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2017 Men’s NCAA DI Tournament 1st-Round Matchups & Predictions

2017 Men’s NCAA DI Tournament 1st-Round Matchups & Predictions

#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.

What Your Kid Really Thinks Of Your “Sports Parenting”

What Your Kid Really Thinks Of Your “Sports Parenting”

Let’s be honest. You think you’re great. Walking up and down the sideline, cutting in front of other parents trying to enjoy watching a game their kid loves. You’re telling your kid to be more aggressive. Get out there and cover him, you say. Attack him, you say. All the while telling yourself that you’re just trying to help. That you’re trying to help make little Tommy, or Sally or whatever the hell you named your kid a better player.

But if we continue being honest, everything you’re yelling is the complete opposite of what the coach just told them in the huddle. The coaches want the kids to “stay home” and not over-commit. They don’t want the kids being too aggressive and making silly checks.

And since honesty has been our thing so far here, the reality is, you my friend are a huge douche nozzle.  I know it.  The lady over there trying to see around you sure as hell knows it. As do the 50 or so other fans scattered up and down the sideline, who you’ve totally disregarded as you pace up and down the sideline oblivious there are others gracing your presence.

AND I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO YOUR KID YET! Your kid is mortified. He/She won’t say anything to you, either out of fear of upsetting you or hurting your feelings because they know how much time “you” devote to their favorite sport. They know how much you’ve spent on their equipment, travel teams and so on. So they are susceptible to being quiet on the topic of you shouting at them all game long. After all, you’ve drilled it into their brain that you are just trying to help.

But they know what coach just said. EVEN WORSE, they know if they don’t appease you in some manner, your idiot mouth is going to keep running, and running, and shouting, and yelling, and generally making a fool of your idiot face.

Your poor kid is trying to focus on what is in FRONT of them, and they can’t do that while you’re constantly yelling counterproductive crap at them from the SIDE.

Your kid’s opponent asks them, is that your dad?  And your poor kid has to answer yes. Sometimes after acknowledging the psycho on the sidelines is their father (or mother) they will find a sympathetic player who has lived the same experience. But other times, your kid will face ridicule and will actually get picked on and bullied while on the field because of your moronic behavior.

What you don’t realize, is however well-intentioned you are, you are a huge hindrance to your child’s development. Their coaches are there to instruct and teach them the game while ON THE FIELD.

OFF THE FIELD, You can do all you want, but while at practice, or during a game, your job is to enjoy and encourage. To cheer and to hold up in victory or defeat. To pay close attention to every detail of the game so that if you really want to help, you can intelligently discuss and instruct POST-game. You can discuss what your kid did well, you can ask them what they think they need to work on and so on.

And who the hell am I to judge? Why am I qualified to tell you how it is? Because I have coached 5 years of youth lacrosse and travel lacrosse, 4 years of high school lacrosse and 6 years of college lacrosse. I have officiated 3 years of summer and winter leagues and have been an actual paid official at the modified through varsity level the past two seasons. I played this game I love from the time I was in 5th grade all the way up into my mid 30’s.

I am quite literally one of the MOST QUALIFIED PEOPLE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET EARTH TO CALL YOU OUT ON THIS BEHAVIOR.  I have experienced parents and fans from all sides of the ball.  I’ve been a player that endured the heckling of a couple of these types of dads and I wasn’t even their kid. I’ve been a fan/relative of players and have sat in the stands with people like you. I have been the coach of the player you were instructing to do the opposite of what I just told him to do. I have been an official that has taken your abuse, and in almost every case, your argument was just plain wrong and was borderline gibberish.

But my biggest qualification for being the the right guy to call you out for your behavior is this… As a coach, post-game, in the locker room, I witnessed a kid address the entire team to apologize for the behavior of his father. And I saw how he tried to use humor to cover his shame. Shame over something he had no control over, and that in reality had nothing to do with him.

So while at the game, please, oh please, I beg you to take a good look at yourself. Take a look around and realize that there are only 4 or 5 of you at this entire game. The rest of us just want to enjoy it, and you’re not only ruining the experience for us, but you’re ruining the experience for your own damn kid.

AND PLEASE, to the 97% of parents out there that don’t fall into this category, take no offence.  I know we all fall victim to some douche nozzlery here and there.  We can’t help it.  Yes, we will yell at a ref (I’ve been both the yeller, and the yelled at).  We’ll question a coach’s decision.  We’ll get down on a kid despite the fact in hindsight, that’s stupid.  I’m not talking to you.  We all fall victim to our lesser selves from time to time.  This is directed at those 2 or 3 parents at every game that make us all look like saints.