NCAA Tournament Lacrosse: History, Rules & Facts You Should Know

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It's one of the most exciting times of year for college sports fans, NCAA tournament time!

From basketball to lacrosse and all other collegiate sports in between, it's a time when excitement and anticipation are at an all-time high.

March Madness is traditionally reserved for courtside seats while watching some of the best talents in college basketball compete—but this year, there's even more reason to be excited if you're a lacrosse fan.

To aid in your journey, we have created a comprehensive guide for all new to watching lacrosse! So let's dive into the past and reminisce about NCAA history, including its rules, teams, sponsorship, and more!

All this knowledge will help ensure you get up to speed quickly as an avid fan of NCAA tournament lacrosse.


Take Away Key Points:

  • The NCAA Division I men's lacrosse championship is the annual tournament that crowns the top men's field lacrosse team in the NCAA Division I. This tournament has been determining the national champion since 1971.
  • The NCAA introduced a Division I men's lacrosse tournament in 1971.
  • From 1974 to 1979, the NCAA held combined Division II and III tournaments.

The history of the NCAA tournament

The NCAA Men's Division I lacrosse tournament is a prestigious event that has been around since 1971. It began as an eight-team tournament and has since grown to 20 teams. Selection Sunday marks the beginning of the tournament when it is announced which teams will compete for the national title.

The first tournament saw Hobart defeat Cornell to win the championship, a tradition that has continued since. The field has expanded over time and now consists of 16 conference champions and four at-large winners.

In 2020, Johns Hopkins won their 10th national championship after defeating Duke in the finals.

This was an epic game for college lacrosse and saw teams like Syracuse and Villanova reach deep into their respective tournaments.

The NCAA Men's Division I Lacrosse Tournament continues to be one of the most exciting sporting events in the nation, with teams from across the country coming together to vie for victory each spring.

As of 2021, fifty NCAA tournaments have been held. A total of eleven teams - Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton, North Carolina, Virginia, Cornell, Duke, Maryland, Loyola University (Maryland), Denver, and Yale - have won the national championship across that span. Syracuse leads with ten titles (plus one vacated by the NCAA.

How is the tournament played?

ncaa tournament lacrosse scores

On Selection Sunday, it is announced which teams will participate in the competition. The tournament then progresses through four rounds of competition, with the team winning three out of the four games advancing to the championship game. The winner of this final game is crowned the national champion.

The NCAA requires that all Division I lacrosse programs adhere to several guidelines and regulations to participate in the tournament. These rules include eligibility standards and formats for scheduling, as well as safety guidelines and criteria for seeding teams.

Rules of the game

The NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rules are designed with player safety in mind, covering everything from game length and equipment to definitions of personal fouls and types of violations.

Here is a brief overview of the rules that all participants need to follow during NCAA lacrosse games:

  • Equipment: All players must wear protective gear, including helmets, shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, and athletic supporters with cups.
  • Game length: A regulation NCAA lacrosse game consists of four quarters with 15 minutes each. Halftime will last for 10 minutes, and two timeouts will be available per team per game.
  • Penalties: Personal fouls, technical fouls, illegal procedure penalties, and ejection fouls can all result in a penalty flag being thrown by officials.
  • Substitutions: Subs must occur within their own end line at the referee's discretion, and all substitutes must enter the field before their teammate leaves it.
  • Overtime: In the case of a tie game after regulation play ends, teams will engage in either sudden victory or multiple overtime periods, depending on what type of tournament they are playing in.

NCAA Division I tournament

The NCAA Division I Lacrosse Tournament has been a popular American tradition since its introduction in 1971.

The tournament first happened in Hempstead, NY, and featured 12 teams from 11 conferences, including the Ivy League, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), and the Mid-American Conference.

Every year since then, teams from these select leagues have competed to reach the championship game, determining who will be crowned the NCAA champion. Teams are selected for the tournament through registered plays held during the regular season or off of an at-large bid based on rankings and performance.

The tournament works through single-elimination play, where each team competes against one another until only one winning team remains. Their success has been documented throughout history and is celebrated today as this great national event grows with intensity each year!

NCAA Division II tournament

ncaa d3 lacrosse tournament 2022

The NCAA Division II Lacrosse Tournament is an annual event that began in 1972.

Following the introduction of an NCAA tournament for Division I in 1971, the USILA held a separate "small college" tournament for two years for non-Division I schools.

In 1972, Hobart triumphed over Washington College 15-12 to win the USILA championship. Cortland State defeated Washington College 13-8 to claim the 1973 title.

The tournament determines the best team in college lacrosse and involves teams from across the country. Over the years, several teams of note have participated in the tournament, including IUPUI Jaguars, Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals, and Merrimack Warriors.

Each year, the tournament takes place at various host sites covering a total of six different regions of divisions - North East-10, East Coast Conference (ECC), Southern Conference (SoCon), Sunshine State (SSC) Conference, Midwest Lacrosse Conference (MLC) and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).

Ultimately, only one team can be crowned as the victor, but each year provides an opportunity for champions to emerge and demonstrate their lacrosse prowess.

NCAA Division III tournament

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament was first held in 1980 as The NCAA held a joint Division II and III tournament from 1974 to 1979.

At the time, only twenty-five teams from the United States participated in the tournament. Over the years, however, that number has grown, and currently, over one hundred fifty institutions compete for a chance to become DIII National Champions.

Despite being categorized as "Division III," this tournament is highly competitive and involves many talented teams. During tournaments, fans are treated to some of the most exciting lacrosse matches of the entire season; it's, therefore, no surprise that they've grown increasingly popular in recent years.

Wingate Memorial Trophy

The Wingate Memorial Trophy was the award presented to the national champion in men's college lacrosse before 1971, when the NCAA tournament format began. It was named after W. Wilson Wingate, a Baltimore sportswriter who also played lacrosse in college and earned the nickname "the fastest game on two feet."

Before the NCAA championships, the national champion was determined by a committee. The first intercollegiate lacrosse tournament took place in 1881 between Harvard and Princeton, won by Harvard 3-0.

Winners afterward were decided by the USILA executive board based on season records through various collegiate lacrosse associations such as ILA (1882-1905), IULL (1894-1905), USILL (1906-1925), and USILA (1926-1970).

The Wingate Memorial Trophy was presented from 1936 to 1972 before being retired after being awarded to NCAA champions for two consecutive years in 1971 and 1972.


Who made the lacrosse tournament 2022?

The 2022 Lacrosse Tournament was created by the National Lacrosse League (NLL) when Maryland beat Cornell.

Where is the 2023 NCAA lacrosse tournament held?

The 2023 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament will be held at US Lacrosse headquarters in Philadelphia, PA, at Lincoln Financial Field.

ncaa lacrosse tournament acc

When is the NCAA lacrosse championship?

The NCAA Lacrosse Championship is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend on May 28-30, 2023.

What is D1 lacrosse?

D1 Lacrosse is the highest level of men's lacrosse sanctioned by the NCAA, consisting of Division I schools and select non-Division I programs. It is the most competitive collegiate lacrosse league in the world.

What is D2 lacrosse?

D2 Lacrosse is the second-most competitive level of men's lacrosse sanctioned by the NCAA. It usually consists of Division II schools, though some non-Division II programs compete in the conference as well. Teams compete in regional championships to qualify for national championships.

What is D3 lacrosse?

D3 Lacrosse is the third-most competitive level of men's lacrosse sanctioned by the NCAA. It consists of Division III schools, though some non-Division III programs compete in the conference as well. Teams compete in regional championships to qualify for national championships.

When is the D3 lacrosse championship?

The D3 Lacrosse Championship is typically held in May each year. However, the exact date of the championship varies depending on the year and the specific conference involved.

How many NCAA lacrosse teams are there?

Over 200 NCAA lacrosse teams currently compete in men's and women's national divisions.

Where can I watch NCAA women's lacrosse?

You can watch NCAA Women's Lacrosse on the official NCAA website or through online streaming services like ESPN+.

When does the NCAA lacrosse tournament start?

The NCAA Lacrosse Tournament typically starts in late May with the play-in games and continues through the end of June. The exact dates for the 2023 tournament have yet to be determined.

How to watch NCAA men's lacrosse live?

You can watch NCAA Men's Lacrosse live on the official NCAA website or through online streaming services like ESPN+.


The NCAA tournament lacrosse is one of the premier annual events in college sports, providing a thrilling display of athleticism and skill.

With the 2023 tournament dates still to be determined, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the action or researching how you can watch it live. 

No matter what your viewing preferences are, there's sure to be a way for you to enjoy this annual event.

Freddy Woods

Freddy is the heart and soul of Lacrosse Runner. As a former athlete, Freddy is very passionate about Lacrosse. He keeps up with the sport's changes and innovations and often tests the new equipment released by the leading manufacturers. Read more here