Care to lax?
May Madness is here as the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Tournament kicks off today on ESPNU. Four games today, and four games on Sunday. This is the equivalent of lacrosse heaven. I’ve been a huge lacrosse fan ever since I was a little kid. The fast-paced, nonstop action combines the principles of both hockey and basketball. It’s a shame that lacrosse is still struggling to reach a national audience. On the youth level, you’re starting to see more teams pop up throughout the country, but until their professional league gets more notoriety and the game spreads from coast to coast, it’s still an uphill battle.
That being said, today is a great weekend to see why thousands of people including myself love this game. For this preview, I will give a few brief thoughts on each game with predictions. I’ll reveal my Final Four and Champion at the end. Here we go.
First Round Games
UMass at 3. Yale – Saturday, noon on ESPNU
Yale was once the best team in the country this year. However, last week’s loss to Cornell in the Ivy League Final showed that this team is far from perfect. On the other hand, UMass has been perfect for months with their last loss coming in the beginning of March. since March. Although Yale is 1-5 in the NCAA tourney the last decade, this team is different thanks to Ben Reeves.
Yale 14, UMass 9
Villanova at 4. Duke, Saturday, 2:15 p.m. on ESPNU
Duke is arguably the most consistent lacrosse program since 2007. 8 Final Fours and 2 National Titles since Coach John Danowski arrived. Is that good? Villanova is a team that is clinging on to it’s early season win vs. Yale because to say that they have struggled down the stretch is an understatement. 2-3 down the stretch is not good! I expect Justin Guterding to torch Nova’s defense, but don’t be surprised if this game is close at halftime.
Duke 13, Villanova 6
Richmond at 2. Albany, Saturday, 5 p.m. on ESPNU
Will Albany finally breakthrough and make a Final Four? They’ve been knocking on the door the past couple of years, but it’s been to no avail. The fate of their season will be determined if star attackman Connor Fields will play. I fear for Richmond because they may never get the ball. Here are the face-off win percentage rankings:
Albany’s TD Ierlan – 1st
Richmond’s Garrett Smith – 70th
Albany in a bllodbath, but Connor Fields needs to be healthy next week to even have a shot at making Championship Weekend.
Albany 19, Richmond 7
Virginia at 6. Loyola, Saturday, 7:15 p.m. on ESPNU
Game of the day, game of the first round, and it has the chance to be the game of the tournament. This is going to be fun. For my money, Loyola has the best player in the country in Patrick Spencer. There’s nothing he can’t do with a lacrosse stick. He’s big, fast, and is the best passer in the nation. For the Cavs, they want to run, run, and run again in transition. Virginia has multiple scoring weapons lead by Michael Kraus so I expect a high scoring affair. Virginia won by one goal earlier this year, but I expect that result to flip at Patrick Spencer and the Hounds move on.
Loyola 14, Virginia 13
Robert Morris at Maryland, Sunday, noon on ESPNU
A 16 seed beat a 1 seed in basketball this year. Will it happen in lacrosse? The short answer: no. Maryland are the defending champs for a reason. It’s hard to find a weakness on this team. With Connor Kelly and Jesse Bernhardt running the offense, the Terps are favorites to repeat.
Maryland 15, Robert Morris 5
Denver at Notre Dame, Sunday, 2:15 p.m. on ESPNU
Without a doubt, Notre Dame is the most dangerous team in the country. They looked dead in the water a few weeks ago, but once midfielder Brian Costabile and attackman/midfielder Brendan Gleason returned to the lineup, the Irish have been clicking on all cylinders. Do not be surprised if Notre Dame wins the National Title. That being said, Denver can control the game with one of the best players to ever take face offs in the history of the game, Trevor Baptiste. Baptiste can single handily put the team on his back, play make it-take it lacrosse, and win the game. That being said, Notre Dame is too hot to stop right now.
Notre Dame 13, Denver 10
Georgetown at Johns Hopkins, Sunday, 5 p.m. on ESPNU
Let’s clap it up for Georgetown. 4-10 a year ago and now the Hoyas are 12-4 and in the NCAA tournament. For Georgetown to win, they need to slow this game down to a snail’s pace and hope their goalie Nick Marroco puts on another performance like he did in the Big East Tournament. To be honest, I wrote off Hopkins at the beginning of the year. I watched them get spanked by Loyola and turn it around and lose to North Carolina. However, this offense is lethal. Joel Tinney, Shack Stanwick, Kyle Marr, and Cole Williams all have over 46 points. If goalie Brock Turnbaugh can make key stops, the Blue Jays might be playing on Memorial Day.
Cornell at Syracuse, Sunday, 7:15 p.m. on ESPNU
Best game of the day and when the dust has settled, it could be better than Virginia vs. Loyola. Want to know why lacrosse seeding is so flawed? Cornell has a better record, a conference title, and they beat Syracuse in the regular season. And yet, Syracuse is hosting this game? Folks, I’m not one to say this decision was made for television ratings and attendance numbers, but that’s exactly why it was made. Rant over. I can’t get a read on Syracuse. Will the team that beat Duke and Notre Dame show up or will the team that got spanked by Albany and Johns Hopkins take the field? Fresh off an Ivy League tournament title, Cornell will be pissed off because of this seeding. Jeff Teat is the best player in the country that you don’t know about. Despite being tied as the nation’s leading scorer. Cornell smells blood in the water and the Big Red are ready to pounce.
Cornell 16, Syracuse 10
2nd Round Predictions
Cornell over Maryland
Johns Hopkins over Duke
Yale over Loyola
Notre Dame over Albany
Johns Hopkins over Cornell
Notre Dame over Yale
Notre Dame over Johns Hopkins