NCAA Tournament Favorites (And Not So Favorites)
Loyola University, with its undergraduate student body of 4,000 on a cozy campus in northern Baltimore City and only one previous trip to the NCAA tournament title game in its Division I history, threw down a strong statement for ever-growing parity in the sport. Cheers to the 18-1 Greyhounds for winning their first championship. Here are a few other notable snapshots from the postseason.
Best Player Not Named Eric Lusby: Loyola SSM Josh Hawkins bullied midfielders from Notre Dame and Maryland relentlessly with his closing speed and hard checks. Think of former Hopkins great Benson Erwin -- not quite as big but more athletic.
Best Game of the Tournament: Maryland's 10-9, come-from-behind, first-round win over Lehigh was riveting, right down to Joe Cummings' game-winning dodge and score in the final seconds.
Biggest Flop: Tough call. Third-seeded Duke didn't seem interested in its sixth consecutive final four appearance, as its interior defense got shredded by Maryland, 16-10 in the semifinals. But this one goes to no. 2 seed Hopkins, for showing up with no fire in its 11-5 loss to Maryland in the quarters. Blue Jays have lost two straight in the second round by a combined score of 25-14.
Most Memorable Exit: Steele Stanwick, UVA's all-time leading scorer, went out with guns blazing in the quarters against Notre Dame. Stanwick signed off with seven points, including five assists.
Still Waiting: Another year of huge expectations at Carolina, another first-round failure by the Tar Heels, who could not stop Denver in a 16-14 loss.