Unlike previous years, there was little drama or mystery this spring involving Maryland-based men's lacrosse programs in the NCAA tournament.
No. 17 Johns Hopkins and Towson were guaranteed spots in the 18-team field by virtue of capturing their respective conference tournament crowns and the accompanying automatic qualifiers. And No. 6 Maryland's qualifications were never in question.
All that was left to figure out was the teams' opponents and travel plans, which were finalized Sunday night.
The Terps (12-3) earned the No. 6 seed and will play host to Yale (11-4) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium in College Park. The Blue Jays (9-6), the Big Ten tournament champion, will travel to Charlottesville, Va., to face No. 7 seed Virginia (10-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m. And the Tigers (11-5), the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament titlist, will meet Southern Conference champion High Point (10-6) in one of two play-in games on Wednesday at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.
Notre Dame (10-2) is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Syracuse (12-2), North Carolina (12-3) and Denver (13-2).
Maryland is 3-3 as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the national semifinals in 1983. The Terps are 15-4 in the first round and have won six of their last seven first-round games.
Maryland will meet a Bulldogs team that captured the Ivy League title — the program's third in the last four years — and defeated the Terps, 10-6, on Feb. 21.
"Kind of looking at the numbers, I kind of felt like Yale could be a real strong possibility, and I thought Yale might get in whether they won the Ivy League championship or not," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "… We've played them twice in the last three years. I certainly think they're a great program and they've won three of the last four Ivy League tournaments. So they've done things very, very well there.
"They're just solid everywhere. They have a really good offense, a stingy defense. They're a team that plays very hard, they have good senior leadership, and [head coach] Andy Shay and [offensive coordinator] Graham Niemi and [defensive coordinator] Andrew Baxter do a great job with that team. We knew we'd get in and we knew we would have a tough game and certainly a super tough team."
Johns Hopkins overcame the tragic death of freshman defenseman Jeremy Huber on Jan. 26 and a stretch of five losses in seven games to close out the season with five consecutive wins, including two in the Big Ten tournament.
The Blue Jays — 1-2 in the NCAA postseason when unseeded — will face a Cavaliers squad that won a 16-15 overtime thriller at Homewood Field on March 21.
"Being in the tournament is not something that anybody should take for granted," Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said. "With everything this team has been through and the fact that everybody had us for dead and headed home, what this team has done in recent weeks is very exciting to see. It's something we're proud of, and we're playing a terrific team, a team that's already beaten us. So we have our hands full."
Towson rebounded from a two-game slide to end the regular season with victories as the No. 3 seed in the CAA postseason this past weekend against No. 2 seed Drexel and No. 4 seed Massachusetts.
Because the Tigers have one of the four lowest RPIs in the field, they are forced to participate in the play-in game. And they will face a Panthers squad that is riding a four-game winning streak and knocked off No. 2 seed Mercer and No. 1 seed Richmond in the Southern Conference tournament by one-goal margins.
Towson is 1-1 against High Point, dropping a 9-7 decision on Feb. 8, 2013 and grabbing an 11-8 victory on Feb. 8, 2014. The winner of Wednesday's contest will take on No. 1 seed Notre Dame (10-2) on Saturday at 5 p.m.
"We had a feeling with the way the RPIs shaping up that we would have a play-in game, and with the way the play-in games are structured geographically, we kind of figured out who our opponent was," said Towson coach Shawn Nadelen, whose Tigers are 3-6 in the NCAA tournament as an unseeded team. "So I think our guys and everybody knew ahead of time where we were going to be. To see the committee put us there just solidified it. So we're excited about the opportunity. We're excited to have a home NCAA game at Johnny Unitas Stadium and for High Point to come up there. They're definitely a formidable opponent, and we played them in 2013 and 2014. They're a dangerous team. So we've got to put everything we have against them."