Nike/LM Division I Men's Top 20: Fitting End to Nutty Season
Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Rankings
The final Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Division I Men's Top 20 of the season is, of course, topped by Carolina blue.
The Tar Heels, previously ranked ninth in the last Nike/LM rankings of May 9, went on an incredible NCAA tournament run, beating sixth-seeded Marquette, third-seeded Notre Dame in the quarterfinals and seventh-seeded Loyola in the semifinals before winning an overtime classic against No. 1 Maryland on Monday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
In the end, the Tar Heels, which hadn't won more than two games in a row until the NCAA tournament, became the first team to win a Division I men's crown with six losses. The next team with at least six losses in the Nike/LM Top 20 is Duke, which comes in at No. 13.
A fitting end to a topsy-turvy season.
Also considered (alphabetical order): Bucknell, Hartford, Hobart
North Carolina (+8): The definition of peaking at the right time, North Carolina went on an emotional-filled run through the NCAA tournament in qhich its offense at times looked unstoppable. The Heels shot 50 percent against Maryland in the title game.
Loyola (+8): The Greyhounds were a bit of a surprise final four team, but the draw opened up for them when Towson knocked off second-seeded Denver in the first round. Attackman Pat Spencer smashed Loyola single-season recirds as a freshman and is part of what appears to be a great foundation for the program for the next couple years.
Duke (-6): The Blue Devils has the top strength of schedule in the country on Selection Sunday, but if you are what your record says you are, and Duke finished 11-8 with a loss to Loyola in the NCAA tournament first round, losing in that round for the second straight season.
Denver (-5): The Pioneers, who had been ranked at or near the top of this list all season long, saw their season come to an uprupt end at home in a first round loss to Towson. But this Pioneers' roster is loaded with talent, and when he was at Princeton, it took more than one try for Bill Tierney's Tigers to repeat as NCAA champs as well.
Quinnipiac (20): The Bobcats won the MAAC tournament title when beat surprise America East champion Hartford in the NCAA tournament play-in game, which pitted them against top-seeded Maryland.
Hartford (19): The Hawks shocked Albany in the America East semifinals and won the conference crown, but couldn't carry the momentum quite far enough to get them in the NCAA tournament.
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