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Monday, April 26, 2010
ACC tourney win boosts Virginia

By Quint Kessenich
Inside Lacrosse

The four power teams of the ACC and Syracuse have created massive separation with the rest of the country. It was an unpredictable week in the Ivy League, with Harvard beating Princeton and Brown taking care of Cornell.

Two weeks remain in the regular season and the landscape has never been more convoluted and complicated. I'm more confused right now than I was a week ago. We'll get a dosage of clarity Monday when the NCAA is releases its RPI data, which is an essential component for at-large selection. My guess is that if Cuse wins out it will be the No. 2 seed in the tourney behind the ACC champion.

1. Virginia Virginia
The Hoos took the ACC tournament championship by beating Duke on Friday and Maryland 10-6 on Sunday.They'll be the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and host a first-round game at Klockner Stadium.

2. Syracuse Syracuse
I'm expecting that if Cuse wins out it will be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the tourney behind the ACC champion and maybe even Maryland because of RPI and SOS. The Oragne have won nine straight games since March 7 and have only surrendered double digit games twice. Chris Daniello has 44 points, Cody Jamieson and Stephen Keough have combined for 47 goals and SU has outscored its opponents 41-13 in the first quarter.

3. Maryland Maryland
The Terps played a marvelous game Friday night, dominating North Carolina in a 13-5 victory but came up short on Sunday afternoon, playing without Will Yeatman, against the Cavaliers.

4. North Carolina UNC
The Heels need a break after being put through the ringer over the past month. Carolina's defense (Ryan Flanagan, Mike Jarvis and Charlie McComas) is holding teams to less than 30 shots and eight goals per game, but gave up 14 to Robert Morris and 13 to Maryland. Attackman Billy Bitter has 39 points but was shut down in the ACC semifinal by the Terps.

5. Duke Duke
Right now, the Blue Devils may be the third best team in the nation but they are a likely to be the fifth seed in the NCAA tournament. Their extra man offense is clicking at 51 percent. Max Quinzani has 49 goals on 49 percent shooting. Tewaaraton nominee Ned Crotty has 43 assists and coach John Danowski has utilized him in different ways lately, which has added a spark to the offense. The Blue Devils will go as far as their midfielders take them.

6. Loyola Loyola (Md.)
The Greyhounds travel to Denver on Sunday and face the Pioneers for the ECAC automatic qualifier in Invesco Stadium. The Greyhounds appear to have locked up an at-large bid with their overall résumé, but a win over Denver and then Hopkins on May 8 will secure a home-field playoff game in round one.

7. Stony Brook Stony Brook
With unpredictable results in the CAA and Ivy League, Stony Brook moves up the rankings by default, but wins over Siena, Towson and Delaware do not make it a lock without the AQ. The Seawolves are a high scoring bunch lead by Jordan McBride (44 goals on 59 percent shooting), Kevin Crowley (32, 21) and Tom Compitello (23, 26).

8. Princeton Princeton
The Tigers dropped a league game to Harvard on Saturday. They are clinging to wins over Hofstra, Hopkins and Brown as at-large ammunition -- I'm expecting the Tigers to have strong RPI numbers because of nonconference tilts with UNC and Syracuse. A Princeton win over Cornell on Saturday (ESPNU, 5 p.m. ET) would wrap up the regular-season Ivy championship and mean that the Tigers would host the inaugural Ivy League tournament the following week.

9. Towson Towson
The Tigers have five losses to exceptional competition and have rattled off five consecutive wins by a total of eight goals. Coach Tony Seaman has done a terrific job with this gritty group. He'll be one of my guests on the ESPNU Lacrosse Podcast this week. Tony's Tigers play Hopkins on Wednesday night (ESPNU, 7 p.m. ET) and then at Hofstra on Saturday, followed by the CAA tournament.

10. UMass UMass
The Minutemen played hard for the full 60 minutes against Georgetown on Saturday in the inaugural ESPNU Warrior Classic in East Hartford, Conn. Coach Greg Cannella made some changes to his attack after dropping consecutive games to Towson and Delaware. Freshman Will Manny ranks in my top five freshman nationally and he chipped in five points in the win.

11. Georgetown Georgetown
The Hoyas' loss to UMass hurts. Senior midfielder Andrew Brancaccio put on a shooting clinic and Craig Dowd had four helpers, but the Hoyas unraveled in the last six minutes and let UMass end the game with three straight goals. Georgetown will have strong SOS and RPI numbers, but a lone win of merit against Notre Dame. G-Town finishes up against Rutgers and then at Villanova.

12. Villanova Villanova
The Wildcats' loss to Lehigh last week stings. They have wins over Fairfield, Delaware, Drexel and Notre Dame in their back pocket. If they beat Georgetown on May 8th it'll be tough to keep them out of the big dance.

13. Drexel Drexel
The Dragons have lost back-to-back games against Towson and Delaware and appear to be running out of gas. Early season wins over Notre Dame and Hofstra will be key, and so would a victory this week over UMass and a strong showing in the CAA tournament.

14. Cornell Cornell
Cornell has beaten Army, Yale and Harvard -- and is clearly on the NCAA tournament bubble. Sophomore attackman Rob Pannell has been generating exceptional production right in the face of teams whose one aim is to shut him down. Cornell's lack of scoring from the midfield has been a season-long storyline.

15. Hofstra Hofstra
The Pride will not be playing in the CAA tournament, even if they beat Towson this week. Has a team who failed to qualify for their own league tournament ever received and at-large bid for the NCAA's? Pride has beaten Hopkins, Army, Delaware and Brown.

16. Notre Dame Notre Dame
The Irish host Syracuse on Saturday in a sold-out game that'll be televised on ESPNU. The Irish own wins over Duke, Denver and Loyola which may gain them entry into the NCAA tournament, but their losses to Drexel, Fairfield and Villanova hurt if they are sitting on the bubble with those teams.

17. Denver Denver
The Pioneers pulled one out Saturday against Fairfield, winning on a late comeback in the Warrior Classic. Mark Matthews and goalie Peter Lowell were the stars. Denver will host Loyola on Sunday at Invesco Field for the ECAC automatic qualifier. Coach Bill Tierney has done a super job with his new team; after a 1-3 start the Pioneers have won seven in a row, but need the AQ to go dancing.

18. Harvard Harvard
The Crimson have victories over UMass and Princeton. John Tillman's youngsters put it together last week in a marquee win against the Tigers. Harvard has to beat Yale this week and then get some help to qualify for the Ivy League tourney.

19. Army Army
The Cadets will host the Patriot League tournament this weekend after sweeping the regular season slate. They've won seven of their last eight games overall but have zero wins of merit outside the conference. The AQ is their only ticket into the NCAA tournament.

20. Brown Brown
The Bears have beaten Cornell, Bryant and Harvard. They host Dartmouth this week. I'm staring with glazed eyes at a full page of Ivy League tournament scenarios -- tie-breakers and what ifs.

Quint Kessenich covers lacrosse for the ESPN family of networks and welcomes your opinions at quint@insidelacrosse.com.