- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

With eight days remaining in the lacrosse regular season, there finally is some clarity for the NCAA tournament. After this weekend's games, most of the 12 teams will know their postseason fate. Here is a look at the probables for the playoffs:

In the tournament

Fairfield The Stags won the Great Western Lacrosse League title last week at Notre Dame to take the conference's automatic berth. League coaches agreed to decline another bid if tournament officials decide to follow the rule book strictly the NCAA says one team from the western part of the United States must go to the postseason, and Fairfield is in Connecticut. Nevertheless, Fairfield will be the only team in the tournament from the GWLL, which sent Notre Dame to the final four last year.

Massachusetts The Minutemen knocked Georgetown off the East Coast Athletic Conference's top perch last week. UMass advances to the tournament as an automatic qualifier after being snubbed for an at-large bid last season. This is the first year Georgetown has not won the ECAC.

No worries

Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Syracuse This trio has battled all year for the poll's top spot, with each spending time at No.1. They have been the class of college lacrosse and should take three of the four top seeds in the postseason.

Georgetown After beating No.10 Loyola 15-6 Wednesday in Baltimore, the Hoyas won their third big non-conference game of the year to practically lock up the fourth of six at-large bids. Georgetown already had victories at No.5 Duke and against No.7 Cornell at a neutral site. If Georgetown takes care of business today at Rutgers, it won't have to worry about beating No.2 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome to close the season next Saturday. The Hoyas, though, could cement a top-four seed and a bye if they win out.

In good shape

With only two at-large bids remaining, Duke and Cornell can take those spots if they win out. Both teams have top-five wins, and Duke's ACC tournament championship helps the Blue Devils tremendously. Last night's game between Duke and Hofstra is a play-out game, and Cornell cannot afford a slip at home against Brown or at Hobart to end the season.

Need help

Maryland, Hofstra, Yale, Loyola On the outside, probably in that order. Maryland has to beat Yale, which has beaten Princeton and UMass, and then wait. Its best wins are Towson and North Carolina, and it has four top-five losses all by one point, three in overtime. The tough-luck Terps need Cornell, Princeton or Duke to lose.

Automatic qualifier favorites

Princeton has the Ivy League in hand if it wins out. The Tigers won't get an at-large bid, so they will have to win at Dartmouth and at Brown to close the season. Lesser teams Army (Patriot League), Hartford (America East), and Manhattan (MAAC) are the front-runners to grab the final four automatic bids.

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