- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The NCAA selection committee could have a curious decision at the top of the bracket this weekend.

Strength of schedule and RPI are two of the primary factors the committee is supposed to consider (along with quality victories) for selection and seeding. Secondary concerns include head-to-head results and record against common opponents.

There is a chance Duke, based on its loaded schedule and slew of high-quality victories (Virginia twice, North Carolina twice, and Maryland, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins all on the road) could wind up No. 1 in both the strength of schedule and RPI. But the Blue Devils have two losses, including one at home to unbeaten Cornell.

So what is the committee to do? Stick to the numbers or apply what seems to be common sense (assuming both Duke and Cornell win this weekend)?

For the record, I came very close to moving Duke to No. 1 on my Inside Lacrosse ballot this week after watching the Blue Devils pick apart North Carolina and Virginia in the ACC tournament. And if anyone is built to win four straight in May, it is Duke.

But for now, Cornell will remain the projected No. 1 seed. At the other end of the draw, there can only be so many teams on the selection committee’s radar at this juncture. It could be a matter of teams like Towson, Drexel and UMBC playing their way out in conference tournaments this week that determine the bottom of the field.

Towson’s game on Wednesday against Hofstra is curious, especially after coach Tony Seaman told the Baltimore Sun the Pride

“walked out of here awfully lucky” when they escaped Johnny U Stadium with an overtime victory last month. Hofstra coach Seth Tierney had plenty of experience breaking down the Tigers as the offensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins in recent years. It could happen again.

Anyway, a best guess at the 16-team field with just 23 regular-season games remaining in all of Division I:

(1) IVY/Cornell vs. MAAC/Siena

(8) North Carolina vs. PATRIOT/Navy

(5) ECAC/Georgetown vs. CAA/Towson

(4) Johns Hopkins vs. GWLL/Notre Dame

(3) Virginia vs. Drexel

(6) Maryland vs. Loyola

(7) Princeton vs. AMERICA EAST/Albany

(2) Duke vs. UMBC

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