After a second consecutive loss to Johns Hopkins put the postseason hopes of Maryland men’s lacrosse in a precarious spot, the Terps can breathe a sigh of relief. In Sunday night’s selection show, Maryland heard its name announced.
Coach John Tillman’s team will play Sunday against No. 6 seed Towson at 2:30 p.m. in Baltimore.
“We’ve got to understand, for us to win and pull off an upset, we’ve got to have that underdog mentality and have a little chip on our shoulder,” Tillman said. “Realize that they’re the favorite — we’re not — and we’ve got to go out there and execute.”
Following the loss to Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten tournament semifinal, attackman Jared Bernhardt summed up the mentality going into the weekend, saying, “All we can hope for is a selection.”
The Terps were powerless in improving their resume and could only watch as other conference tournaments altered the NCAA tournament field. When Loyola lost in the Patriot League tournament semifinals, the number of at-large spots decreased because the Greyhounds still had a season worthy of a berth in the NCAA tournament.
“The last couple games have not gone our way, and we kind of left it up to somebody else and didn’t keep it in our hands,” Tillman said. “And, listen, there’s nobody else to blame but myself for putting ourselves in that situation.”
But even with the small number of at-large bids remaining and multiple teams vying for one of those coveted spots, the committee deemed Maryland’s season to be enough for a spot in the tournament field.
The Terps had a win over Penn, the No. 3 team in the Inside Lacrosse’s RPI rankings — a metric to gauge a team’s wins, losses and strength of schedule. Cornell, the first team held out of the tournament, did not have an RPI win over an opponent rated that highly.
Maryland’s RPI was also higher than Cornell and included more wins over teams in the 11-through-30 range of the RPI rankings, showing a deeper collection of wins than the Big Red.
“I do feel like, you know, we had six wins against the final 21 RPI,” Tillman said. “So I thought that was something positive that could work for us.”
With the selection in the NCAA tournament, the Terps’ season is extended. The team narrowly avoided being the first Maryland team to miss the tournament since 2002.
“We’re only guaranteed the next seven days together,” Tillman said. “And if we want to have more than that, what we do each day in practice is going to be really important.”