The Washington Times - April 29, 2009, 10:36PM

There was a chance a midweek bracketology could be avoided.

Hofstra’s loss to Villanova went ahead and upset that possibility.

SEE RELATED:


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

Bracket notes:

* 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.

Patrick Stevens