The Washington Times - April 18, 2011, 09:40AM

Yes, Syracuse lost last week – and at home, no less – to Cornell.

But the Orange remain No. 1 in solid replicas of the RPI and strength of schedule formulas (courtesy of LaxPower) used by the NCAA selection committee to bracket the 16-team field.

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Oh, and Syracuse also owns victories over Nos. 4-8 in the RPI (Villanova, Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Denver and Duke).

So the Orange remains the top overall seed in this week’s projection.

As for how to sort out the ACC – home of three teams with both four losses and a strength of schedule in the top five – this weekend’s ACC tournament will help sort that out a bit.

Onto the breakdown:

(1) Syracuse vs. METRO ATLANTIC/Siena
(8) North Carolina vs. ECAC/Denver

The Orange will likely wind up the No. 1 seed if they defeat Notre Dame in a couple weeks. Hobart, Rutgers and St. John’s also remain on Syracuse’s schedule … Siena’s probably the best team in the Metro Atlantic, but keep an eye on Detroit in that league tournament in a few weeks. The Titans would get shipped to South Bend to play Notre Dame and save on costs if they made the NCAA field. … Carolina plowed through Presbyterian and Lehigh last week. One more win – whether against Maryland in the ACC tournament or against Notre Dame in the regular season finale – probably ensures a home game for the Tar Heels. … Strength of schedule might cost Denver a home game in the tournament, but the Pioneers will be ultra-dangerous wherever they play. … This portion of the draw would get a quarterfinal in Foxborough.

(4) Duke vs. COLONIAL/Delaware
(5) Johns Hopkins vs. Hofstra

What to do with the Blue Devils, who have three ACC wins and not much else to their resume? For now, seeding remains a bit of a headache … That goes for Hopkins, too, which very much warrants its No. 3 national ranking. The strength of schedule (No. 12) isn’t entirely helping the Blue Jays. Aside from the first half against Maryland on Saturday, no one’s played better in the last month. … Hofstra’s 11-1 and owns just two victories over teams with winning records (Colgate and Harvard). Delaware is 9-4 with just one win over a team with a record over .500 (Hofstra). Commence a #2bids4CAA Twitter hashtag at your own peril. … With Hofstra among the quarterfinal hosts, the winners of these two first round games would meet in Hempstead during the tournament’s second weekend.

(3) IVY/Cornell vs. PATRIOT/Bucknell
(6) Virginia vs. Penn

The Big Red won’t have to worry about snagging a home game. Beating Syracuse did far more for them than rolling through the Ivy League. … No one wants Villanova to remain a top-five team more than Bucknell. The Bison actually have a comparable profile to Hofstra; if both teams land in the at-large pool, a signature win – even an unconventional one – will help. Too bad Villanova’s done playing teams with winning records already, which means staying in the top five of the RPI will be difficult. … The secondary winners of Cornell’s upset are the two teams that beat the Big Red: Army and Virginia. Army could be a sneaky at-large possibility if it doesn’t win the Patriot. Despite a 1-3 stretch, Virginia still safely gets a home game. … Penn still owns RPI and strength of schedule numbers in the top 10. The 6-4 Quakers already look like the ultimate wild card for Selection Sunday. … The winners of these two games would meet at Hofstra.

(2) Notre Dame vs. AMERICA EAST/Stony Brook
(7) Villanova vs. Maryland

No arguments with the Fighting Irish as the No. 2 seed. Notre Dame is the last of the unbeatens for the second time in three years. … Stony Brook still paces the America East and needs one win in the next two weeks to clinch the top seed in the conference tournament. … Villanova’s remaining schedule: St. John’s, Rutgers, Providence and Georgetown. Not the ticket to improving a resume. … Maryland’s strength of schedule jumped from 32 to 21 just by cycling out Saint Joseph’s for Johns Hopkins. The Terps would gain a lot in general from beating North Carolina in the ACC semis, but their schedule strength boost from playing Duke or Virginia would be of significant help. … This set of games would be funneled into Foxborough for the quarterfinals.

Patrick Stevens