Morning Jac: Wednesday Games to Watch
No. 9 Dickinson (9-1) at Gettysburg (6-4), 4 p.m.
The Red Devils are in a good spot. They are the logical front-runners for the Centennial automatic qualifier and have the résumé for an at-large bid if they stumble in the conference tournament. Both of those possibilities become tenuous if Dickinson doesn't clean up the mid-to-bottom teams in the league. Unfortunately for the Devils, Gettysburg falls into that category record-wise, even though the Bullets are always a tough out, especially at home. I think Dickinson should be very worried about this one.
Bowdoin (3-4) at Colby (3-4), 7 p.m.
The race is already on to make the NESCAC tournament. Two of the 10 teams in the league will be left on the outside and there are five teams who are sweating it right now with either one or no conference wins after four games. The Polar Bears and White Mules are both included in that crew, so one team will create a little breathing room while the other will be nervous until the last game. Unlike most leagues, the sixth and seventh-seeded teams in the NESCAC are capable of making a magical three-game run, so getting eligible is crucial. I'm leaning toward Bowdoin in a low-scoring affair.
Hamilton (6-1) at Union (4-2), 7 p.m.
The Liberty League only has four teams make its conference tourney, so the pressure is ratcheted up. The Continentals and Dutchmen both have designs on making the tournament, so this is a big one. The winner will probably be the third-seed and the loser will have pressure games against Clarkson and St. Lawrence to get the fourth. I like Union at home with the better goalie.
Ithaca (5-2) at No. 5 Cortland (5-2), 7 p.m.
I know it's blasphemy, but I'm starting to wonder just how good this Cortland team is. Sure, they have the talent, but something doesn't feel right. I'm watching this one to see if the Red Dragons can put away a semi-decent team from a strong conference.
No. 7 Middlebury (5-1) at No. 12 Amherst (7-1), 4:30 p.m.
The Lord Jeffs are hoping to party like it's 1989. That's the last time Amherst beat Middlebury on the men's lacrosse field. Any questions about the wisdom of hiring John Thompson away from Colby have already been answered, but if the Jeffs pull this one off he'll be the king of the Pioneer Valley. I'm not sure Amherst is ready this year. I like the Panthers to win a close one.
No. 14 (7-0) Trinity at No. 18 Wesleyan (6-2), 4:30 p.m.
When did you start believing in Conn. College last year? I was always expecting the next game to be the one to expose the Camels, but it just never seemed to happen. The same has been true for Trinity this year. Alas, I'm not a believer yet. They'll probably prove me wrong, but there are too many holes on the Bantams squad for them to beat the Cardinals in Middletown.
Washington & Lee (7-5) at No. 8 Roanoke (7-3), 7 p.m.
The Generals have been a fascinating team to watch this year. They struggled early, but now have found their identity, and are more than happy to grind out 5-4 wins. It's helped them churn out four league victories and sit atop the conference. If W&L can make the trip to Salem and stifle the Maroons, the ODAC will go through Lexington. Unfortunately, because their offense is so limited, the margin of error is tiny for the Generals. That's why Roanoke will take this one.
No. 8 Boston College (5-2) at New Hampshire (1-3), 8 p.m.
This is it for the Wildcats. They have to prove that they are competitive or it's pretty much over. They've already installed a new coaching staff, so there are no more quick fixes. Can they turn it around mid-season? It's plausible, I suppose. It doesn't help that BC looks better than it did last year. It'll be the Eagles.
Best & Worst
Worst part about today: Seventeen more days to go.