March 16, 2011

Schooling Schooler: Nick's Hitting the Sauce

By Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

What's this? A Division II team? Make Nick's a double.
© Cecil Copeland

Nicky leads us off this week:

SCHOOLER: What is wrong with us? Two weeks ago, we had all of the same picks. Last week, all of our picks were different except for one. Yet, we still pushed.

I am dropping into a deep depression. The Gauchos are in the middle of finals and then headed on spring break, so there are no games to watch. All I see are the few high school games that I get to ref. I don't even go to happy hours anymore. I sit in the corner of my room, in front of my laptop, sipping on some plastic bottle generic brand whiskey, waiting for the results of the latest MCLA games.

Then I think of Jac, feeling the same way, but he has to live in the middle of the county, not southern California. No cool sea breezes, no hordes of beautiful women, no daily happy hours. And the worst thing about it all, he can't even drink. He has sworn off drinking for this ritual that they call Lent.

Maybe he should have sworn off picking Division II games, because he did a terrible job at that. And guess what, he has done it again. Good luck Jacqui. I feel sorry for you. Hopefully gaining a game this week will bring you out of that dark hole that you have been sitting in for the past six weeks. Go Gauchos (in the NCAA basketball tournament)!

COYNE: I'll give it up to Nick; he's making me work this year. I was up by a dozen games last year in this competition at this point, but Schooler is grinding out the weekly picks, holding on to his one-game lead (15-10 to 14-11).

We should have some movement here in Week 6. We differ on three selections, while both agreeing on the current No. 1 teams: Michigan and Grand Valley State.

And, yes, I will be rooting hard against UCSB in the men's basketball tournament.

Onto the games...

No. 4 BYU (8-0) at No. 1 Michigan (6-0) – 7 p.m., Friday

COYNE: Am I tempted? Of course I am. I'm always tempted to take whichever team is playing Michigan, but it's a sucker bet at this point, even with a team that looks as good as the Cougars do right now. I think I can finally catch Nicky this week, and betting against the Wolverines will not allow that to happen. I'll take the push on this contest.

Normally, I'd be interested in the second game of the weekend for UM, but the Maize & Blue have lined up Pittsburgh for the Saturday tilt. Yawn. Michigan over BYU, 12-9.

SCHOOLER: I do not think that Michigan will lose at home this season until they play Arizona State. That being said, BYU is a great team and has the potential to upset the Wolverines. Aside from the atrocious field known as Maxwell (Kleeberger) Field in Berkeley, Oosterbaan Fieldhouse is the next hardest place to play in the MCLA. It is not because of the fans or poor field conditions. It is because they play indoors and the walls are the same color as the ball. I remember having a lot of difficulty following the ball at that place. I hope that Jac picks the Cougars, because they are going to get slain. Go Blue!

No. 13 Minn.-Duluth (2-2) vs. No. 6 Colorado (1-1) – 7 p.m. PT, Saturday (at Oregon)

COYNE: I'll admit it, Colorado's hijinx last year annoyed me. They were a very unlikable team, but I'm starting to come around on the Buffs. Mike Ryder is the prototypical Salisbury lacrosse grad -- fun-loving with a dash of cockiness -- and his team has embraced that same persona. Granted, the Buffs have a long way to go to come anywhere near the success of the Gulls, but the talent is there if they can stay on track.

They'll go against a machine-like Duluth squad that has the ability to grind down any team in the country, but isn't built to work from behind against strong offensive teams. A quick Colorado start will have the Dawgs chasing the game, and that isn't going to end well for the Midwest's flag-bearer. Buffs, 13-9.

SCHOOLER: I think this is a very tough game to chose. Duluth is a little underrated and Colorado is overrated. The Bulldogs played BYU to a very tight game, then had to turn around and play a very tough Utah team a few days later. The "double down" really backfired on them. That being said, I think that Colorado is a bit overrated. Yes, the Buffs beat Utah, but they played them before playing BYU. If the Dogs can contain James Blackburn, they will win. I am going with Duluth in a close one.

No. 22 New Hampshire (0-0) at No. 19 Arizona (4-3) – 1 p.m. PT, Saturday

COYNE: I'm not going to make the same mistake twice and pick against a PCLL team heading to Tucson. Boston College went down and shut out the Wildcats for 45 minutes, and while I think UNH isn't quite up to the Eagles' level at this point, the (other) Wildcats aren't that far behind. UNH, like BC, benefits from their location in the lacrosse hotbed for the new millennium – New England.

Arizona is being propped up in the rankings by a neutral field win over a 2-4 Cal team. Other than that, UA is in a tailspin, losing three straight, including a 14-3 beatdown to Chapman on Tuesday. I don't think 'Zona will have an answer for UNH attackmen Evan Flower and Joe Gardiner. New Hampster, 11-7.

SCHOOLER: This was a much easier game to choose before Arizona crumbled against San Diego State last weekend. But I am still going with my SLC team. The Laxcats already have a lot of games under their belt, while the Wildcats will only have one. Since I know how much Jac hates the name Laxcats, he will surely chose Wildcats just to spite Arizona and their lacrosse mascot. Arizona by at least 5 goals.

Coyne's Pick

No. 2 Davenport (6-0) at No. 1 Grand Valley State (5-0) – 5:30 p.m., Thursday

COYNE: This is an extremely difficult game to pick. There's no denying what Grand Valley accomplished in St. Paul last weekend. It was one of the epic offensive displays in the young history of Division II. Alas, I've been enamored of what Davenport has returning from last year's team and how they have handled every opponent with relative ease so far.

Last year, the teams played twice, with the Lakers taking both matchups. GVSU is better this year with the prodigal return of Cam Holding (31g, 8a in five games), who has been plying his trade with NCAA Division II Florida Southern the past two years. The Panthers are going to get their goals in what will prove to be a high-scoring affair, but it'll be Grand Valley at the end, 18-15.

SCHOOLER: Old Jacqui is getting pretty desperate now. He is banking on the Division II games to get ahead. It didn't work out so well for him last week. Maybe I should just let him pick for me again this week. But what if he is playing some mind trick on me? I will just pick the upset. See how that works out. So I will go with Grand Valley State.

COYNE: Taking the No. 1 team in the country in an upset? That must be the 80 proof whiskey Nick's sipping.

Schooler's Pick

Chico State (4-2) at Florida (4-6) – 8 p.m., Friday

SCHOOLER: Normally I would pick the West Coast team in a matchup like this. However, I am a huge fan of "The Situation" on the MTV show The Jersey Shore. Therefore, I love the new Gators motto: Gym, Tan, Lax (G.T.L.). I need to get myself one of those shirts. But onto the game.

I'm not sure what is going on with Florida this season. How can one year make such a big difference? I am not buying it. I think that the Gators are just waiting to get back into the swing of things. Maybe they need a little less of the tan and a little more of the gym and lax. Chico has done pretty will this year. The Wildcats have only lost two games, and those were against some talented WCLL teams. But I am feeling it. The Gators are ready to turn it around. I am picking Florida by a goal in Gainsville. They will need this win, especially after the Gauchos stun them in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.

COYNE: How can one year make a big difference? It's called graduation, bro. Did you see what the Gators lost from last year? It happens sometimes. And when Cental Florida knocks UF out of the SELC tourney in a couple of weeks, we'll officially be calling this a "bridge year" for Florida.

Chico's decent. Trevor Stotka (20g, 9a) and Graham Nichols (14g, 7a) are a powerful one-two punch up front, and freshman Matt Smith has been excellent in goal so far (65.1 save percentage). The cross-country trip will take its toll, but I like the Wildcats to leave Gainesville with a win, 14-10.


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