Navy coach Cindy Timchal believes the combination of the Midshipmen’s stellar season and the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium setting should be enough to earn Navy one of eight seeds in the NCAA Division I women's tournament when the bracket is announced Sunday night. The top eight seeds will play at home on the tournament's first weekend, May 10 and 12.
The No. 12 Midshipmen, who won their fourth straight Patriot League tournament championship last Sunday, certainly have the record (16-1) and the RPI (seventh in Division I) to make the selection committee take a look a home bid. They’ve beaten three of the other automatic qualifiers so far -- Jacksonville, Monmouth and High Point. They've lost only to No. 4 and defending national champion Northwestern, 15-12, after a valiant stab at the upset.
With a newly expanded 26-team bracket this year, there are no play-in games. Timchal is convinced the Mids can compete with anyone and, with the seventh-best RPI, should get at least the eighth seed.
She hopes her team isn’t sent somewhere to keep travel costs down, which is also a committee concern as it seeds the top eight teams and then fills in the rest of the bracket.
“If anything, we want the committee to make a decision based on the ranking for as true a tournament as possible,” said Timchal, who will be coaching in the NCAA tournament for the 25thtime in a 31-year career that incudes stints at Northwestern and at Maryland, where she led the Terps to eight national titles.
“I feel like this is our next step with the tournament expansion. We’ve always been sent to an ACC school after we played our way into the NCAA tournament the last three years. We’ve always been sent there because of cost, so now it would be nice to be acknowledged for what we’ve done this season, for where we area now.”
While Navy ranks high in RPI and win-loss percentage, it rates a little low in two other criteria the selection committee considers – “significant wins and losses” and “evaluation of the 10 highest-rated teams on an institution’s schedule (defined by strenth of schedule and winning percentage).” The Midshipmen have a great record, but they’re 58th nationally in strength of schedule and nine of their opponents finished with sub-.500 seasons.
“You can say strength of schedule, but you still have to win those games,” Timchal said. “We’ve done what we needed to do. We’ve positioned ourselves where we can possibly host, we put in a great bid and I don’t know if there’s a site better than ours to host women’s lacrosse. I think when the committee looks at everything, we truly have one of the best bids for a site, probably one of the best venues to play women’s lacrosse. our attendance is solid and the committee does consider those things.”
The first rounds of the Division I tournament will be held at the top eight seeds' campus sites. The top six seeds will have byes in next Friday’s first-round games. Each will host a winner from the first round on Sunday, May 12. The seventh and eighth seeds will begin play Friday night with games at their campuses.