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Maryland men’s lacrosse focused on first round before worrying about NCAA quarterfinal

In his look at the NCAA tournament bracket unveiled Sunday night, ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra said the possible quarterfinal game between top-seeded Maryland and either No. 8 seed Albany or reigning 2016 national champion North Carolina is "definitely the toughest pod to look at and try to make predictions."

As difficult as that game would be for the Terps (12-3), coach John Tillman took the selection committee's positioning in stride.

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"There just aren't any easy games," he said Tuesday morning. "I think you can just look at the first round, and nothing is easy, and that's the way we looked at it. As things fell into place here and you started seeing who was going to win their conference championships, there used to be – maybe 10 years ago – a little bit of a gap between the [automatic qualifiers] and maybe some of the at-larges. I just don't think that's the case anymore. [No. 2 seed] Syracuse is playing the Ivy champ [Yale] and a team that a lot of people had in the top 10 last season. Certainly we're staring down the winner of a game where one is ranked second in defense [Monmouth] and the other one is sixth [Bryant]. So you're kind of looking and saying, 'All of the games are going to be tough.' There's no easy way through this thing, and that's the way we approached it."

The larger concern for Tillman is which opponent his team will face in the first round Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in College Park. The winner of the play-in game between Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament titlist Monmouth (14-3) and Northeast Conference tournament champion Bryant (10-7) will not be determined until Wednesday night, which throws a little bit of a wrench in Maryland's planning.

Tillman said the coaching staff plans to concentrate on making internal corrections while also providing the players with some general thoughts on Monmouth and Bryant, especially any shared patterns or trends. Because of the shortened amount of prep time, Tillman said the Terps are treating this week as if they are playing a midweek game.

"We've kind of looked at it as a midweek game knowing that we've only got Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and Saturday is our first day of exams," he said. "So we talked about how, 'We've got to be focused. We're going to be efficient with your time, but when you're here, we need you to be here.' And we can't be fat cats. We've got to be dialed in and ready. There can't be a letdown. We've got to be excited and ready. Any team that makes the NCAA tournament and wins its conference is going to be a dangerous team."

Twitter: @edwardleesun

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