The Washington Times - May 14, 2012, 09:01PM

BALTIMORE – Some things get repeated so often in sports (and in life) that they’re assumed to be true.

Take something heard during conference basketball tournaments for a long time: It’s hard to beat a team three times in a year.

SEE RELATED:


It probably isn’t if you’re immensely talented and your opponent is not. But when the respective rosters are more evenly matched? Maybe there’s merit to it.

The cliche has found its way into this weekend’s NCAA lacrosse quarterfinals, where top-seeded Loyola will play Denver for the third time in five weeks on Saturday in Annapolis.

So, what about it?

“That’s going to play its way out on Saturday,” said Loyola coach Charley Toomey, whose team beat the Pioneers twice in the Mile High City.

Indeed. Familiarity cuts both ways, and both Loyola (15-1) and Denver (9-6) are well aware of what challenges the other poses.

But what about historically? How often do teams even face each other three times in a season?

This realistically wasn’t possible until conference tournaments began to spring up across the landscape. And there’s only so many times teams have had regular season, conference tournament and NCAA tournament meetings:

1992 (MARYLAND-DUKE)

RS: Maryland 14-13
ACCT: Maryland 8-6
NCAAT: Maryland 13-11

1994 (VIRGINIA-NORTH CAROLINA)

RS: Virginia 16-6
ACCT: North Carolina 15-7
NCAAT: Virginia 12-10

2005 (DUKE-MARYLAND)

RS: Duke 10-8
ACCT: Maryland 9-5
NCAAT: Duke 18-9

2007 (DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA)

RS: Duke 9-7
ACCT: Duke 13-9
NCAAT: Duke 19-11

2008 (VIRGINIA-MARYLAND)

RS: Maryland 13-7
ACCT: Virginia 11-8
NCAAT: Virginia 8-7

2009 (DUKE-NORTH CAROLINA)

RS: Duke 12-8
ACCT: Duke 15-13
NCAAT: Duke 12-11

2010 (DUKE-VIRGINIA)

RS: Duke 13-9
ACCT: Virginia 16-12
NCAAT: Duke 14-13

2011 (MARYLAND-NORTH CAROLINA)

RS: North Carolina 11-6
ACCT: Maryland 7-6
NCAAT: Maryland 13-6

2011 (DUKE-MARYLAND)

RS: Duke 9-8
ACCT: Maryland 11-9
NCAAT: Maryland 9-4

So that’s nine instances, all involving ACC schools. That’s not a surprise since the ACC has the longest-running Division I conference tournament and has sent all four of its teams to the NCAA tournament every year since 2007.

In three of those cases – 1992 Maryland-Duke, 2007 Duke-North Carolina and 2009 Duke-North Carolina – a team swept all three games. Those are also the only instances when a team entered the NCAA tournament matchup with a 2-0 edge, so it sure doesn’t look like winning twice already would create additional headaches in an extra meeting.

Which brings things back to Loyola and the task in front of it with a spot in the final four at stake.

“They definitely know what they need to do and how they need to prepare to win a game,” Toomey said. “I’ve said it all year, this team is going to go where the fight is. They don’t care. They’re going to play whoever the next opponent on the schedule is and prepare the same way.”

Patrick Stevens