Virginia won last year’s lacrosse national title without the benefit of an especially high seed.
Maryland reached the championship game despite a first-round road game.
Both programs find themselves in similar positions this spring after Sunday night’s unveiling of the NCAA tournament field.
Virginia earned the No. 5 seed and will meet Princeton in the first round at 1 p.m. at Klockner Stadium, while Maryland is unseeded for the second consecutive season and will visit Lehigh in its opener.
Loyola earned the No. 1 overall seed for the first time since 1999, while Johns Hopkins collected its 41st consecutive NCAA invitation and will be the No. 2 seed. Both teams will play home games in Baltimore next week.
Massachusetts, the lone unbeaten team remaining, was handed the No. 6 seed. The Minutemen did not face a team in the field during their 15-0 season.
Everyone, though, is prepared for a rare tournament with no true favorite after an unpredictable six weeks to wrap up the regular season.
At midseason, Virginia (11-3) was the nation’s top-ranked team and an unquestioned front-runner for a second consecutive championship. But the Cavaliers split their final six games and have dropped three straight at home for the first time since 1968.
It’s a trend Virginia will attempt to change against the Tigers (11-4), which slipped in as an at-large after losing Sunday in the Ivy League title game. The winner of that game will meet the winner of Notre Dame-Yale.
Meanwhile, Maryland (9-5) limps into the postseason coming off a loss to Colgate for the second straight year. Coach John Tillman has often said the Terrapins play better as an underdog, and their uneven play for much of the spring is befitting for a team that lost so many parts from last season.
Still, Maryland has a tricky test Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with its tournament opener at Lehigh (14-2), the Patriot League champions who will make their first NCAA tournament appearance.
Loyola (14-1), which won the ECAC tournament last week, will make its fourth appearance in the last six years but is seeded for the first time since 2001. The Greyhounds will meet Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Canisius (6-7), one of two teams in this year’s field with a losing record, on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Loyola would face the winner of Denver’s game at eighth-seeded North Carolina if it advances.
Elsewhere in Baltimore, Hopkins (11-3) enter the postseason after shrugging off a midseason malaise with two straight wins to wrap up the season. The Blue Jays will play host to America East champion Stony Brook (7-9) at 3 p.m. Sunday. The winner of that game will face the Lehigh-Maryland winner.
Few teams could make a serious case they were snubbed, though Penn State probably has the most credible gripe. The Nittany Lions (9-6) owned a top-five victory (Notre Dame) but were ultimately excluded.
—- Patrick Stevens