CBS Sports Network analyst Evan Washburn was the color analyst for No. 1 Loyola’s 13-10 win against No. 6 Johns Hopkins on Saturday. The former Delaware defenseman, who can be followed on Twitter via his account @EvanWashburn, took a spin through the 18-team field of the NCAA tournament. He talked about the debate between Hofstra and Harvard for the final at-large spot, the most exciting first-round game, and the team with the toughest road to the Final Four.
Were there any surprises in the bracket?
I guess the one surprise was Penn wins the Ivy and leaves Hofstra and Harvard battling it out, and I had Hofstra in there. Maybe it goes back to my CAA roots, but I thought that when I saw them against top-tier teams, I thought they looked like a team that could maybe make a little bit of a run. I know the bad losses to Marquette and St. John’s probably kept them out, but I had Hofstra in there. Beyond that, I thought it was pretty clear going into the weekend how things would shake out. Being how the ACC was over the course of the season, they beat up on each other, but nobody sort of fell apart. They all traded punches and at the end of the season, they all had worthy resumes to get in.
Was the seeding fair?
I would have had Loyola as a 2 seed, Syracuse as a 1 and Duke as a 3. I don’t think Penn – while I’ve seen them play in person earlier in the year and thought, ‘Wow, they’ve got some potential,’ – I think they’re a seeded team, but I don’t think they’re a 4 seed. Maybe put Denver at 4 and Penn at 5.
Which first-round game is the most exciting?
The lacrosse purists of us all will look at that Virginia-Hopkins game, and I’m in that group because I just saw Loyola-Hopkins, and I didn’t think they look their best. That’s one that I think is tough for Virginia because Hopkins isn’t going to go in there intimidated at all by the stage, the stadium, the team, the jersey. And then Denver-North Carolina. Carolina arguably deserves to be a top eight seed. I think those two where as a seeded team, I would be a bit concerned.
Which seeded team has the toughest road to the Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on May 24?
To me, it could be Loyola. I think they’re going to do just fine against Albany. I think Albany and the Thompsons are fantastic and they are so fun to watch. But against top-tier defenses, all you need to do is watch them in the Hopkins game. They’re an entirely different team. The America East is a fine conference, but it doesn’t have the quality of defense that they’ll see against Loyola. But that’s still a challenge for a team that has lost just one game all year. So Loyola has to sort of get through the headache that is Albany and their offense, and then they could face Notre Dame and Notre Dame is a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde team. You’re not sure what you’re going to get, but you’re going to get an extremely disciplined team. So I think Loyola has a little bit of a tough run. And there’s Maryland and Syracuse. When you’ve got Maryland, Syracuse and Cornell all in one portion, I’m still sort of figuring out who walks out of there.
Which seeded team has the easiest path to the Final Four?
I think Duke’s going to the Final Four for the eighth time. I think they’ll take care of Richmond or Air Force, and I think Duke can handle Virginia or Hopkins. I wouldn’t say easily, but I wouldn’t have any problem saying that Duke is a Final Four team. I actually picked them to be the national champion a long time ago. It’s hard to repeat, but they have all the pieces you need.
If Albany junior attackman Lyle Thompson breaks the NCAA single-season season record for points but the Great Danes don’t get out of the first round, will that impact his resume to win the Tewaaraton Award?
If they were to lose to Loyola and he were to break the record, I think he is your Tewaaraton winner. I think what can affect that is the run that somebody else makes. It’s much like the Heisman in the sense that if [Duke senior attackman] Jordan Wolf goes on an epic run, that’s where he could maybe lose the award. But if he breaks the record and they were to lose to Loyola on Saturday, I think at that moment, he’s your winner. I think it’s what happens in the following weeks that would affect his ability to walk away with it.