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Top-seeded Loyola, which will face Notre Dame on Saturday, opened the season unranked before unleashing a roster of pieces that effectively complement each other. The result is the Greyhounds’ first final four since 1998 and a chance for the Baltimore school to win its first national title.

Maryland never faded quite so noticeably, though last year’s surprise run to the title game as an unseeded team was the Terrapins’ first since 1998. This month, Maryland edged Lehigh and ripped Hopkins to become the first team to make back-to-back final fours as an unseeded team.

Not long ago, the remaining quartet would have stunned the sport. With three of the top four seeds and a finalist from last season still standing, perhaps the biggest surprise is not the absence of the powers from a generation ago but rather that it probably cannot be construed as much of a shock.

“I certainly think there’s a lot of parity, and you saw that this year,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “Everything’s a little different now.”