The Washington Times - May 7, 2012, 12:32AM

It is Maryland coach John Tillman’s opinion his team has worn an underdog role exceptionally well in his two seasons in College Park.

He’ll have the chance to test his theory in this month’s NCAA tournament.

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The Terrapins (9-5) are unseeded for the second straight season and will visit seventh-seeded Lehigh (14-2) in a first round game Sunday night in Bethlehem, Pa.

A likely matchup with second-seeded Johns Hopkins in Annapolis would loom in the quarterfinals if Maryland advances. The Blue Jays (11-3) face Stony Brook (7-9) in the first round.

“I think sometimes handling adversity is easier than handling success,” Tillman said Sunday night. “We have to be focused and do all the right things. Maybe you’re locked into doing it to a higher standard knowing ‘Well, if you let your guard down …’”

There is a measure of unpredictability to this Maryland team. The Terps beat Duke and Johns Hopkins but lost to UMBC in a midweek game. They also stumbled in their regular-season finale Saturday against Colgate.

That game effectively cost Maryland a chance to host its tournament opener. There was a case to be made for the Terps to open the tournament at Byrd Stadium last year, when they were shipped to North Carolina.

This time, there were no complaints – not after Saturday and not after going 0-4 in two-goal games.

“Looking at our body of work, I don’t think we have a leg to stand on if we wanted to be a seeded team,” Tillman said. “We had our chances to be a seeded team and we didn’t earn that. We were maybe close to it, but we didn’t get it done.”

They’ll get a chance to make up for it, much like they did during last year’s run to the national title game. And like then, Maryland will probably be an underdog throughout – just how the Terps like it.

Patrick Stevens