Relief and disappointment for two area programs punctuated the release of the NCAA tournament brackets Sunday night.
Despite four losses in its past seven contests, the No. 13 Maryland men's lacrosse team earned one of nine at-large bids and will travel to Indiana to face seventh seed Notre Dame (15-0) at noon Sunday.
The Terps (9-6) had stumbled in recent weeks, losing a seven-overtime thriller to then-No. 1 Virginia, dropping back-to-back games to in-state rivals Navy and Johns Hopkins, and getting ousted from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament by a North Carolina team that had previously lost 12 straight in tournament action.
But Maryland was buoyed by wins against two teams ranked in the top 10 in Rating Percentage Index in Duke and North Carolina and a strength of schedule rated 12th in the country by LaxPower .com.
"When you have one of the best schedules in the country - and we had two wins against the top six teams - and you start looking around at those you're comparing yourself to, we had a very good chance of getting in," said coach Dave Cottle, whose Terps squad has not missed an NCAA tournament since 2002, Cottle's first season at Maryland. "I just felt like when you looked at the full body of work, our top-10 games were pretty good."
The trip to No. 3 Notre Dame, the Great Western Lacrosse League champions for the second consecutive year, should be especially interesting for Terps junior attackman Will Yeatman, who transferred from the Fighting Irish during the offseason.
There are, however, no travel plans for No. 18 Loyola, which was left out of the 16-team field. It is believed that though the Greyhounds (9-5) played the third-toughest schedule according to LaxPower.com and had a better RPI (9) than teams such as Brown (12) and Maryland (14), they were not invited because they did not have a win against a team in the tournament field.
On the other hand, the Bears from the Ivy League defeated conference champion Cornell and Eastern College Athletic Conference champion Massachusetts, which edged Loyola, 8-6, on March 21.
"When you play the strength of schedule that we do, you're going to have some losses on your resume," said Charley Toomey, whose program had gone to two NCAA tournaments in his three years guiding the Greyhounds. "I think when you play 14 games, you have to look at the entire body of work, including who you play."
The news was much better for No. 9 Johns Hopkins (9-4), No. 11 UMBC (12-3) and No. 12 Navy (11-4).
The Blue Jays earned the eighth seed and will play host to Brown (12-3) at noon Saturday. The Bears, who are making their first appearance in the tournament since 1997, are 1-9 all time against Johns Hopkins.
The Retrievers, who captured their third America East tournament crown in four years, will play at No. 6 seed North Carolina at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The No. 8 Tar Heels (11-5) lost to Duke in the ACC tournament final last month.
The Midshipmen, the Patriot League tournament champions for the fifth time in six years, will play at third seed Duke at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Blue Devils (13-3) have captured three consecutive ACC tournament crowns and are on a seven-game winning streak that includes two victories over Virginia.
Despite those two losses to Duke after opening the season with 10 straight victories, the Cavaliers earned the top seed in the tournament and will welcome Villanova (11-5), the Colonial Athletic Association tournament champion, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Reigning national champion Syracuse (11-2) earned the No. 2 seed and will play host to Siena (12-5), the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament champion, which will be making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston contributed to this article.