As a men’s lacrosse analyst for ESPN, Quint Kessenich was one of the first people to get his eyes and hands on the 17-team field for the NCAA Division I tournament on Sunday night. And he will be busy this weekend, helping the network cover Saturday’s first-round game between Virginia and No. 6 seed Loyola Maryland at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday’s first-round game between Georgetown and No. 5 seed Johns Hopkins at 5 p.m. The former Blue Jays goalkeeper, who can be followed on Twitter via @QKessenich, did not mince words about his problems with the bracket, offered his grade for the selection committee, and broke down which first-round game is the most intriguing.
What was your biggest takeaway regarding the bracket?
My biggest question marks were, who are they going to slate at [Nos.] 1, 2 and 3, and who was going to get the [No.] 8 seed, which is the last home game, and who was going to be the last team in the field. Maryland was 1, Albany 2, and Yale 3. My only issues there were Yale beat Albany, and Albany beat Maryland. So they ignored the head-to-heads. Seed No. 8 went to Syracuse over Cornell, and they ignored a lot of things, including a head-to-head where Cornell defeated Syracuse. And then the last selection of Villanova was beyond baffling because they don’t compare as a lacrosse team to either Rutgers or Ohio State.
What would you have changed?
They’re robotic, and they are relying 100 percent on computers and analytics and not using their eyes or common sense. I would change the composition of the selection committee, first of all. We need more people that know what they’re looking at. And then I’d also change the criteria. This should be like college football. It should be the best eight at-large teams in the country right now.
And you feel the tournament does not include the best eight at-large teams?
No. This criteria is stiff and allows them to pick and choose. It needs reform.
What grade would you give the selection committee?
Which first-round game intrigues you the most?
Loyola-Virginia and Cornell-Syracuse are the two best games in the round of 16. They’re both rematches. They’re both teams that have a rivalry going back almost a decade or so. Loyola has lost back-to-back games to Virginia to open a season. Virginia likes to run, they like to get up and down the field, and it’s going to be a fun game to watch. And then Syracuse on Sunday night in the [Carrier] Dome against a central New York rival in Cornell, those two programs have been playing each other forever, and that will be terrific for the fans up there. That should get a huge crowd.
Which seeded team has the toughest path to the Final Four in Foxborough, Mass.?
I don’t typically look at it that way because when you have a team like Syracuse that has lost six games, even the No. 1 seed has lost three games, Yale has lost three games, everybody is so dirtied up that no one can afford to look ahead. They don’t know how this thing is going to break. So while a bracket may look strong or weak right now, these teams better just treat this as they’ve got one more game. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I’m not looking ahead. I have two games to cover this week, and that’s all I’m looking at.
Who would be your finalists for the Tewaaraton Award?
[Sophomore attackman] Jeff Teat at Cornell, [junior attackman] Pat Spencer at Loyola, [senior attackman] Justin Guterding of Duke, [senior faceoff specialist] Trevor Baptiste of Denver, [senior midfielder] Connor Kelly of Maryland and [senior attackman] Ben Reeves of Yale.