The Fighting Irish are ranked No. 6 in the coaches poll, which was last tabulated before this past weekend's conference tournaments, and have an RPI of 11. NU, going for its seventh national championship in eight years, was ranked No. 1 in the most recent poll and has the top RPI in Division 1.
We'll have a full preview of the game later this week, but on first glance, the bracket looks pretty favorable for Northwestern to reach the Final Four in Stony Brook, N.Y. NU handily beat Notre Dame, 17-7, in their only meeting this year, on April 25. Winner of the first-round match will face the winner of No. 7 seed Duke and Virginia, both of whom the Wildcats also beat during the regular season.
As for the rest of the field, Florida captured the No. 1 seed, and the Gators will face Albany in the first round. Maryland is the No. 3 seed, playing Massachusetts. Syracuse, which was ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll but was upset in the Big East championship on Sunday, is the No. 4 seed and plays Dartmouth. North Carolina is the No. 5 seed, playing Navy, and Towson is the No. 8 seed, playing Penn State.
Florida, NU and Penn State make three ALC teams to make the 16-team field. That places the conference second behind the always powerful ACC, which received four bids. The Big East also had three teams make the tournament, and the Ivy League two.
Having its bubble burst was the ALC's Ohio State, which was ranked No. 14 in the coach's poll and came close to knocking off Florida in the conference tournament semifinals, losing 5-4. Fellow ALC member Johns Hopkins, which had an RPI of 15, also did not make the tournament, despite upsetting Penn State in the first round of the ALC tournament. Cornell was the highest ranked team in the coach's poll (No. 10) that didn't make the tournament.