A raucous crowd is expected at 6,000-seat Ridley Athletic Complex on Cold Spring Lane for this high-emotion series with national implications. Loyola hasn't lost since Feb. 6 and is top-ranked but hasn't played a Top 10 team since March 9. It also have played only three games against teams in the top 20 of the Rating Percentage Index. Loyola is coming off a Patriot League title against much lesser competition. Hopkins lost three straight to Atlantic Coast Conference foes but has bounced back, winning five straight. A Loyola victory would ensure a high seed in the tournament. A loss could drop them out of the top eight, as the Hounds would have only one Top 10 win. A Blue Jays win could garner the No. 7 or No. 8 seed and a home game, giving Hopkins momentum into May Madness. A loss by Hopkins may also trigger a doomsday scenario in which it would be left out of the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year after a 41-year run. What would have to happen for the Jays to miss out again? 1. Loyola beats Hopkins 2. Denver fails to earn the Big East automatic qualifier 3. Neither Cornell nor Penn wins the Ivy AQ 4. Maryland loses to Navy It's an unlikely chain of events, but feasible. If all four happen, Hopkins would be on the bubble for the final two at-large slots with Denver, the Cornell-Penn loser and the loser of Saturday's Drexel-Hofstra game. A Terps loss to the Midshipmen would devalue Hopkins' win over Maryland. Jays fans will hope the committee values bad losses in the selection formula. Hopkins has none.
Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun