- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2007

When NCAA tournament talk arose Wednesday after his team dusted off Hofstra 11-5, Towson coach Tony Seaman said with as much assurance as he could muster that the Tigers had punched their ticket to the postseason.

I couldn’t help but agree, and mentioned it to Seaman as the postgame interview dispersed.

“God, I hope so,” Seaman grumbled in a tone closer to exasperation than prayerfulness.

Given his team’s strong schedule and a startling lack of options better than a 9-5 team that has lost to the three best teams (Johns Hopkins, Maryland and Virginia) on its schedule and split with Loyola and UMBC, it’s hard to see Towson outside the 16-team field. The Tigers can make it easy on themselves by dispatching Delaware on Saturday in the CAA final.

Towson’s profile would scream bubble in most seasons. But just about every coach or person connected with the sport I’ve talked to in the last few weeks agrees there just aren’t many viable teams for the NCAA tournament selection committee to choose from.

Syracuse’s run of 24 straight seasons at .500 or better is over. Army’s streak ended at 11 seasons. Hofstra — a fantastic sleeper for a top-10 push in 2008, by the way — was decimated by graduation and went from last year’s No. 3 seed to a 6-8 team with seven one-goal losses.

That’s why, at least for this year, “the bubble” should be rechristened “the dimple.”

It’s especially true if Albany (America East) and Towson win their respective leagues. Under that scenario, the committee would select the four ACC schools, Johns Hopkins, Loyola and Princeton for seven at-larges.

With those teams out of the way, two spots would remain for Colgate, Delaware, Drexel, Massachusetts, UMBC and Yale. Colgate (at Syracuse) and Yale (at Maryland) probably need to win Saturday to have a chance. Massachusetts’ resume is nothing special. Drexel’s case rides on a February victory at Virginia, and the Dragons lost to Delaware on Wednesday. UMBC, with its victory over Towson and superb nonconference schedule, is the star of the group.

If there is a bright side, it’s that the committee will probably spend more time seeding teams than selecting them, and their work in setting matchups should be what they are most scrutinized for come Sunday night.

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