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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Top three seeds solidified; rest of bracket up for grabs

By Quint Kessenich

Another week has gone by and another team -- Colgate -- has written its name into the NCAA tournament field. The other 14 spots are still up for grabs, with the GWLL, America East, Colonial and MAAC tournaments being played this weekend, plus the Ivy League title yet to be decided.

The official word comes down on Sunday, but here's how I see the bracket:

Quarterfinal location: Ithaca, N.Y.
1. Duke vs. Loyola
8. UMBC vs. Georgetown

Quarterfinal location: Annapolis, Md.
5. Johns Hopkins vs. Princeton
4. North Carolina vs. Colgate

Quarterfinal location: Annapolis, Md.
3. Virginia vs. Drexel
6. Maryland vs. Notre Dame

Quarterfinal location: Ithaca, N.Y.
7. Cornell vs. Army
2. Syracuse vs. MAAC winner

Why teams are where they are: Seeds 1 through 3 are no-brainers: Duke, Syracuse and Virginia. The fourth seed, however, is very tricky. I think you have to consider North Carolina, Hopkins and Maryland in that spot. Right now, I think North Carolina gets it because of its superior strength of schedule.

Another seed that will be hotly debated is the No. 8 seed, which will carry with it the final home-field advantage. The teams that could challenge for that spot are Cornell, UMBC, Georgetown and Notre Dame. Of those, Georgetown and Notre Dame have the longest odds, for the same reason UNC will probably get the nod at No. 4: strength of schedule.

The MAAC tournament champion likely will be saddled with the chore of facing either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, depending on geography, because the first round is limited to just two flights of more than 300 miles -- which I think is ridiculous considering how much this event grosses.

The rest of the bottom bracket will sort itself out depending on how conference tournament and final regular-season games play out. Right now, Loyola is the lowest-rated team remaining; the Greyhounds should play at Duke or Virginia in the first round.

The Drexel/Hofstra/Delaware winner most likely will be sent to Virginia or North Carolina (although Hofstra could be shipped up north to Syracuse). Colgate is also a candidate to head to the Dome, which would give it back-to-back weeks against the Orange -- although I think the Red Raiders will fly south.

Teams on the bubble: Ohio State, Army, Navy, Hofstra

Teams on the outer bubble: Denver, Drexel, Bucknell, Princeton, Brown

The quarterfinals will be intriguing because so many southern teams could be headed north to Ithaca.

Remember again, this is one person's projection of a bracket that won't be made official until Sunday evening, when the brackets are released live on on ESPNU at 9 p.m. ET.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at