Morning Jac: The MCLA's Second Season Begins Today in Denver
Thirty-two teams in two divisions of the MCLA have descended on Dick's Sporting Good Park in Commerce City, Colo., for the culmination of another season. The champion in each division will have won four games in five days, starting this morning. In total, 16 games will be played on opening day, commencing at 10 a.m. MDT with four games and concluding at 7 p.m. MDT with another quartet of contests.
There are the obvious storylines: Will Michigan (allegedly) sail off into the sunset with a fourth straight championship? Will Grand Valley State challenge St. Thomas' run as two-time king in Division II.
For the rest of the competitors, it boils down to respect. No one outside of their respective fan bases gives the remaining 31 teams any prayer of holding up the coveted silver chalice on Saturday night. And while gaudy regular season records, a couple of big wins, or a conference tournament crown may get you noticed, program respect only comes via titles.
Texas is looking for a little respect after its undefeated season netted the Longhorns a No. 13 seed. UC Santa Barbara is searching for an opportunity to make up for its 21-0 loss to Michigan. St. John's wants to prove the win over St. Thomas wasn't a fluke. Oregon hopes to show that the team that started the season was somebody else. And Briarcliffe is on a quest to show the MCLA that they have good lacrosse on Long Island (Wait. What?).
The beauty of the condensed format in the MCLA tournament is how the priorities have changed. All 32 teams that are in Denver today had the expansive goal of winning the national championship. It was quixotic quest for most, but they all unfailingly had it at the bottom of the "Team Goals" pamphlet handed out at the first preseason meeting. While it will be unwritten, the primary goal of every program now is to simply have a game on Wednesday.
There will be some upsets in the first round that will shatter perceptions. The middle seeds (5 through 12) are close enough talent-wise in both divisions to yield plenty of oddities in the bracket. Boston College-Colorado is a toss-up. Same with Oregon-Cal Poly, Westminster-Western Oregon and SCAD-North Dakota State. Even the Duluth-Colorado State game is anything but a slam dunk.
If you get a chance today, check out some of the action in Denver. Collegelax.tv will be broadcasting half of the games today, running all the way though to this evening. There will also be livestats and live blogs available. I'll be flying out to cover the semifinals and finals, which starts on Friday, for Lacrosse Magazine Online.
A live, high-quality broadcast of the two Division I semifinals on Friday night and both championship games on Saturday night will be available. All four contests are being broadcast on Fox College Sports (and on the FCS website), beginning at 6 p.m. EDT on Friday.
Best & Worst
Best part about today: The culmination of five months covering the MCLA begins today and I'm looking forward to kicking back with dual computer screens and watching the action.
Worst part about today: I'll be pretty distracted watching the games as I've got several lengthy stories to complete.