George Mason will play at Virginia Sunday in the first round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament, but Patriots Coach Gordon Bradley can't understand why.
The No. 2 Cavaliers (16-2-2) are the top seed in the South Atlantic region and No. 13 George Mason (13-4-3) is the fourth seed, the NCAA soccer committee announced yesterday.
William and Mary, which is ranked 16th and won the Colonial Athletic Association championship, plays No. 20 Loyola in Baltimore this weekend in the other South Atlantic game.
Despite qualifying for the tournament as an at-large team, Bradley doesn't think his team should have to play Virginia, the nation's top-ranked team for half the season.
"I felt confident about hosting a game, but the committee didn't give it to us," Bradley said. "I figured we would be the No. 2 seed in the region."
"I am a little surprised they were the fourth seed," Virginia Coach Bruce Arena said of Mason.
The Patriots defeated both William and Mary and Loyola in the regular season. However, Navy Coach Greg Myers, chairman of the selection committee, said other things must be considered besides head-to-head results.
"It was easy to pick the first 16 teams, but the final seven or eight were so close," said Myers, who was involved in a conference call until 3:45 Monday morning. "It was very nerve-wracking. We were splitting hairs, looking for significant things to make a determination."
William and Mary and Loyola received automatic bids by winning their respective conferences. Also, the Greyhounds usually draw large crowds at their home field.
The other regional top seeds are Adelphi (New York), Connecticut (New England), UCLA (Far West), Southern Methodist (Midwest), Indiana (Great Lakes), Rutgers (Mid-Atlantic), and South Carolina (South).
Five Atlantic Coast Conference teams are in the tournament.