There was a chance a midweek bracketology could be avoided.
Hofstra’s loss to Villanova went ahead and upset that possibility.
As a result, Hofstra slides back into the at-large field, probably occupying a spot inside the field. But someone gets bumped for the moment – and amazingly, that someone is 9-4 Loyola.
The Greyhounds have had an interesting season, beating everyone they were supposed to while losing to Duke, Massachusetts, Notre Dame and Syracuse by a combined six goals. It’s a very 2002 Maryland-like year – and remember those Terps missed the field despite the fact its four losses all came by a goal.
Of course, it’s important to remember Brown still counts as an automatic qualifier for these purposes. But the Bears would be a tough team to include if they lose to Princeton on Saturday, mainly because of a shaky strength of schedule. Not an impossible one, but a tough one.
Still, they’re in. And without rehashing the whole chart (we’ll wait until Sunday before breaking that out again), here’s a 16-team field to ponder as the weekend approaches:
(1) Duke vs. MAAC/Siena
(8) Cornell vs. Hofstra
(5) Johns Hopkins vs. PATRIOT/Navy
(4) North Carolina vs. AMERICA EAST/UMBC
(3) Syracuse vs. IVY/Brown
(6) Princeton vs. ECAC/Massachusetts
(7) GWLL/Notre Dame vs. Maryland
(2) Virginia vs. CAA/Towson
Last four out: Loyola, Georgetown, Colgate, Harvard
* The Duke and Syracuse quadrants still funnel into Hofstra, while the Virginia and North Carolina quadrants funnel into Navy.
* Upon further review, I flipped North Carolina and Johns Hopkins in the bracket. It’s a matter of which shade of blue they wear in the quarterfinals, and nothing more.
* The difference between Maryland and Loyola? Two superlative victories. The Terps upended Duke and North Carolina (and nearly beat Virginia), and those are two trump cards heading forward.
* It’s possible to envision Massachusetts traveling to Notre Dame and Maryland staying on the East Coast and playing at Princeton. UMBC and Navy could also be flipped.
* If Towson (7-9) does beat Villanova, it’ll be curious to see what the committee does with a team with a losing record. Maybe the Tigers go to Durham, Siena (or the MAAC champion) goes to Syracuse and there’s a cascade effect with the rest of the bracket (Brown to Notre Dame, Maryland to Princeton, Massachusetts to Hopkins, Navy to North Carolina and UMBC to Virginia). Or maybe not.
* If geography is a huge concern, this bracket is close to ideal. The only non-northern team funneled into Hofstra is Duke. The only non-southern team funneled into Annapolis is Notre Dame (which is an outlier regardless).
* Suddenly, there are a lot more fans of Notre Dame completing a perfect season this weekend. Some of them reside in College Park and Georgetown.
* So much uncertainty, and only 18 games total remaining in the regular season. Amazing.