Running down the impact of the six games from Wednesday night. …
• A team with a losing record will represent the America East after Stony Brook (6-9) and Albany (5-10) advanced to the conference title game. The winner of Saturday’s contest will be just the third sub-.500 team to make the tournament since automatic qualifiers were added in 2001, joining 2002 Hobart (6-7 on Selection Sunday) and 2007 Providence (7-9).
• Whoever wins will be a candidate to hop on a flight to Duke or Notre Dame, with a bus trip to either Loyola or Massachusetts also a possibility.
• Albany and Stony Brook are a combined 2-16 against nonconference opponents this season.
• Massachusetts (14-0) is a victory away from an undefeated regular season after thrashing Towson in the CAA semifinals. The Tigers (7-8) weren’t a serious at-large possibility anyway, but it does take them off the board altogether.
• Drexel (8-7) is a lurking bid thief after winning at Penn State (9-6). The Dragons were 0-6 against the top 20 of the RPI before last night. The loss takes the Nittany Lions out of play for stealthily earning one of the eight seeds in the tournament, but their overall profile should get them in barring absolute chaos in the next few days.
• Bubblers will be rooting for Massachusetts, which is safely in the field even with a loss. Drexel would be an at-large longshot if it can’t upset the Minutemen.
• Loyola (13-1) played 45 incredible minutes, melted down while blowing a seven-goal lead in the fourth quarter, then scored off the opening faceoff of overtime to down Denver. The Greyhounds were in decent shape to earn a home game anyway, but that victory essentially seals a first-round game at Ridley. They’re in line for a top-four seed with a win in Friday’s league title game.
• Denver (8-6) remains in decent shape for an at-large bid despite the loss. The Pioneers will ride last week’s upset of Duke right into a spot in the postseason.
• Fairfield (12-3) will meet Loyola in the ECAC final after fending off Ohio State. The Stags’ strength of schedule jumped 10 spots as a result of getting a second crack at the Greyhounds. Still, a limited number of remotely quality victories (Denver, Ohio State) means Fairfield probably needs the ECAC’s AQ to get in. Chaos would hurt the Stags, while a Villanova loss to Syracuse tonight would probably help.
• It’s hard to see Ohio State (8-7) making the field at this stage. The RPI (17) isn’t far off the pace of other bubblers, and the Buckeyes played a strong schedule. But their quality victories (Denver and Fairfield) will only help so much. The slightest bit of tumult will knock them out for good.
For the most part, the bracket remains unchanged from Monday morning. Princeton and Penn State swapped opponents, but things otherwise are the same. Also of note: Just 18 games remain until the selection committee completes the 16-team field on Sunday.
(1) Duke vs. AMERICA EAST/Stony Brook
(8) Maryland vs. PATRIOT/Lehigh
(4) North Carolina vs. Denver
(5) Virginia vs. Penn State
(3) ECAC/Loyola vs. Villanova
(6) Johns Hopkins vs. IVY/Princeton
(2) BIG EAST/Notre Dame vs. METRO ATLANTIC/Siena
(7) COLONIAL/Massachusetts vs. Colgate