2018 NCAA Tournament Brackets - The Road To The College Cup (Final Four)

It is survive and advance time once again.  The Big Dance is about to get underway.  The 48-team field has been announced and it is now all about the journey along the road with the destination being the College Cup at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, Californina. 

Wake Forest, Indiana, Kentucky and Lousiville were awarded the coveted top four seeds which means they could play their way to Santa Barbara without ever leaving home.

All sixteen first-round contests will take place on Thursday, November 15.  All sixteen second round games are slated for Sunday, November 18.  The third round (Round of Sixteen) will take place on Saturday, November 24 or Sunday, November 25 and the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) will be played on Friday, November 30 or Saturday, December 1 at the site of the highest seed. 

The College Cup (Final Four) will take place on Friday, December 7 and Sunday, December 9 at Meridith Field at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, California.

#1 Wake Forest Bracket 


First Round:  Colgate (12-4-5) at New Hampshire (12-3-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #1 Wake Forest  (17-2-0)  

First Round:  Rider (10-9-1) at Akron (10-6-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #16 Syracuse (7-6-4)

First Round:  Grand Canyon (12-8-0) at UC Irvine (12-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #9 Stanford (11-3-4)

First Round:  SMU (10-4-3) at Oregon State (10-5-3)

Second Round:  Winner at #8 St. Mary's (17-0-1)

#4  Louisville Bracket 


First Round:  James Madison (12-4-3) at High Point (13-2-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #5 North Carolina (14-3-1)

First Round:  Georgia State (11-6-2) at Charlotte (14-4-1)

Second Round:  Winner at #12 Virginia Tech (10-6-3)

First Round:  LIU Brooklyn (12-5-1) at West Virginia (13-6-0) 

Second Round:  Winner at #13 Georgetown (12-4-3)

First Round:  UIC (12-5-2) at Michigan State (10-4-4) 

Second Round:  Winner at #4 Louisville (11-4-3)

#3 Kentucky Bracket 


First Round:  UCLA (10-8-0) at Portland (11-3-3) 

Second Round:  Winner at #3 Kentucky (17-1-1)

First Round:  Lipscomb (9-9-0) at Washington (12-7-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #14 UCF (13-2-3)

First Round:  Campbell (9-8-3) at North Carolina State (9-6-3)

Second Round:  Winer at #11 Maryland (8-6-4)

First Round:  UC Riverside (7-9-3) at Pacific (11-4-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #6 Duke (10-6-2)

#2 Indiana Bracket 


First Round:  Princeton (10-5-2) at Michigan (12-5-2) 

Second Round:  Winner at #7 Notre Dame (10-6-2)

First Round:  Furman (13-6-1) at UNCW (12-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #10 Virginia (9-3-3)

First Round: Central Arkansas (8-5-4) at Air Force (15-4-0)

Second Round:  Winner at #15 Denver (15-3-2)

First Round:  Rhode Island (15-4-0) at Connecticut (11-5-2)

Second Round:  Winner at #2 Indiana (17-2-1)

Plenty of High Profile and Big Impact Contests Slated For The Weekend

Something has to give contests are slated for what is one of the most crucial weekends in college soccer.  Automatic berths via conference championships are at stake across the country and teams seek to enhance their seeding. 

Maryland vs. Indiana – Friday - Indiana may be the best team in the country but this one has the potential for an upset written all over it.  The Hoosiers topped Maryland 2-1 when Indiana hosted the Terps back on October 12 with Andrew Gutman scoring the game-winning goal with only eighteen ticks remaining in regulation.  Indiana comes into the contest off a 2-1 win in overtime against Northwestern.  The Hoosiers had a huge twenty-seven to two advantage in shots but it still almost came down to penalty kicks.  Maryland comes into the match off a 1-0 win over Michigan State. 

This is one of the marquee matches of the most important weekends of the college soccer season.  Both teams are a lock for an at-large berth but a win, particularly for Maryland, would provide momentum and confidence going forward.

Grand Canyon vs. Air Force – Friday – Grand Canyon topped Utah Valley 1-0 on Wednesday to earn a rematch with Air Force in the Western Athletic Conference semifinals.  Air Force, which won the regular season WAC title, received a bye into the semifinals.

Grand Canyon defeated  Air Force 1-0 when the two teams squared off on October 28.  The Lopes under the direction of Schellas Hyndman attracted national attention when they began the year with unexpected wins over Wisconsin and Creighton.   Air Force, 15-3-0 overall with a 8-2-0 mark in WAC play, comes into this one fresh off the loss to Grand Canyon since their scheduled season ending match with Utah Valley was cancelled due to field conditions. 

The Falcons should prevail but Grand Canyon has established that they are a formidable opponent and it is foolish for anyone to look past them.  

Saint Mary’s at Portland – Saturday – St. Mary’s has already claimed the West Coast Conference title and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament that goes with it. 

The Gaels need a win in this one to enhance their seeding in the NCAA Tournament.  Portland, who comes into the contest off a 3-2 loss to Pacific, currently has an RPI of thirty-eight.  A Pilot win would give them momentum and enhance their chances for an at-large berth.

Louisville vs. North Carolina – Sunday – Both teams have been ranked all year and both have already nailed down a berth in the NCAA Tournament. This one is about momentum and seeding in the NCAA Tournament.  North Carolina currently has an RPI of three.  Louisville has an RPI ranking of eight.  North Carolina advanced to the championship match by defeating rival Duke.  Louisville advanced by upsetting Wake Forest. 

North Carolina and Louisville didn't face each other in regular season play.  The Tar Heels have been the more consistent team and have a defense that has allowed a total of only seven goals all year.  This one could go either way based on which team is able to get into their rhythm. 

A win for the Tar Heels would ensure a top four seed.  A top four seeding for the Cardinals is unlikely but not out of the question with a resume that included an ACC championship. 

UC Davis at UC Riverside – Saturday – UC Riverside, 7-9-2 overall with a 4-2-1 mark in conference play, is making their first ever appearance in the Big West Conference Tournament Championship match.  The Highlanders began the season with a 0-7-1 record but have won seven of their last ten contests.  UC Davis topped UC Riverside 3-0 when the two teams squared off on October 13 in regular season play.  However, that contest was scoreless for the first sixty-six minutes of play.  UC Davis, 11-4-4 overall with a 3-3-1 mark in conference play, currently has an RPI of thirty-seven and is on the bubble as far as a berth in the NCAA Tournament. 

The Big West’s automatic berth is on the line in this one.  On paper, UC Davis should prevail but if UC Riverside is able to put together a full ninety minutes of play their magical ride could continue.

Oregon State at Washington – Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that the Beavers would have a shot at winning the Pac-12 title going into this contest.  Stanford has already secured at least a share of the Pac-12 title but their 1-0 loss to California at home Thursday night opened the door for Oregon State to share it if they defeat Washington.  If Oregon State does not win then Stanford will claim the Pac-12 title outright.

Oregon State topped Washington 4-2 when the two teams faced each other in Corvallis on September 29.  The Beavers are unbeaten in their last six conference contests but they are facing a Washington team that knows that a win in this one can only help enhance their chances of an at-large berth.  Washington currently has an RPI of twenty-five.  Oregon State currently has an RPI of twenty-seven.  Stanford with an RPI of four and UCLA with a current RPI of twenty-one are the other Pac-12 teams with solid RPI’s.

UMBC at New Hampshire vs. UMBC – Sunday – New Hampshire advanced to the America East Championship contest with a 2-0 one win over UMass Lowell.  UMBC punched their ticket to the title match by upsetting number one seed Stony Brook 1-0.  New Hampshire defeated UMBC 1-0 when they hosted the Retrievers in regular season play on September 22.  The game-winning score in that contest was a Jack Doherty goal in the seventh minute of play.  This one is likely going to be decided by a single goal once again.  Whoever scores first will have a big advantage. 

New Hampshire, which was awarded an at-large berth last year, has advanced to the America East championship match five times but has never won it.  The fact that they are hositing the tournament could give them the edge that they need.  The Wildcats are undefeated at home this year with a perfect 9-0-0 record.  New Hampshire has an RPI of twenty-six.  UMBC with a current RPI of ninety-eight knows that they must win the conference tournament to go dancing which makes them a dangerous team. 

UIC at Wright State – Saturday - This Horizon League Championship match features two very good teams.  Wright State won the regular season title with a 6-1-1 mark in regular season conference play.  Wright State and UIC tied 1-1 when Wright State hosted UIC on October 6.  Wright State has an RPI of twenty-nine.  UIC has an RPI of thirty-four. 

Both Wright State and UIC received a scare in the semifinals.  Wright State squeaked past Milwaukee in a contest that was decided by a penalty kick shootout after it was tied 1-1.  UIC slid past IUPUI in penalty kicks after the contest was tied 1-1. 

This game could prove to be a nail biter.  The winner nails down an automatic berth and will not have to hope for an at-large berth which might not be forthcoming.

SMU at UCF - Saturday -  It does not always happen but in this American Athletic Conference Tournament title match the number one seed and the number two seed advanced to the final.  However, it didn't come easy for either number one seed UCF or number two seed SMU.  UCF came from two goals down to defeat Connecticut 3-2 in overtime.  SMU came from one goal down to secure a 2-1 win over Memphis in overtime.

UCF topped SMU 2-0 when they tangled in regular season play in Orlando.  However SMU has been looking good down the home stretch of the season and is undefeated in their last seven contests.  Credit the return of a healthy Phillip Ponder to the lineup as one of the reasons for the SMU resurgence.  Ponder has contributed four goals in the past three contests to play a key role in the success that the Mustangs have enjoyed. 

This one will hinge in large part on whether or not SMU can contain a high octane UCF attack led by Cal Jennings who is responsible for twenty of the forty-three goals that the Knights have scored to date.

UCF has an RPI of thirteen which makes them a lock for an at-large berth should they not secure the automatic berth. SMU with an RPI of fifty-four will have to win tthe conference tournament to keep their season alive. 

It's Conference Tournament Time - A Look At What's Happening Coast To Coast

Fasten your seatbelts. It is conference tournament time which means the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner.  Automatic berths are at stake as well as seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

America East - Stony Brook, New Hampshire, UMass Lowell, Vermont, UMBC and Albany qualified for one of the six spots.

The Skinny - Stony Brook secured the America East regular season title for the first time in thirteen seasons.  Stony Brook and number two seed New Hampshire receive a bye to the semifinals which gives them an advantage but this one is up for grabs with any of the participants capable of winning it.

American Athletic Conference - UCF, SMU, UConn, USF, Memphis and Temple qualified. 

The Skinny - The seeding in the conference tournament will not be decided until contests are completed this weekend.  SMU and UCF are currently tied for the number one spot with 4-1-1 records in conference play.  The two top seeds receive a first round bye and the top overall seed hosts the tournament.  UCF, SMU and UConn are the tournament frontrunners. 

Atlantic 10 - VCU, Davidson, George Mason, Rhode Island, Fordham, Saint Louis, Dayton and Massachusetts qualified.

The Skinny - VCU, 10-5-1 overall with a 6-1-1 mark in conference play, won the regular season title.  The Rams lost to Dayton 1-0 and tied Saint Louis 0-0 during regular season conference play.  VCU should get past #8 seed Massachusetts in the first round of play but could have trouble when they face the winner of the Rhode Island vs. Fordham contest.  Davidson is capable of winning in all if they play their best soccer of the year. Saint Louis is a long shot but could have a shot at the title if they can get past George Mason. 

Atlantic Coast Conference - Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Louisville, Pitt, Duke, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina have advanced to the quarterfinals. 

The Skinny - Pitt's 2-0 win over Virginia was the big surprise of the first round.  Wake Forest and North Carolina are the frontrunners but with such a competitive field there is a good chance that one of them may be upset.  Wake Forest and North Carolina didn't face each other in regualr season play so it would make for a great championship match should both advance to the final. Any of the eight teams in the quarterfinals could win it all but Duke and Louisville look to be the most likely to prevail in the event Wake Forest or UNC falters.   

Atlantic Sun - Lipscomb, FGCU, North Florida, Jacksonville, Liberty, and Stetson qualified.

The Skinny - Lipscomb and FGCU shared the ASUN regular season title with 5-1-0 marks in conference play.  Both received a bye to the conference tournament semifinal.  Lipscomb will face the winner of the Liberty vs. Jacksonville contest.  FGCU will face the winner of the Stetson vs. North Florida match.  Lipscomb and FGCU are prohibitive favorites to advance to the tournament final. 

Big East - Creighton, Georgetown, Providence, Marquette, Xavier, St. John's are the participants.

The Skinny - Number one seed Creighton and number two seed Georgetown recevived a bye to the semifinals.  Marquette hosts Xavier and Providence hosts St. John's in first round play.  The ususal suspects, Creighton and Georgetown, have returned to the top of the Big East this year.  Chances are pretty good that they will meet in the championship contest.  Xavier under Andy Fleming has a history of pulling off surprises in conference tournament play so don't count the Muskateers out of it. 

Big South -  High Point University, Radford, Presbyterian, Campbell, Gardner-Webb and Longwood are in the tournament.

The Skinny - High Point won the regular season title with a 7-0-1 mark in conference play.  The Panthers are 13-2-1 overall and are the only team in the conference with an overall winning record.  HPU and Radford have a bye to the semifinals.  On paper High Point should prevail but unexpected things can happen in conference tournaments as they did last year when Presbyterian got hot and won the Big South Tournament.  HIgh Point can't afford to look past anyone. They tied Campbell 1-1 and both Radford and Presbyterian played the Panthers very close when they met in regular season play.   

Big Ten -  Every team in the Big Ten qualifies.  Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Ohio State.  

The Skinny - Number one seeded Indiana, 15-2-0 with a 8-0-0 mark in conference play, is the team to beat but they will be without midfielder Griffin Dorsey and forward Justin Rennicks who are playing with the U.S. National Team for three weeks.  Whether or not that makes a difference remains to be seen.  A very solid Wisconsin team earned the number two seed, Michigan the number three seed, Michigan State the number four seed and Maryland the number five seed.  The winner of the Michigan State and Maryland game could upset the Hoosiers.  Wisconsin and Michigan should face each other in the other bracket with the winner advancing to the tournament championship match. 

Big West -  U.C. Irvine, U.C. Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, CSUN, UC Davis, and Cal State Fullerton qualified for the tournament.

The Skinny - Number one seed UC Irvine and number two seed UC Riverside earned a bye to the semifinals.  UC Davis upset CSUN 3-1 and Cal State Fullerton topped UC Santa Barbara in a match that was decided by a penalty kick shootout.  UC Davis now faces U.C. Irvine and Cal State Fullerton tangles with UC Riverside.  This one is up for grabs with any of the four remaining teams capable of winning it. 

Colonial Athletic Association -  The tournament field consists of James Madison, UNCW, Hofstra, Delaware, William and Mary, and Northeastern.

The Skinny:  James Madison, 11-4-2 overall with a 6-2-0 mark in conference play,  and UNCW, 12-4-2 overall with a 5-1-2 mark in conference play, earned a bye to the semifinals.  The winner of the William and Mary and Delaware contest will face UNCW.  The winner of the Northeastern at Hofstra contest will face UNCW.   James Madison was upset by Elon 1-0 in their final regular season contest and lost to UNCW 2-0 at the end of September in regular season play.  UNCW closed out regualr season play with a 1-0 loss to Northeastern.  This one is up for grabs.  

Conference USA -  The  seeding will be determined this weekend.  Kentucky and Old Dominion are both 6-1-0 in conference play.  They face each other Friday with the regular season title on the line. The top seven teams in regular season play qualify for a spot in the conference tournamet.  Kentucky, ODU, Charlotte, FIU, Marshall, New Mexico, and UAB look to be in the field

The Skinny - Kentucky is having a banner season but Old Dominion, Charlotte and FIU are very capable of getting hot and winning the CUSA tournament.  

Horizon League -  The six teams in the tournament and the seeding will not be finalized until the games this weekend have been completed. 

The Skinny - Wright State, UIC and Green Bay are all still in the running for the top spot.  Those three teams are the frontrunners for the tournament title.  Wright State comes into their final game with Milwaukee off a 1-0 loss to Green Bay.  UIC comes into their final contest with Northern Kentucky off a two game losing streak.  Green Bay comes into their final contest with Oakland off an impressive three game win streak that included victories over non-conference foe Central Arkansas, UIC and Wright State. 

Ivy League - There is no conference tournament.  The regular season winner is awarded the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. 

The Skinny - Princeton, 9-4-2 overall with a 4-0-1 mark in conference play, is currently at the top of the Ivy League standings and is in the drivers seat. They have games remaining with Penn at home this Saturday and Yale on the road the following Saturday.  Columbia is currently in second place with a contest on the road against Harvard this Saturday and Cornell at home the follwing Saturday.  Princeton topped Columbia 2-1 when the two faced each other.  

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference -  Fairfield, Quinnipiac, Marist, Iona, Rider and Saint Peter's qualified for the tournament.

The Skinny - Fairfield and Quinnipiac received a bye to the semifinals.  The winner of the Iona and Rider contest will square off with Fairfield.  The winner of the Marist and Saint Peter's match will tangle with Quinnipiac.  Fairfield won the regular season title with a 11-4-2 overall record and a 8-0-2 mark in conferenc play.  Fairfield is a young and motivated team.  The Stags tied Quinnipiac 0-0 and Marist 1-1 during regular season play.  Fairfield, Quinnipiac, and Marist are all capable of winning the tournament.  It all comes down to who finishes their scoring opportunities and does not make mistakes on the defensive side of the ball.

Mid-American Conference - This year every team in the MAC qualifies for the tournament.  West Virginia, Western Michigan, Bowling Green, SIUE, Akron and Northern Illinois are the participants.  The seeding will not be determined until the games on Saturday have been completed.

The Skinny - The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals.  West Virginia with a 4-0-0 mark in conference play has claimed the top seed and a bye.  The Mountaineers will host the semifinals and the championship contest.  Western Michigan and Bowling Green are currently tied for second with 1-1-2 records in conference play.  On Saturday Western Michigan travels to face Akron, Bowling Green hosts SIUE and West Virginia hits the road to tangle with NIU.  If Western Michigan tops Akron and Bowling Green losses then Western Michigan will finish in the second spot.  If Bowling Green tops SIUE and Western Michigan losses then Bowling Green secures the second spot.  Shoud Akron top Western Michigan and Bowling green lose or tie with SIUE then Akron would earn the number two spot and the bye that goes with it.  West Virignia is having a stellar season and playing at home will give them an edge.  Nonetheless there is a ton of parity in the MAC this year.  The bottom line is that any of the six participants are capabale of winning the tournament. 

Missouri Valley Conference -  The top six teams during regular season play qualify for the tournament.  The field and the seeding will not be determined until Saturday's matches are completed. 

The Skinny - Loyola Chicago, Missouri State, Central Arkansas and Valparaiso have secured a spot in the six team field.  Both Loyola Chicago and Central Arkansas have a shot at the top seed.  Central Arkansas topped Loyola Chicago 1-0.  Missouri State and Central Arkansas face each other on Saturday.  If Central Arkansas wins then they will be the conference champions.  The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals of the tournamet. If Missouri State tops Central Arkansas they will finish in the number two spot, Loyola Chicago will secure the regular season title, and Central Arkansas will drop to the number three spot.  Loyola Chicago will finish either first or second so they have already secured a first round bye. Loyola Chicago, Missouri State and Central Arkansas are the clear frontrunners. 

Northeast Conference - The top four teams in regular season play earn a spot in the tournament field. The field will not be determined until the contests this weekend have been completed.  LIU Brooklyn and Saint Francis have nailed down two of the tournament berths.  

The Skinny - LIU Brooklyn lost to Saint Francis 1-0 when the two faced each other on October 21.  Chances are good that they will meet again in the tournament championship match. Fairleigh Dickinson and Bryant are currently tied for third place.  They control their destiny.  If they win their final regular season contest they will secure a spot in the tournament.      

Pac-12 - The Pac-12 does not have a tournament.  The regular season winner earns the conference's automatic berth.

The Skinny -   Oregon State, 10-4-3 overall with a 6-2-1 mark in conference play, currently sits atop the standings with nineteen points.   Stanford is currently in second place with sixteen points. However Oregon State has played two more games than Stanford.  Oregon State closes out regular season play when they travel to face Washington on Friday, November 9.  Stanford, 9-2-4 overall with a 5-1-1 mark in conference play, has contests remaining with San Diego State and UCLA on the road and California at home.  

Patriot League -  Six teams qualify for the Patriot League tournament.  Loyola Maryland, Lehigh, Colgate, and Boston University have punched their tickets.  The seeding and the remaining field will be determined this weekend.

The Skinny - Loyola Maryland won the regular season title and looks to be the team to beat in the tournament.  The Patriot League tournament is always up for grabs depending on who gets hot.  Keep an eye of Colgate and Lehigh.  Both are capable of winning it should Loyola Maryland not bring their A game.

Southern Conference -  Mercer, ETSU, Furman, Wofford, UNCG, Belmont and VMI constitute the tournament field. 

The Skinny - Belmont topped VMI in the playin game.  Wofford faces UNCG with the winner taking on number one seed Mercer.  Furman and Belmont square off with the winner advancing to face number two seed ETSU.  Mercer's eight game win streak was halted in their final regualr season contest with a 1-0 loss to ETSU.  Mercer and ETSU should meet again in the championship. However, it would be a mistake for either of them to look past Furman.  The Paladins topped ETSU on the road 2-0 and lost  to Mercer 2-1 in overtime during regular season lplay.    

Summit League -  Four teams qualify for the Summit League Tourney.  The seeding and the teams will not be finalized until the games are completed this weekend.

The Skinny - Denver, 12-3-2 oveall with a 3-0-1 mark in conference play, will host the tournament.  Denver hosts Oral Roberts on Saturday.  If the Pioneers win that contest they will win the Summit League regular season title for the sixth-straight season.  If Denver loses and Omaha tops Eastern Illinois then Omaha would secure the regular season title. Denver has had several close contests in league play but if they play to their potential they should win the tourney.  

Sun Belt Conference -  Six teams earn a berth in the conference tournament.  The seeding and the field will not be determined until the contests this weekend have been completed.

The Skinny - Georgia State and Georgia Southern are in contention for the top spot.  Georgia Southern faces Coastal Carolina on the road on Friday.  If Georgia Southern tops the Chanticleers they will secure the Sun Belt regular season title.  Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina are capable of upsetting things. 

West Coast Conference - The regular season winner earns the conference's automatic berth.  There is no conference tournament. 

The Skinny - Saint Mary's, 15-0-1 overall with a 4-0-1 mark in conference play, and Portland, 11-1-3 overall with a 3-1-1 mark in confernce play, are at the top of the standings.  Saint Mary's has contests remaining with Gonzaga at home and Portland on the road.  Portland faces Pacific on the road on Friday before closing out play against Saint Mary's. The winner of the conference's automatic berth may not be determined until the final day of regualr season play.  

Western Athletic Conference - Seven teams earn a berth in the conference tournament.  Air Force, UNLV, Seattle, Utah Valley, Grand Canyon, San Jose State and UT Rio Grande Valley are the participants.

The Skinny - A veteran Air Force team, 15-3-0 overall with a 8-2-0 mark in conference play, claimed the regular season title and the number one seed. Regular season losses to CSU Bakersfield and to Grand Canyon establish that Air Force is vulnerable.  This tournament is wide open.

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