The general thinking in the final week of the college lacrosse regular season was the work of the NCAA tournament selection committee could prove to be downright predictable.
Turns out conventional wisdom was wrong.
Unbeaten Cornell tumbled to the No. 4 seed by virtue of its weak schedule, a stunning twist for a team that spent half the season atop the national rankings.
Duke, which earned the No. 1 seed, Virginia and Johns Hopkins all leapfrogged the Big Red with the help of demonstrably tougher schedules.
One anticipated scenario held to form: All four area teams — Georgetown, Maryland, Navy and Virginia — earned invitations, and all but Navy will play host to games in next weekend’s first round.
Georgetown (11-2), winners of the ECAC, might be involved in the first-round’s most tantalizing matchup. The sixth-seeded Hoyas will play host to Princeton (10-3) on Sunday, with the winner to face either Johns Hopkins or Notre Dame at Princeton in the quarterfinals.
“I thought we might be 5 or 6 [seed], but that isn’t as big a deal for me as other people,” Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. “Some people get themselves all upset about and agonize over it. You’ve got to play. You play your way in and play your way out. Now you win or you watch.”
Patriot League champion Navy (11-3) will visit eighth-seeded North Carolina (9-5) on Saturday in a matchup predicted by plenty. The Midshipmen blasted North Carolina 19-8 on March 2 but must go on the road to earn a trip back to Annapolis for the quarterfinals after losing three one-goal games in the second half.
The winner of that game likely will face Duke (14-2), which drew Providence (7-9) in the first round.
“I mentioned to the team before the announcement that anything can happen, but don’t be surprised if you’re playing in Chapel Hill, N.C., next Saturday,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “We’re excited to be in the tournament and to have a chance to advance. We had the opportunity to kind of solidify a home game during the regular season, and we didn’t do that.”
Seventh-seeded Maryland (10-5) drew America East runner-up Maryland-Baltimore County (10-5) for a first-round game at Byrd Stadium. The Terrapins won the teams’ regular-season meeting 11-7.
“I just think we’re playing better and better each week,” said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, who was a member of the selection committee. “We’re working hard and playing hard and caring about each other, and who knows what’s going to happen.”
The Maryland-UMBC winner will face either second-seeded Virginia (12-3) or Delaware (11-5) in a quarterfinal game at Navy.
The Cavaliers, who suffered two of their three losses at Duke, will attempt to become the first team to repeat as national champions since Princeton (1996-98).
“I’m a little surprised we’re the No. 2 seed going in. It certainly speaks to the fact we had a good regular season … but I am shocked Cornell is a 4 seed,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “I know there was some debate between Duke and Cornell, but I would tell you Cornell beat Duke at Duke and Cornell’s undefeated. I know the committee is trying to do this by number and RPI and strength of schedule, but some of this stuff stretches what I would think is common sense.”