Weekend Preview: Orange and Blue Rivalry
1. Syracuse's barometer
Syracuse is 5-0, and the third-ranked team in the country across all polls. Should the Orange be even higher? We will find out when John Desko and company play at No. 8 Johns Hopkins (3-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.
Gary Lambrecht examined the Syracuse squad earlier this week, looking at the development of the Orange offense in the early season, which has included wins against Siena, Albany, Army, Virginia and St. John's. The toughest challenge came in Charlottesville from the Cavaliers.
The tilt with traditional rival Johns Hopkins will be a top-5/10 barometer for the Orange. Syracuse of course has one of the best faceoff guys in the country in Ben Williams and one of the better goalies in Warren Hill.
If the offensive question marks sure themselves up (or already have) that just leaves the defense, which has been bolstered by the addition of freshman Nick Mellen. He is drawing top assignments in his first year.
Last time these two programs — which will meet for the 55th time Saturday — played at Homewood Field in 2014, Ryan Brown dropped eight goals, the first of three times he's done it in his college career.
The Jays' will likely throw a combination of Hunter Moreland (72.2 percent) and Craig Madarasz (51.1) at Williams (71.1) on faceoffs.
2. 1-vs.-2 hangover?
Denver and Notre Dame's games this week have not gotten the same treatment as their meeting last week, but they are more than worth keeping an eye on.
Top-ranked Denver (6-0) hosts Ohio State (5-3), a program that has given the Pioneers some trouble in the past, although not in Colorado. Second-ranked Notre Dame (4-1) welcomes a reeling Virginia (3-4) squad for an ACC matchup. Will either the Pioneers or Irish have a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 hangover? Will it be stronger than anyone's from St. Patrick's Day? Both games are nationally televised with Notre Dame-Virginia at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU, and Ohio State-Denver at 3 p.m. on Fox College Sports.
3. America East supremacy on the line
Hofstra coach Seth Tierney alluded to what could happen when Stony Brook and the Pride met Tuesday night on Long Island. In an on-field interview on Lax Sports Network after Hofstra's beat Ohio State last Saturday, Tierney said they just had to focus on preparation and not worry about "who was ranked where."
Stony Brook (5-1), ranked 16th to Hofstra's 12th in the Nike/LM Top 20, has a strong top-15 case after cruising past the Pride on Tuesday night, and perhaps even higher if they follow with a win at Albany (3-2) on Saturday.
More importantly, this is the first crack Stony Brook gets at its America East rival in four years without the Great Danes' featuring Lyle Thompson. This year's class of Seawolves seniors — including midfielder Challen Rogers (21 points) and attackmen Brody Eastwood (18) and Matt Schultz (27) — won't soon forget Thompson's buzzer-beating heroics at the end of the 2014 America East title game. Thompson scored with seconds left in regulation to send the game to OT. If he hadn't, some of these Seawolves would have already played in the NCAA tournament.
Weekend watch time. What's the biggest game of the weekend?— Corey McLaughlin (@Corey_McL) March 17, 2016
4. Ivy League Madness begins
Now the hard part starts. The top two teams in the Ivy League — Brown and Yale —are a combined 10-0 in non-conference play. Harvard was 4-0 before its two losses last week to Bryant and Penn State. Now these teams start to play each other. The Bears, averaging a national-best 18.6 goals per game (second place is Villanova with 16.00 per), head to the No. 17 Crimson (4-2) for a 1 p.m. Saturday. No. 4 Yale (5-0) is in Ithaca to face Cornell (3-2) at the same time.
5. Upstarts rising
They are on the national lacrosse map. The next step is staying there.
It won't be easy for No. 15 Boston University (6-1) on the road at Patriot League foe Bucknell (4-3), which is coming off a disheartening 12-8 loss to Villanova on Tuesday in which they were outshot 55-26. Sam Talkow could be a key on faceoffs for the Terriers.
On Tobacco Road, No. 14 North Carolina (4-3) is visited by No. 18 Richmond (6-1). Since the Spiders beat Duke less than two weeks ago, they won't sneak up on anybody. A loss by North Carolina would likely drop it out of the Top 20, as was the case for Virginia this week after losing its fourth game of the season, to Cornell.
6. Others of note
UMass (3-4) at No. 20 Penn State (5-2), Noon
Each scored upsets last week, of North Carolina and Harvard, respectively. Only one can win again.
No. 11 Loyola (4-2) at Navy (3-2), 1 p.m.
These two were the Patriot League front-runners at the beginning of the season. Navy has almost been forgotten — and this will be the Mids first game in two weeks — but their only two losses of the year have been to Johns Hopkins and Boston University in double overtime.
Where to Watch on TV/Streams
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