Men's Weekend Watch: No. 1 vs. No. 2
1. Notre Dame-Denver Closes Out the Weekend
The big kahuna of all matchups this week is No. 1 Notre Dame (4-0) vs. No. 2 Denver (5-0).
The last six meetings have been decided by a combined eight goals.
Denver has won the last three after Notre Dame won five straight from 2009-13.
Four of the last six have went to overtime, including both games last year won by Denver 11-10, the latter in the national semifinals.
If OT happens again, Denver got some live preparation last week against North Carolina, when Connor Cannizzaro was on the end of a brilliantly designed play by offensive coordinator Matt Brown.
Notre Dame has been one of the few teams that has figured out a way to make Denver faceoff man Trevor Baptiste not appear as dominant as he normally does, tying him up and getting wings involved.
And this year, Notre Dame's specialist P.J. Finley is winning at 62.3 percent, 10 percent above his rate last season at the Irish's primary specialist. Baptiste is at 71.2, second in the nation behind Brown senior Will Gural (79.2).
ESPNU has the broadcast at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Sunday before college basketball Bracketology gets going. That is followed by ESPN's 30 for 30 "Fantastic Lies" on the Duke lacrosse scandal of 10 years ago.
2. Towson Tough
What not long ago was a Johns Hopkins-and-everyone-else discussion in Baltimore's NCAA Division I world has developed into a triangle of competitiveness among the Blue Jays and neighborhood foes Towson and Loyola.
Who could figure the pecking order, based on regular season head-to-head results this year, could end up, 1) Towson; 2) Loyola and 3) Johns Hopkins?
If the fifth-ranked Tigers (5-0) are able to keep things rolling by beating No. 11 Johns Hopkins (2-2) at Homewood Field on Saturday, that's how it will shake out. If the Blue Jays' defend their home turf, then it ends in sort of a draw, since Loyola beat Johns Hopkins and Towson beat Loyola earlier in the season.
The mere fact that Towson, under fifth-year coach Shawn Nadelen, is in the discussion and near the top of the national rankings is significant. How far can this team go? They have one of the top goalies (Tyler White, 64.3 save percentage) and defenses in the country (5.6 goals allowed per game, second-best nationally).
Nevertheless, Johns Hopkins won't like being the lower-ranked team of the two and will look to prove it otherwise.
3. Keep Watch On
No. 19 Rutgers (5-0) at Stony Brook (3-1), 6 p.m. Friday
Rutgers is 5-0, but this will be the Scarlet Knights' toughest test yet.
No. 6 Harvard (4-1) at Penn State (4-2), 10 a.m. Saturday
How does the Crimson respond after losing its first game of the year to Bryant on Tuesday night. Penn State beat Furman on the road the same day to end a two-game losing skid.
No. 8 Duke (4-3) at No. 7 Loyola (4-1), 11 a.m. Saturday
This was an intriguing matchup even before Duke lost to Richmond, becoming the latest ACC team to suffer a non-conference setback. One of these two teams will suffer another one that will play into NCAA tournament selection and seeding come May.
No. 13 Maryland (2-2) at Princeton (1-2), Noon Saturday
The Terps scored a dozen goals at Drexel on Tuesday night. This is the end of four straight road games for Maryland. The span also included a game in California against Notre Dame last Saturday night. Princeton will have midfielder Zach Currier back.
No. 14 Virginia (3-3) at Cornell (1-2), Noon Saturday
So far, Cornell looks like it will be fighting its way through much of the season. Virginia got up for last Friday's rivalry game against Syracuse. Will the same happen in Ithaca.
No. 20 Ohio State (5-1) at No. 12 Hofstra (3-1), Noon Saturday
The Buckeyes crept back into the Nike/LM Top 20 after a pair of wins that included a victory over previously ranked Marquette. This might be Ohio State's toughest test since it lost 16-9 at UMass on Feb. 20. Hofstra will look to get back on track after losing its first game to Georgetown last week.
No. 10 North Carolina (3-2) at UMass (2-4), 1 p.m. Saturday
Speaking of UMass, the Minutemen haven't scored double-digit goals in any game this season other than that 16-9 win over the Buckeyes. But a Greg Cannella team seems to be at its best with its back against the wall.
No. 4 Yale (4-0) at Fairfield (2-4), 1 p.m. Saturday
Yale put together an incredible second half rally to turn around a six-goal, third-quarter deficit into a X-goal win over St. John's. Fairfield will take its best shot at the Bulldogs, too, and just beat Georgetown on Tuesday.
Penn (3-1) at No. 15 Villanova (3-1), 4 p.m. Saturday
Penn appears improved from last season and has the fourth best overall record among Ivy League teams so far, behind undefeated Brown (4-0), Yale and 4-1 Harvard. 'Nova means business on offense this year and has a great faceoff guy to get them ball. Jake Froccaro leads the nation in goals per game (4.75), Villanova ranks behind only Brown in goals per game (17.00 to 17.75), and sophomore Luke Palmadesso ranks third nationally in faceoff percentage (70.2).
4. And in light of Tuesday night, these ones too...
Jacksonville (2-3) at Richmond (5-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
Spider Watch. The slayers of Duke play their second Southern Conference game.
Drexel (1-4) at Bryant (4-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
With its upcoming schedule, it's not unlikely that Bryant's win over Harvard on Tuesday could be the start of good-sized winning streak.
St. John's (1-5) at No. 3 Syracuse (4-0), 4 p.m. Saturday
St. John's gave Yale a scare for a little over a half. Facing Syracuse in the Dome will be an entirely different challenge.
5. Stomach virus at Lafayette
The Lafayette at Navy game scheduled for Saturday has been postponed until March 22 due to a stomach virus outbreak on the Lafayette campus. Yuck. The illness led to the cancellation of all activites on the Easton, Pa., campus on Wednesday afternoon through the weekend, including intercollegiate athletics.
Where to Watch on TV/Streams
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