After a long, long wait, we’ve finally reached the eve of the competition. Sort of.
Lacrosse fans are going to have the time of their lives this month, because the D1 National Championship is just around the corner. But before it starts, we get to watch the completion of conference tournaments––as well as the seeding announcement that will take place this weekend. All of the anticipation for the start of the championship can feel like torture to fans clamoring for action. But it’s undeniable that whatever goes down in the coming days, the main event is going to be well worth the wait.
Conferences Are Heating Up
The individual conference tournaments are well underway, with multiple finals slated for this weekend. There’s obviously a lot on the line for teams still in their respective competitions. Not only do the resulting winners get the trophy (and the all-important bragging rights), but they also earn a coveted spot in the upcoming D1 Championship.
Amongst the conference title hopefuls, keep an eye out for Maryland in particular. The Terrapins’ national success over the years is well-known to lacrosse fans, and they’re finally bringing that historic dominance to the present; they went 6–0 during the regular season and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. They’re scheduled to play their semifinal against Johns Hopkins mere hours from the time of writing, and advancing past the Blue Jays would be a great boost for both their fate on Sunday and their national hopes. Speaking of Sunday…
Selection Sunday 2: Electric Boogaloo
Top teams have another milestone to await with bated breath before the Championship starts: the bracket selection announcement on Sunday. This event might sound familiar to basketball fans, and for good reason. It’s a near-dead ringer of Selection Sunday, a March Madness staple that brings plenty of drama of its own before the action even begins.
Twenty-nine teams will earn the privilege of competing in the tournament, including conference champions who qualify automatically. The selection committee seeds the top eight qualifiers and grants Nos. 1, 2, and 3 byes to the Championship’s second round. So unlike most collegiate sports leagues, being unseeded doesn’t necessarily mean that the team is at all lacking in quality. But landing a spot in the top three can come with a lot more rest and a lot less travel time.
Now for the big question: who’s most likely to get seeded? Of course, no one will truly know the answer until Sunday. But North Carolina, Boston College, Maryland, Northwestern, and Syracuse all topped the committee’s pre-selection rankings last week, implying that they’ll be present on the list barring any disasters. Squads hoping to burst the bubble will need to have excellent conference tournament campaigns if they want to show why they deserve a spot alongside––or over––those five teams.
ICYMI: @MarylandWLax and @NULax move up in the top-5 in this week's @ILWomen/@IWLCA Division I Poll.— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAALAX) May 3, 2022
6?-2?5?: https://t.co/ZcjicANEgA#NCAAWLAX pic.twitter.com/Ue8O5LH2qa
The More, The Merrier
Off the field, the NCAA has made huge strides in scaling up promotion of the Championship. Back in April, it was revealed that Westwood One––one of the biggest and farthest-reaching radio stations in the country––would broadcast both the semifinals and title game on a national level. And the news didn’t stop there: just days ago, ESPN revealed that the network would showcase the final, and feature every other match on one of its streaming services.
“We are incredibly excited and thankful for ESPN’s commitment to bring women’s lacrosse to an expanded audience,” said Michael Scerbo––the D1 Women’s Lacrosse chair––to the network’s press room. “With all of the tournament games being televised, including the national title game on ESPN, we know women’s lacrosse fans will be thrilled to be able to catch all of the action as we go from 29 teams to one national champion.”
Scerbo is 100% correct—this move could really help women’s lacrosse pull in new fans. Women’s lacrosse is shaping up to be bigger than ever this year, and the National Championship is a great time for new fans to get on board. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re a die-hard fan or a total lacrosse newbie—the more the merrier.
Learn how to watch the upcoming NCAA D1 Women’s Lacrosse conference semifinals and Championship games here.