When the men's lacrosse committee gathers in Indianapolis on Sunday to figure out the 16-team NCAA tournament bracket, it will examine Rating Percentage Index positions, strength of schedules and, above all, tournament candidates' wins against top 5, top 10 and top 15 opponents.
"Bad" losses probably will not carry enough weight to make a difference, said committee chairman Jon Hind, Butler University's assistant athletic director. For starters, numerous teams likely to fill out the 10 at-large bids have three, four or five losses, a reflection of the parity in the sport.
FOR THE RECORD - The NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament selection announcement is scheduled to be broadcast live tomorrow between 9:30 and 10 p.m. by ESPNews. An article in yesterday's editions indicated that it would air on ESPN2.
The Sun regrets the error.
"The leeway is always there to make losses count, but I know from the two years I've been on the committee, we haven't referred to losses," Hind said. "The numbers will crunch their way out."
But Mike Pressler, Duke coach and committee member, said: "I think we'll look at losses more closely, because there's more of them. But the bottom line is you've got to beat somebody, and you've got to play somebody."
He was alluding to the high priorities placed on quality wins and strength of schedule - the primary factors in the NCAA's criteria for at-large selections.
By that logic, look for No. 13 Dartmouth (7-4) to make it, even though the Big Green has lost to unranked Princeton and Sacred Heart. Dartmouth's 7-6 victory over fifth-ranked Maryland can't be dismissed.
By that logic, look for Maryland (8-5), with Atlantic Coast Conference tournament wins over Duke and Virginia, to elevate as high as a No. 3 seed. The Terps, who were 5-5 and in danger of missing the postseason two weeks ago by possibly not reaching a .500 record in regular-season play, beat a pair of top-five schools last week and also have defeated No. 8 Georgetown and 10th-ranked Towson.
Also, don't knock out No. 14 Bucknell (8-5) or No. 17 Penn State (8-5) just yet. Bucknell still can hang its hat on a win over third-ranked Navy. Penn State most likely would earn a spot by upsetting Georgetown on Sunday.
And even if No. 18 Albany concedes an automatic bid by losing to Stony Brook in tomorrow's America East tournament final, the Great Danes still have beaten No. 7 Massachusetts and Dartmouth and will command strong consideration for an at-large berth.
The smoke will clear at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, when the pairings are announced on ESPN2. The at-large teams will join automatic qualifiers from the America East, Colonial Athletic Association (Towson or Delaware), Great Western Lacrosse League (Fairfield or Denver) and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, where Providence is favored in this weekend's league tournament.
Navy and No. 4 Cornell already have won the Patriot League and Ivy League, respectively.
ACC liked M&T
The ACC will bring its men's and women's tournaments back to M&T Bank Stadium next April 28-30 to complete its two-year agreement with the Ravens, and the conference's championships director said the first time around gave the league plenty to build on.
The event drew a record attendance of 14,481, including 5,681 for Sunday's men's final, won by Maryland over Duke. The previous total attendance record was 10,231 two years ago at the University of Virginia.
"The Ravens were really cooperative. The teams were pleased with the [playing] surface. The fan support was good. We certainly hope we can build on that," said Davis Whitfield, ACC director of championships.
UMass enjoys health
The reason seventh-ranked Massachusetts (11-2) has turned the corner after last year's disappointing 7-7 finish and could make a serious run at its first final four appearance boils down to good health.
Junior attackman Sean Morris, limited a year ago by mononucleosis, leads the Minutemen in goals (34) and assists (21). Senior attackman Jeff Zywicki, who didn't play a full game last year and had back surgery, is second with 32 goals.
"Take out your best players and see what happens against a lot of teams that are gunning for you," coach Greg Cannella said. "It makes a big difference."
The week ahead
No. 1 Johns Hopkins (11-0)
Schedule: vs. Loyola, tomorrow, 3 p.m.
Skinny: The Blue Jays should complete their first undefeated regular season since 1995 and earn their fourth consecutive No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. The last team to finish the regular season unbeaten was Loyola in 1999. The Greyhounds did not make it out of the quarterfinals, and the 1995 Blue Jays lost in the semifinals.
No. 5 Maryland (8-5)
Schedule: at Penn, tomorrow, 1 p.m.
Skinny: Sophomore goalie Harry Alford has gotten hot again at the right time, as has freshman faceoff man Will Dalton, who won 14 of 21 draws at the ACC tournament. Freshman attackman Max Ritz has given the offense a big boost with six goals in his past three games.
No. 10 Towson (10-4)
Schedule: at No. 16 Delaware, tomorrow, 7 p.m., CAA tournament final