NCAA lacrosse tournament pairings announced; Maryland and Virginia will both play Sunday
By Christian Swezey,
The Maryland and Virginia men’s lacrosse teams were selected to the NCAA tournament on Sunday night. The 16-team tournament begins Saturday and culminates in Foxborough, Mass., May 26-28.
Virginia (11-3), the defending national champion, opens with a home game against Princeton (11-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Meantime, Maryland (9-5) faces Patriot League champion Lehigh (14-2) on the road on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The Mountain Hawks are in the NCAA tournament for the first time.
Loyola (14-1) is the top overall seed for the first time since 1999.
NCAA tournament selection committee chairman Tony Seaman, the former coach at Penn, Johns Hopkins and Towson, said this was the toughest year of his four years on the committee.
“We’ve been here 17 hours,” said Seaman in an interview during the selection show, “and we have looked at every possible thing for 27 teams.”
The tournament features seven automatic bids — given to conference champions — and nine at-large berths. There was little intrigue among the at-large berths. The first team not to make the tournament likely was Penn State (9-6).
The Nittany Lions had an RPI ranking of No. 16 and an overtime victory over No. 5 Notre Dame. Yet they lost in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament semifinals.
The final team in likely was Princeton. The Tigers were No. 10 in the RPI and No 12 in strength of schedule, but they had only three wins over teams with winning records. In their favor, Princeton was the Ivy League regular season champion, with a 6-0 mark, and its losses to Johns Hopkins, North Carolina and Syracuse were by a combined four goals.
“We felt Princeton had a stable RPI at number 10,” Seaman said, “and Cornell and Penn State were far removed from that.”
There are several mouthwatering first-round matchups. The Princeton-Virginia game pits teams that have won a combined 11 NCAA titles. On Saturday at noon, ACC champion Duke (13-4) faces Big East champion Syracuse (9-7) in Durham, N.C.
The game between No. 6 Massachusetts (15-0) and Colgate (13-3) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. features Raiders junior Peter Baum, the nation’s leading scorer. Baum, a native of Portland, Ore., has 64 goals and 29 assists. He had five goals and two assists in Colgate’s 13-11 victory over Maryland on Saturday. Baum can play attack or midfield, as a righty or lefty and can pass and shoot equally well.
Among local teams, neither Navy nor Georgetown was selected. The Midshipmen (6-6) missed the postseason for the third consecutive season, though they ended the year with an 8-2 victory over No. 2 seed Johns Hopkins.
The Hoyas (7-6) also ended strong; they had a two-game winning streak, including a 10-8 victory over Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. According to the RPI rankings on the Web site Laxpower.com, the Hoyas’ season included losses to teams ranked Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 9.
The quarterfinals are May 19 in Annapolis and May 20 in Chester, Pa.
Locals dot women’s field
Maryland, Virginia and Navy each made the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament. The ACC champion Terrapins (17-3) host Massachusetts (19-1) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Patriot League champion Midshipmen (18-2) visit North Carolina (14-3) on Saturday at noon; and the Cavaliers (11-7) travel to face Duke (11-6) on Sunday at 2 p.m.