It’s time to go dancing.
The 48-team NCAA Tournament bracket was released Monday afternoon and, as expected, Big East powerhouses dominate the top spots.
A top-four seed means guaranteed home matches all the way to the College Cup (as long as you keep winning), and three of those all-important four seeds are Big East foes.
Led by the senior duo of 20-goalscorer Ryan Finley (above) and midfield maestro Dillon Powers, Notre Dame locked up the No. 1 overall seed with its Big East Tournament victory. With just one loss this season, ACC champion Maryland was handed the No. 2 seed while Georgetown and Connecticut round out the coveted top four.
The biggest controversy surrounding the brackets is the snubbing of Caleb Porter’s Akron. Despite boasting a 14-game winning streak in which they’ve allowed just one goal as well as a No. 2 overall RPI ranking, the Zips were handed the No. 5 seed – meaning they would have to travel to face UConn in a potential quarterfinal.
Rounding out the top eight seeds are perennial powerhouse UCLA, a team making its second-ever tournament appearance in Marquette and surprise package Saint Louis.
Looking by conference, the Big East led the way with eight teams included in the field while the ACC was second with five. Conference USA, the Big 10 and Atlantic 10 are all major players as well, contributing four teams each.
The NCAA Tournament begins Thursday evening as 32 teams will face off with the winners taking on the top 16-seeded teams on Sunday. They’re all playing for a spot in the College Cup taking place the weekend after MLS Cup, Dec. 7 and 9 in Hoover, Ala.