#1 Maryland VS. Play-In Winner, Sunday @ 2:30 pm (ESPNU)
Maryland’s resume is rock solid. They’ve played six games against top-10 teams and ten games against top-20 teams and finished 8-2 in those contests. No team is more battle-tested and no team is as dangerous as Maryland. They earned this #1 seed and they earned their match-up, facing the winner of the play in game. Bryant’s claim to fame is a win over Yale, and a win over Hobart in the NEC championship game. Monmouth’s best win is against un-ranked Villanova and beyond that, they haven’t played anyone else in the tournament field…
Maryland by 7 goals or more.
#2 Syracuse VS. Yale, Sunday @ 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
Like Maryland, Syracuse has survived a schedule that included seven top-20 foes seeing a 5-2 record in those jaunts and going 4-1 against top-10 teams, every game won or lost by a single goal. Sadly for “Cardiac Cuse”, Yale is a tough, tough draw. They played Maryland to the end in a one-goal loss, on the road. They hung with Albany for a full game, losing by a goal, on the road. And they also lost to UMass (not so good). But they beat St. John’s 23-7, where even Cuse only topped the Red Storm 9-8, but that was the norm for the Orange. Moral of the story, this is a brutal match-up and the Orange are going to need Ben Williams at his best all day in order to pull this one out…
Syracuse by …….. wait for it………wait for it…….. 1 goal in a game that is sure to have all Cuse fans shitting their pants multiple times before it reaches its end.
#3 Ohio State VS. Loyola, Sunday @ 5 pm (ESPNU)
After beating Denver, Ohio State dropped games to Notre Dame and Penn State, both ugly. Then they went 3-2 against ranked teams down the stretch with two wins over Hopkins and a win over Maryland. But they face a Loyola team that has faced some of the best in the country and owners of two wins over Army in the month of April, both by convincing margins. They have a couple of bad losses, but when playing well, Loyola is a team to worry over. But on Sunday…
Ohio State by 2 goals.
#4 Notre Dame VS. Marquette, Sunday @ Noon (ESPNU)
Notre Dame is another team that has made it through battle after battle. They’ve gone 5-5 against ranked teams. Marquette on the other hand is 2-4 against ranked teams, with a wins over Air Force and Denver. After starting out the season 5-2, Marquette has gone 3-5 over their final eight games. I don’t like how they match up against ND, so I think we’ll see them hang early, but in the end….
Notre Dame by 4 goals. I see ND going up early, and holding off a couple of second half Marquette runs.
#5 Denver VS. Air Force, Saturday @ 5 pm (ESPNU)
Denver only dropped three games all season, all at the hands of ranked foes. But the three goal loss to Marquette, after an eight goal win less than a week prior has me wondering where Denver is at. They have some convincing wins over Air Force (by 8), Duke (by 5) and Marquette (by 8), all three are ranked teams. But on the flip side, losses to ranked UNC (by 4), Ohio State (by 9) and recently Marquette (by 3) shows they are vulnerable depending on the day, and the match-up. With all of that said, one of those teams they matched up well against was Air Force, owning them in an 8-goal win. So…
Denver by 4 goals. Air Force will be better prepared, but won’t equal Marquette’s total reversal of fortune. Denver goes up early, maybe by as much as seven goals, and will hold Air Force at bay enough to squeak out a four goal win.
#6 Johns Hopkins VS. Duke, Saturday @ 2:30 pm (ESPNU)
This game has potential written all over it. Potentially one of the best first-round matchups. But I also see a bit of potential for one of these two teams to beat up on the other. I’d lean towards Duke as being the hotter team, but they tend to have a harder time with traditionally tough, physical teams. Hopkins has whooped a couple of ranked teams and they’ve been whooped by a couple of ranked teams. I think this will be a game of runs, with Duke making the final run…
Duke in OT. I don’t even know what else to say about this one because no one knows what’s going to happen.
#7 Penn State VS. Towson, Saturday @ Noon
Towson comes in looking tough on paper. They own a 13-8 win over Hopkins (one of those days Hopkins didn’t come ready to play), and own three close losses against fellow tournament teams Loyola, Ohio State and Denver. A win over Hofstra however is their only additional claim to fame, and they have a bad loss to Fairfield mixed in. I criticized Penn State hard all season for not playing anyone, but that changed as they played their final five out of 6 games against tournament teams and went 3-3 down that stretch. Penn State may have played a weak schedule early, but they won out through that stretch. They beat everyone they should have beat, including some good wins over Ohio State, Rutgers and Michigan, and they lost twice to Maryland, and once to Hopkins. Nothing to be ashamed of…
Penn State by 3 goals. I predict a quick Towson start, but Penn State will pound away at them, shore up on the defensive side of the ball and prevail as they grind through the game.
#8 Albany VS. North Carolina, Saturday @ 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
This is another game that could get crazy. Albany hosting the reigning champ in a nationally televised night game. Word is it’s already near sold out, possibly already sold out by the time I write this. But damn. To draw the Heels is brutal. No team is as hot coming in as North Carolina. Nothing lights the fire under a teams ass like do or die games, and UNC handled their business against two of the toughest teams in college lacrosse to win the ACC tournament with Wins over Syracuse and Notre Dame. Albany does not have the same resume. While their only two losses have come at the hands of Syracuse and Maryland, both by a goal, they haven’t played nearly as tough of a schedule as UNC. Wins over Yale, Harvard and Binghamton (by 12 goals in the AE finals) look good, it’s still tough to know where Albany is at. One thing is certain, this is the best Albany team we’ve ever seen in the tournament. Their defense is far better than in previous appearances, they win face-offs, and they score goals. However UNC is playing lax like an injured dog. Like a really big injured dog…
North Carolina by 2 goals. I figure both team will enjoy leads of two or three goals, but UNC will enjoy a late run, and put Albany away.