The bracket for the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer National Championship has been released, which includes 48 teams that will duke it out over the next four weeks, culminating in what should be a fantastic weekend in Cary, North Carolina on December 14th.
24 conference winners earned a berth in the National Championship, with the remaining teams were selected at-large. 16 teams are seeded and receive byes to the second round, while the other 32 teams play first round fixtures to advance to play a seeded team.
Let’s take a look at the top 8 seeds, as well as a few unseeded teams that have a storied past in this event.
Defending champions Notre Dame (11-4-4) earned the first seed after competing in the toughest conference, the ACC. Out of their 19 games in the regular season, they squared off against 11 schools that made the bracket, seven of which are seeded this year. Notre Dame take on the winner of Akron (2009 champions) and Ohio State in the second round.
UCLA (11-4-4), the second-most experienced team in the National Championship, has been seeded number two. This comes despite finishing behind #6 Stanford in the PAC-12 standings. After a slow start to the season UCLA got results against fellow contenders Stanford and #14 Washington, compiling an impressive 7-2-1 record away from home. UCLA will be cautious in their second-round matchup as the face the winner of San Diego and Cal St. Fullerton. San Diego faced UCLA earlier this year, winning 1-0 in a tense game.
The Big Ten contributes the 3, 4, and 5 seeds in the shape of Michigan State, Maryland, and Indiana.
Michigan State (11-4-5) finished fifth in the Big Ten standings, but earned the third seed in the bracket due to a strong finish, which included defeating #5 Indiana, Penn State and drawing Northwestern and #1 Notre Dame. The Spartans have won the National Championship twice, with both titles coming in ‘67-‘68. Oakland and Kentucky play each other in the first round to see who will face the Spartans this weekend.
Rounding out the top four is Maryland (13-5-3), who overcame Ohio State, #3 Michigan State and #5 Indiana to win the Big Ten Championship and will look to add to their three National Championship titles, with their last coming in 2008. The winner of Wake Forest and UMBC play Maryland on Sunday.
Indiana (12-4-5), who fell to Maryland in the Big Ten final, is the fifth seed after a tough schedule. The Hoosiers compiled a 7-4-3 record in the 11 games against teams in this years bracket. Indiana had a great year up until the Big Ten final and will play either Monmouth or Xavier in the second round.
PAC-12 champions Stanford enter the National Championship as the number six seed. Stanford, who started conference play with a 3-1-2, finished 4-0 to beat UCLA to the PAC-12 title by one point. The Cardinal awaits the winner of the first-round match between UC Irvine and UNLV.
Two-time National Champion Clemson (11-6-3) are the seventh seed after defeating Notre Dame, #13 Louisville, Wake Forest, and North Carolina on their way to becoming the ACC Champions. Clemson won the Division I title in 1984 and 1987 and will play either FGCU or Coastal Carolina in the second round.
The last seed we will look at is Georgetown, who finished 12-4-4 this season. The Hoyas lead a list of four teams from the Big East to make the National Championship, the others being #11 Providence, #12 Creighton, and Xavier. Old Dominion and St. Francis Brooklyn play each other in the first round, with the winner advancing to pay Georgetown.
Some notable programs are amongst the unseeded teams, including Saint Louis and North Carolina. Saint Louis has won the most National Championships with ten. However, all ten came between 1959 and 1973.
North Carolina, who has won Division I’s ultimate prize on two occasions, were granted an at-large berth and will look to become the first unseeded team to win the Championship since UC Santa Barbara accomplished the feat in 2006.
The top 16 seeds teams receive first round byes, before the second round kicks off on November 23. The third round takes place a week later, before the quarterfinals take place on December 5-6. The College Cup (semifinals and final) is contested on December 12 and 14 in Cary, North Carolina.
View the rest of the qualifying teams and find more information on the Championship by visiting the NCAA Men’s Soccer Website: Click Here