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MORNING BRIEFING: Hottest men's teams
by Paul Kennedy, November 19th, 2008 8AM



Top-ranked Wake Forest had its 25-game unbeaten streak snapped in the ACC Tournament. Loyola (Md.) lost for the first time in 28 games. But there are many other teams riding unbeaten streaks into the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament, which starts Friday with the first round.

AKRON (16 games: 13-0-3). The Zips' only loss was 1-0 at New Mexico on Sept. 12. They earned a No. 5 seed, giving them a week off -- time for star Steve Zakuani (20 goals in 21 assists) to heal his ailing ankle.

TULSA (15 games: 13-0-2). The Golden Hurricane has gone unbeaten since losing three straight to Oakland, Ohio State and George Mason in early September. Tulsa and the Conference USA in which it plays got little respect from the NCAA selectors. Tulsa didn't earn a seed; Kentucky, which it beat on PKs in the C-USA final, went unbeaten in its last 10 games and didn't get a spot in the 48-team field.

CREIGHTON (13 games: 11-0-2). The Bluejays have recorded 11 shutouts during their 13-game unbeaten streak. Missouri Valley Freshman of the Year Brian Holt's shutout streak of 722-plus minutes established a school record. Another hot freshman has been midfielder Ethan Finlay with goals in his last three games.

MARYLAND (11 games: 11-0-0). The Terrapins have the longest winning streak in the country. Their defense, led by junior Omar Gonzalez and freshmen Zac MacMath, was spectacular at the ACC Tournament, registering three shutouts in the tournament.

UC IRVINE (10 games: 8-0-2). In capturing the Big West title and earning their first NCAA Tournament bid, the Anteaters extended their winning streak to six games.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY (9 games: 8-0-1). The Terriers recovered after a terrible start (0-3-1) to capture their seventh America East title.

MICHIGAN STATE (9 games: 8-0-1). The Spartans won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles for the first time.

OAKLAND (9 games: 8-0-1). The Golden Grizzles settled for an at-large bid when they lost to UMKC on penalty kicks in the Summit League final, marking only the third time in the last quarter century a Summit (former Mid-Continent) team earned an at-large spot.

UCLA (8 games: 7-0-1). The Bruins were only 2-3-5 when they began their streak, which included shutouts in the first six games.

GEORGE MASON (7 games: 7-0-0). The Patriots came out of nowhere to win the CAA title for the first time since the conference adopted the tournament format beginning with the 1990 season. In the seven wins, Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe has scored eight goals and tallied four assists.

DARTMOUTH (5 games: 5-0-0). Though Dartmouth shared the Ivy title with Penn, the Quakers received the Ivy's automatic bid as a result of their win over the Big Green. Dartmouth, however, was the only Ivy team to be seeded (No. 16). Harvard also made the field.

FAIRFIELD (5 games: 5-0-0). The Stags' 1-0 victory over Loyola (Md.) in the MAAC final snapped the Greyhounds' 28-game unbeaten streak. Next up: Connecticut, which they upset, 2-1, in Storrs for their first NCAA Tournament win.

PENN (5 games: 4-0-1). Loukas Tasigianis' goal in the fifth minute of overtime sent the Quakers to the NCAA Tournament after a 1-0 win over Harvard. The Ivy title was their first in six years.

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