At the ACC basketball preseason media day, the conference handed out notebooks with the following tagline: "The best get better."*
The league should have saved that slogan for lacrosse.
All six ACC lacrosse teams made the 18-team field for the NCAA lacrosse tournament, which was announced Sunday at 9 p.m. (in fact, all six teams will be part of the 16-team field that is set once the two play-in games are settled). Duke, the defending national champion, is the No. 1 overall seed. Syracuse, which beat the Blue Devils in the ACC tournament semifinals, is the No. 2.
Neither of those teams won the ACC Tournament—that honor went to Notre Dame, the No. 6 seed. Maryland (No. 7), Virginia (No. 8) and UNC round out the ACC representation in the field. The league earned five of the eight available at-large spots.
The Blue Devils (13-3) host the winner of the Air Force vs. Richmond play-in game Sunday at 5:15 p.m. (ESPNU). Duke would have preferred a Saturday game—Sunday is graduation at Duke—but certainly won’t complain with how the bracket broke.
With six ACC teams in the 16-team field, conference match-ups in the quarterfinal round are all-but-inevitable. Should Duke win its first game, the winner of Virginia-Johns Hopkins awaits. The Cavaliers are definitely preferable opponent over Syracuse, Maryland and UNC. The Blue Devils won the regular season meeting in Charlottesville 17-15 on April 11. The two teams spilt their two NCAA Tournament meetings—Virginia eliminated Duke in the 2000 quarterfinals and the Blue Devils beat the Cavaliers in the 2010 semifinals, en route to their first national championship.
North Carolina is the only other ACC team the Blue Devils could face before the championship game (Duke is 4-0 all-time versus the Tar Heels in the NCAA tournament). No. 3 Loyola (Md.), the only team besides Maryland and Syracuse to beat Duke this season, is another potential championship game opponent. The Blue Devils are 7-for-7 in final four appearances under John Danowski.
If you’re looking for some Duke lacrosse reading, here’s a profile on Jordan Wolf, the ACC offensive player of the year. Going back further in the archives, last year’s NCAA run featured profiles on face-off specialist Brendan Fowler (the eventual Most Outstanding Player of the 2013 Final Four is a senior this year) and defenseman Casey Carroll, who has started 15 of 16 games this season, his sixth year of eligibility after serving five years in the United States Army.
*Am I the only one who thinks it should be "The best gets better?" Like the best (conference) gets better?