Seventh seeded Terps draw second round rematch with Cornell

Rob Carr

If it seems like we've been here before, we have. For the second consecutive year, the Maryland Terrapins and Cornell's Big Red will meet in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, "It's deja vu all over again," at least when it comes to the NCAA men's Lacrosse Tournament. In 2013, Maryland finished the regular season 10-3 losing two of their last four games including an ACC semifinals loss to Virginia before being seeded sixth to play host to Cornell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, Maryland finished the regular season 11-3 losing two of their last four games including an ACC semifinals loss to Notre Dame before being seeded seventh to play host to Cornell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The result was, shall we say, not a good one for Terrapins fans.

Just as Maryland's 2014 season had a similar arc to their 2013 slate, Cornell's 2014 season mirrored their 2013 season in many ways. However, Terps fans can hope that the similarities end there. the 2014 version of the Big Red lacks Rob Pannell and Steve Mock who each scored four goals in that game. So that can be nothing but good news for the Maryland faithful - at least for that first second round game.

Interestingly, the Tournament seedings reflect neither the RPI nor LaxPower's TSI (Tournament Selection Index) ratings. The Terps are ninth in RPI and fifth in TSI so perhaps the committee averaged the two. It appears to me that the committee undervalued Maryland's regular season ACC Title not only by seeding three ACC teams above the Terps but by throwing the Big Red as the first opponent in Maryland's path. At eight, Cornell's RPI is higher than Maryland's and had the committee chose to pair the Terps with the natural opponent for the fifth seed (TSI), the match-up would be the Harvard Crimson.

On the other hand, prior to the selection show, people more knowledgeable than I projected Maryland's seeding between fourth and seventh so the committee did place the Terps within that range albeit at the bottom. Had they been seeded at the top of the span and all other placements remained otherwise unchanged, Maryland's first opponent would have been the 12-4 Drexel Dragons (RPI 11). A fifth seed would have paired them with North Carolina and as the sixth seed they would have faced Harvard (10-6; 16 RPI). It's the quarterfinal match-up where the seeds become more telling.

If the seeds hold, Maryland's quarterfinal opponent will be the Syracuse Orange. The Terps handled the Orange rather easily in a game at the Carrier Dome in late February. Maryland peppered two Syracuse goalies with 55 shots and held devastating edges in ground balls (36-17) and faceoffs (19-8) en route to a 16-8 win. However, since a 21-7 loss at Duke, the Orange have come on to win seven of their last eight games with the 15-14 loss to Notre Dame in the ACC title game the only blemish in that stretch.

In an interesting twist, after their ACC Tournament loss in 2013 Maryland returned home and routed Colgate by a 16-8 final score. In 2014, following their loss in the ACC Tournament, Syracuse returned home and routed Colgate by  an even more lopsided 19-6 final. But all of this is putting the proverbial cart out front. Maryland's first order of business will be getting past Cornell. For the Terps, the road starts Saturday.

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