ESPN's Quint Kessenich reviews the NCAA tournament field
ESPN analyst and former Johns Hopkins All-American goalkeeper Quint Kessenich has become the face and voice most associated with lacrosse games on television. While helping me on an article about Johns Hopkins’ midfield duo of Michael Kimmel and Brian Christopher, Kessenich answered my questions about Loyola’s omission from the NCAA tournament, a dark-horse candidate for the final four and possible first-round upsets.
You’ve said in your blog on insidelacrosse.com that the selection committee got it right. Could you elaborate on why you think that?
Quint Kessenich: The only question mark is Loyola or Brown. While Loyola had a better strength of schedule, they lost every key game on their schedule. They lost a home game in conference to UMass, and that cost them the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Brown went to UMass and beat UMass. So there’s a common opponent there. Brown won two key games on the year. They beat Cornell and they beat UMass on the road, and that’s the difference. You can play the toughest schedule in the nation, but ultimately, you’ve got to win a game. Loyola lost every close game. So I have no problem with that.
Which top-four seed has the toughest road to the final four?
Kessenich: I think they’re all about equal.
Which game has the biggest potential for an upset?
Kessenich: The ACC in the last two years has suffered some home playoff losses. Last year, Carolina lost to Navy at home. Two years ago, Virginia lost to Delaware at home. So somebody in that conference at home is vulnerable. I’m thinking the Navy-Duke game or the UMBC-Carolina game could be the best games of the first round.
Is there a dark horse that could make the final four?
Kessenich: Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Maryland -- all of these programs are programs that have made the final four recently. Look at the coaching experience in this group. There are multiple coaches that have won national titles, and almost all of these programs have been to championship weekend at least once. UMass has been there, Maryland’s been there, Notre Dame’s been there, UMBC’s been close. There’s a tremendous amount of coaching experience here. So that’s why I think it’s wide open. I think there are about seven or eight teams right now that have shown that they’re good enough to win that big game.