Most figured it would be Wake Forest, the defending national champion and No. 1 seed.
But the more logical choice should have been the ACC champion, Maryland.
Two days after the Demon Deacons were upset by North Carolina, 1-0, Maryland beat the Tar Heels by the same score to finish the year with both the NCAA and ACC titles and 18 wins in a row.
On the eve of the Men's College Cup, North Carolina coach Elmer Bolowich was asked about the Wake Forest attack that had scored 12 goals in its last two games.
"I hope they've run out of scoring!" Bolowich joked.
Little did he know, his wish came true.
Carolina outplayed Wake in the first half, got a well-taken goal from Brian Shriver and then hung on when the Deacons finally woke up in the second half.
Wake peppered the UNC goal with 15 shots in the second half. Marcus Tracy hit the crossbar in the 87th minute on one of several wild sequences in front of Brooks Heggarty's goal.
"We've come up short on two of our goals," coach Jay Vidovich said. "One was to win the ACC Tournament, and one was to win the national championship. But to call the season a disappointment after the performance of these guys -- I think they set a new standard in college soccer. So would I call it a disappointment? No. We came short on two of our goals, but they were pretty lofty ambitions, to chase those."
While most figured Tracy or Cody Arnoux or Sam Cronin or one of the other Wake attackers would be the star of the weekend, Graham Zusi stole the show with winning goals in Maryland's two 1-0 wins -- a golden goal on a 26-yard free kick against St. John's and the lone goal in the final, a shot from the top of the box on a rebound of a deflected shot by teammate Jeremy Hall.
Zusi and defender A.J. Delagarza were the only Terps to have also played in its 2005 Men's College Cup victory over New Mexico. (Two other freshmen from the 2005 team -- Chris Seitz and Robbie Rogers -- later turned pro.)
While Wake ranked No. 1 from the beginning to the end of the season, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said the Terrapins wanted to the last team standing.
"Our motto was from the Home Depot Center to Pizza Hut Park," he said of the season that began with a 2-1 comeback win over UCLA and ended at the College Cup, played before sparse crowds at the home of FC Dallas.
"All championship teams have different personalities," Cirovski said. "The 2005 team was special and this one is special. But just like your children, you love them both."
Zusi was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the tournament, while junior Omar Gonzalez was named Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Delagarza, defender Rich Costanzo and forward Jason Herrick were named to the all-tournament team.
Dec. 14 in Frisco, Texas
Maryland 1 North Carolina 0. Goal: Zusi (Hall) 67.
North Carolina -- Haggerty, Loyd, Graye, Williams, Adeleye, Callahan, Lewis, Brown, Ababio, Schuler, Shriver. Subs: King, Rodriguez, Urso, McCarty.
Maryland -- MacMath, Gonzalez, Costanzo, Delagarza, Wallace, Rodkey, Zusi, Marchiano, Hall, Townsend, Herrick. Subs: Kassel, Yates, Tangney.
Referee: Alex Prus.
Shots: North Carolina 14, Maryland 10.
Corner kicks: North Carolina 6, Maryland 6.
Dec. 12 in Frisco, Texas
Maryland 1 St. John's 0 (OT). Goal: Zusi 105.
Maryland -- MacMath, Gonzalez, Costanzo, Delagarza, Wallace, Rodkey, Zusi, Marchiano, Hall, Townsend, Herrick. Subs: Flatley, Kassel, Yates, Swaim, Forbess.
St. John's -- Kitson, Clack, Reed, Lade, Gustafsson, Wegge Gundhus, Terra, Quinn, Becerra, Chiduku, Soroka. Subs: Hoffer, Gonzalez, Punyed, Habib, Vazquez, Ivo, Hines.
Referee: Misail Tsapos.
Shots: Maryland 19, St. John's 3.
Corner kicks: Maryland 7, St. John's 1.
Dec. 12 in Frisco, Texas
North Carolina 1 Wake Forest 0. Goal: Shriver (Loyd) 4.
North Carolina -- Haggerty, Loyd, Graye, Williams, Adeleye, Callahan, Lewis, Brown, Ababio, Schuler, Shriver. Subs: Urso, McCarty.
Wake Forest -- Fitzgerald, Adams, Brown, Wenzel, Opara, Cronin, Franks, Bone, Lahoud, Tracy, Arnoux. Subs: da Luz, Schilawski.
Referee: Chico Grajeda.
Att.: 6,134 .
Shots: Wake Forest 20, North Carolina 9.
Corner kicks: Wake Forest 6, North Carolina 4.