(11-10-2011 10:37 AM)etsuBucsFan1988 Wrote: How is the NCAA soccer champion determined? Is it like basketball where there is a tournament and you have automatic and at-large teams in it???
Yep, every sport except FBS football uses a tournament to determine its national champion, and they're all set up essentially the same way, although several conferences (notably the SEC, Big XII, and Sun Belt) don't sponsor men's soccer. Programs in those conferences play elsewhere as affiliate members. South Carolina and Kentucky, for example, play in C-USA.
While I'm at it, I'll turn this into a primer for the sport...
Men's soccer is actually the fourth most common team sport for male athletes in Division I:
Basketball - 344
Baseball - 300
Football - 226
Soccer - 203
Lacrosse - 61
Ice Hockey - 58 (57 after this year; Alabama-Huntsville is dropping to club status)
Volleyball - 23 (plays in a unified championship with D-II and D-III, about 65 schools in total)
Attendance isn't great for most schools, but it's getting better. UC Santa Barbara hosted the College Cup last year in addition to setting the NCAA attendance record by drawing 5,873 fans on the average, including 15,896 for UCLA and 11,242 for Duke. Louisville drew 7,800+ for its game against UCLA earlier this year; College of Charleston broke its attendance record with 2,200 for their tilt with South Carolina; and Bowling Green tripled its attendance record when it hosted Michigan earlier this year with 2,100 fans. 30 teams drew four-digit averages in 2010 and more will likely hit that mark this year.
The most dominant conferences are on the coasts. The ACC, Big East, and Big West, with the C-USA throwing a few good teams out there every year, as well. The CAA also tends to be good enough to make a little noise, as do the SoCon, Ivy League, Big Ten, and MAC (the latter producing last year's champions, Akron). The A-10 and MAAC are usually lousy (although UNC-Charlotte has been great this year), the Big South is atrocious outside of an excellent program at Coastal, and the Horizon, Summit, and Patriot Leagues are all pretty poor.
The A-Sun as a soccer conference is a bit of a mixed bag. There are three teams in the top 100 this year: FGCU (50), us (75), and Stetson (85), and Jacksonville was there last year (116 this year). The rest of the conference is pretty brutal, though, with three teams in the bottom 25 and quite possibly the worst team in the country in North Florida (201), who went 1-15 and scored 6 goals all year. And just to show you how lucky we are to be in the conference tournament, two of those goals came against us.
If anyone has specific questions, I'd be glad to try and answer them.