In tourney field, only middle grounded Questions at top, bottom still loom for committee

May 02, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A day before the NCAA tournament bids are announced, there are questions from top to bottom. Actually, the only two vital questions remaining are which teams will be at the top and bottom.

It appears that the sole intrigue heading into the final weekend of the regular season is which team will take the No. 1 seed and which school will receive the final spot in the tournament.

Princeton and Maryland are butting heads over the top seed, which has become a special commodity based on this year's tournament field.

Since most coaches agree that the top tier consists of the top seven teams, the No. 1 seed will most likely play a much weaker team in the No. 8 seed. That means No. 1 could face a school like Georgetown or Hofstra and No. 2 probably will be handed a difficult matchup with Duke, which has only lost to Virginia and Maryland.

Yet Princeton coach Bill Tierney or Maryland coach Dick Edell both declined to comment on the significance of being No. 1. "I feel there is a great balance this year in lacrosse," Tierney said. "You can't turn your backs on anyone."

Once the top is settled, the only other tough decision for the committee will be the 12th and final selection.

Should Hobart (8-3) receive its first Division I berth after losing its previous three games, including 13-goal defeats to Duke and Syracuse? Or what about Massachusetts (7-4), loser of four of its past five?

Then there is the interesting case of North Carolina (7-7), which has lost all seven of its games to teams ranked in the top nine and ended the season with a three-game winning streak.

The Tar Heels became eligible for the tournament with a .500 record with their win over Ohio State on Wednesday. However, that game was hastily put together in late March with Buckeyes coach Joe Breschi, a 1990 North Carolina alumnus, when the Tar Heels were 3-5.

"We have the hardest schedule in the country," said North Carolina attackman Chase Martin, a Gilman product. "I think the tournament selectors want the best teams in the nation, and I think we're one of them."

Loyola, Jays play for pride

The Charles Street Massacre will be played for pride and not a top four seeding.

That's the opinion of Loyola coach Dave Cottle, whose No. 4 Greyhounds (11-1) play host to neighborhood rival No. 3 Johns Hopkins (10-2) today and look to improve on a series it trails 34-1.

"I don't see anybody that could jump ahead of us," Cottle said. "Virginia at 7-4 has more losses than us and we beat Syracuse head-to-head.

"I think the significance of this game is that the schools are about one mile apart, and we are 1-5 against them in the last few years and we'd like to win one."

Tourney picture

@4 A look at how the NCAA tournament is shaping up:

Top four

Maryland, Princeton, Hopkins, Loyola

Other locks

Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, Butler

Probably in

Georgetown, Hofstra, Harvard

Fighting for last spot

Hobart, North Carolina, Massachusetts

Today's games

No. 3 Johns Hopkins (10-2) at No. 4 Loyola (11-1)

Site: Curley Field

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/radio: Ch. 2/WJFK (1300 AM)

Skinny: Their past four regular-season games have been decided by seven goals.

Towson (4-7) at Vermont (5-7)

Site: Centennial Field, Burlington, Vt.

Time: 1 p.m.

Radio: WTMD (98.7 FM)

Skinny: The Tigers are averaging 20 goals in two meetings against the Catamounts.

No. 2 Maryland (11-1) at UMBC (8-4)

Site: UMBC Stadium

Time: 2 p.m.

Skinny: The Terrapins are looking to tie the school record for wins in a season.

Pub Date: 5/02/98

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