Men’s Lacrosse: NCAA Tournament hopes come down to Saturday’s games for local foursome

April 30, 2009 |

The UMBC Retrievers, Towson Tigers, Loyola Greyhounds, and Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse teams will all be taking the field with their NCAA Tournament hopes at stake on the regular season’s last day.

Needless to say, Saturday couldn’t come soon enough for Baltimore’s college lacrosse fans.

The good news for UMBC, Towson, and Loyola is that they directly hold their destiny in their own hands, whereas for the Terps, they may need some help to find their place in the postseason 16-team field.

#11 UMBC needed two-overtimes to knockout Binghamton 8-7 in the America East Conference Tournament semi-finals last night.  They’ll now take on the second-seeded Stony Brook Seawolves Saturday in Catonsville at 7:30pm for an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.  At 11-3 overall you would think they’re safe either way, but the America East has been very weak this year and the selection committee could view it as a one-bid league, even if an upset were to take place.

In a big surprise, Towson will host Vilanova for the Colonial Athletic Association Championship on Saturday night at 7:30 at Unitas Stadium.  Up for grabs is the conference’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Towson, the #2 seed, will play for the title at home on the heels of their 10-2 victory over Drexel and after top-seeded Hofstra was shocked by ‘Nova in last night’s semi-finals.

Towson getting to play host on Saturday is hardly the only notable result of Hofstra’s loss.

Hofstra entered the CAA Tournament a big favorite to win and play in the NCAA Tournament as the conference’s lone representative.  Now the Pride, ranked #9 nationally, will almost surely grab an at-large bid with the AQ going to Towson or Villanova; neither of which was a previous consideration with 6-9 and 6-8 records respectively.

So the question is, who does the CAA winner bump out?

That team could very well be Loyola, who stand at 9-4 going into the Charles Street Showdown against Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field Saturday at 1pm.  The game can be heard right here on WNST on AM 1570 or at wnst.net or be seen on TV on ESPNU or WMAR.

The Greyhounds can cement their place with either one of two situations playing out.

A UMass loss at Rutgers this Saturday would give Loyola the outright ECAC Championship and the AQ that comes along with it.  Otherwise it’s plain and simple, cut and dry: beat Hop and they’re in.  The Strength of Schedule bump would be a nice helper and a marquee notch on their belt would serve as the last thing they need on their resume for inclusion.

Going for them, Coach Charlie Toomey’s squad owns a valuable RPI Rating of #9, and the fact that their only losses have come by one goal to #1 Syracuse and to #2 Notre Dame, and two goals at #3 Duke and to #15 UMass.  That said, Loyola doesn’t have any major wins to speak of that other team’s fighting for the tourney’s last spot possess, thus magnifying the importance of potentially knocking off the Blue Jays.

One of those bubble teams that have a couple quality to wins is the University of Maryland.  The Terps will be up north in New Haven, Connecticut to take on Yale in their regular season finale.  While a victory over the Bulldogs is 100% necessary, it will not be a win that puts them over-the-top by any means.  They had their chance to play themselves in without any doubt last weekend in the ACC Tournament, but a 16-10 semi-final loss to North Carolina did way more bad than good for Coach Dave Cottle’s bunch.  They’ll have to hope that wins over Duke and Carolina in late-February and mid-March will be enough.  I’m not so sure it will be.

As for #8 Johns Hopkins they’re all but assured an at-large selection regardless of their performance against Loyola.  Though, a loss might move them to the unseeded half of the tournament draw and force Coach Pietramala’s club to go on the road in the first round.  Expect them to be pedal to the metal against the Greyhounds to get that first-round home game and momentum they need headed towards an expected run at the Final Four in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will take place Sunday night at 9pm on ESPNU.

It should be very exciting, we know Baltimore will be watching!

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