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Part one of Q&A with ESPN and Big Ten Network men's lacrosse analyst Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon traded his ESPN hat for his Big Ten Network one last week as the analyst for the Big Ten tournament semifinals and final at Byrd Stadium in College Park and then participated in a live online chat for Inside Lacrosse as the 18-team field for the NCAA tournament was unveiled Sunday night. The former Johns Hopkins midfielder will be part of ESPN's broadcast crew for Sunday's first-round game between No. 3 seed North Carolina (12-3) and Colgate (10-5). Here is part one of a conversation with Dixon, who can be followed on Twitter at @DixonLacrosse and shared his perspective on the tournament's bracket.

Did you agree with Notre Dame (10-2) taking the No. 1 seed over Syracuse (12-2)?

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You could make arguments for and against it. Syracuse with their body of work had certainly done enough to earn the No. 1 seed, but at the end of the day, when you look at the numbers, Notre Dame is 1 in RPI and Syracuse is 2. Syracuse has the No. 1 strength of schedule, and Notre Dame is No. 2. The numbers are virtually identical. But Notre Dame beat Syracuse head-to-head [13-12 in double overtime on March 28]. I actually like the committee taking head-to-head into consideration because what's the point in having a result if it's not going to count for something? When I vote in the Inside Lacrosse poll, I vote based on the results of that weekend. If a team is hot or won a big game, they're probably going to move up in my poll. But that's not what the NCAA selection committee is all about. They take into consideration the entire body of work from the first week in February to the first week in May. That's the data they have, and that's what they take into consideration. So at the end of the day, did Syracuse do enough to be the No. 1 seed? Absolutely, and if they had been the No. 1 seed, I don't think you would have heard much argument. But I have no problem whatsoever with Notre Dame grabbing the No. 1 seed.

Were there any surprises in the draw regarding teams selected?

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I think Brown getting in over Princeton raised a lot of eyebrows. But again, when you look at Brown, they finished with an RPI of 11, and Princeton had an RPI of 17. When you take into consideration the out-of-conference wins, Brown really didn't have any at the end of the day to speak of. Princeton had the win over Hopkins, which helped their RPI. But Princeton's RPI was hit heavily by losses to Stony Brook and Lehigh. And again, Brown beat Princeton head-to-head [10-8 on March 29]. If Princeton had gotten into the tournament – and I don't think a lot of people would have lost sleep over that – if you're Brown, you would say, "Wait a second, the one time we played these guys, we won. We beat them, and our numbers are better than them in terms of RPI. So why would Princeton be selected ahead of us?" I understand the arguments for both.

Was the inclusion of Ohio State (11-6) stunning?

I had Ohio State in the tournament after they beat Maryland on Thursday night [9-6 in the Big Ten Conference tournament semifinal]. The reason being that the RPI is what it is, but they didn't have to suffer for any of those head-to-head losses. Ohio State to me was helped mightily by Towson winning the CAA [Colonial Athletic Association tournament], beating Maryland in the semifinals, and that [13-11] win over Denver back in mid-March. I kept saying all season long, that's going to be a huge chip in their back pocket, and it was. So I was not surprised by Ohio State. I thought Ohio State would have sealed it had they beaten Maryland at the Showdown in the Shoe on April 18. But they didn't, and then they had the [17-10] loss to Rutgers [on April 25]. And their RPI was hurt by losses to Detroit and the Scarlet Knights. But at the end of the day, the quality wins over Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Denver helped them.

Between Princeton (9-6) and Georgetown (10-6), which team has the bigger gripe on Monday?

Princeton, because of the [16-15 overtime] win over Johns Hopkins [on Feb. 28]. Georgetown played a great schedule, and I love the job [head coach] Kevin Warne is doing. But they didn't beat Notre Dame, they didn't beat Virginia, they didn't beat Duke. So they played a great schedule, but they didn't beat anyone out of conference. And they had two opportunities against Denver and were handled both times.

Does Albany (15-2) have an argument for getting the No. 8 seed over Cornell (10-5)?

We as fans look at it as, "What have you done for me lately?" The committee looks at the entire body of work, and oh by the way, Cornell beat Albany handedly [16-9] back on February 28 in Dallas. The most interesting thing to come out of that game other than the 95-hour bus ride home for Albany from Dallas was the fact that Cornell won that game. So there's the head-to-head. And when you look at the numbers, Cornell finished with an RPI of 8, and the strength of schedule for Albany really hurt them. But that's not something they can control. The Ivy League is just a more balanced league than the America East is. So at the end of the day, I don't really have a problem with Cornell getting a home game over Albany because when you look at the criteria and the head-to-head win that Cornell had over Albany, I have to imagine that was the deciding factor.


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