- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2007

So college lacrosse’s favorite buzzword — parity — is in vogue again now that the first round of the NCAA tournament is upon us.

But will it be at this time next week? History says don’t bet on it.

Since the NCAA went to a 16-team field with home sites in 2003, home teams are 29-3 in the first round. One was a Georgetown victory in 2003 at Rutgers in a game that should have been played in the District. Another was Cornell’s victory at Towson in 2005 when Towson was a dubious selection as a No. 7 seed.

Then last year, Massachusetts knocked off sixth-seeded Cornell, but that was the first strike for a team that shuffled through the regular season. The Minutemen backed up the victory by beating third-seeded Hofstra on Long Island and upsetting a sluggish Maryland team in the semifinals before absorbing one of Virginia’s patented beatdowns in the title game.

Coaches have warned of parity for years, and it seemed to be in bloom with stunning early upsets (Drexel over Virginia, Albany over Johns Hopkins, Army over Syracuse) this year. But things have generally settled down in the last two months, and a case can be made the most stunning result of the year was actually a dreadful Hartford team shocking Stony Brook last month. And beyond true lacrosse afficionados, that outcome resonates about as much as the impending presidential election in East Timor.

Could a few visiting teams knock off their seeded hosts this weekend? Sure. Georgetown-Princeton is a tossup game, and so is North Carolina-Navy. And it’s certainly conceivable that Albany (against Loyola) and Maryland (against UMBC) could struggle in varying degrees.

But as for that truly eye-opening result — a Duke, Virginia, Johns Hopkins or Cornell falling in the first weekend — don’t count on it. Parity where it really matters — at the very top — hasn’t arrived just yet. It would still be incredibly unexpected if at least three of those teams aren’t at Baltimore’s M&T; Bank Stadium on Memorial Day weekend.

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