Schooling Schooler: Nick Takes the Plunge
Schooler is convinced that No. 2 Arizona State will prevail in Friday's match-up with No. 3 Colorado State. Coyne will be going with Greyson Konkel and the Rams.
© Cecil Copeland
I received a missive the other day from Nick telling me that he's jumping into his current relationship with two feet and moving in with his girlfriend. As an all-inclusive, compassionate conservative, I won't pass moral judgment on Schooler and his life choices. That's just not what we do.
This could indirectly pay dividends for me, however.
Schooler has been in the zone of late -- he picked up another game on me last week to take a two-game edge (19-11 to 17-13) -- so having the added distraction will come in handy.
While he's trying to break down the games each week, he'll have his life partner barking at him to pick up his stink-riddled clothes off the hardwood floors or start mowing the lawn. Instead of heading down to happy hour and talking lacrosse with his "bros," getting insights he might not otherwise have had, he'll be expected to stay home and spend quality time. Or maybe just "talk."
Fortunately for Nick, he's on a week-long stay in New Orleans chasing one of his liberal lost causes -- saving the whales, or something -- so he should be rested and ready for our six-week push until the postseason. It's a big weekend of games, so he better be sharp.
SCHOOLER: While kicking back, sipping on a Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's in the Big Easy last weekend, I realized that there were lacrosse game being played. I pulled out my smart phone and checked the scores. To my surprise, I had picked up a game on Jac.
Ah, the joys of being back in school: I get a spring break. Not like the Cancun trip during my undergrad years, but a nice relaxing one. There was lots of good food, good music, site-seeing, and a few drinks with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, I have to take a little time out of my vacation to make these picks. Here's to picking up one more game on Jacqui.
Onto the picks...
No. 10 Santa Barbara (6-2) at No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) – 7 p.m., Thursday
COYNE: All things being equal, Michigan State is the deeper, more talented team. Add in the fact they are playing at home and will be sharper than the Gauchos -- UCSB hasn't played a ranked team in a month -- and this is an easy pick.
There is room for the Gauchos to pull the upset. Sparty is not a dominant faceoff team and Oisin Lewis has proved to be a handful at the 'X' this season. This will allow UCSB to hang around, probably until mid-third quarter, but Michigan State will start to pull away at that point. All the Gauchos will have at the end of the contest will be insomnia -- from the game as well as the three hours they lost on the flight out. Sparty, 13-9.
SCHOOLER: No question who I pick here, but I am honestly a little scared of Michigan State. The Spartans play very well at home and that is how they have emerged in the national picture. They have been able to catch some teams looking ahead to the Michigan game. Another factor in this game is UCSB's rustiness: the Gauchos haven't practiced or played in two weeks.
It's one of the downfalls of attending a school with the quarter system. They just finished finals last week and are in the middle of spring break. On the bright side, that could also mean that some of the banged up Gauchos get healthy. CJ Jacobs, their best middie, has been nursing injury after injury all season. He should be back to 100 percent this week. I'm looking for Jamie Bridgman and Jacobs to be lights out in this game. Lots of top cheese from the Gauchos. UCSB in a close one.
No. 2 Arizona State (6-0) at No. 3 Colorado State (4-0) – 7 p.m., Friday
COYNE: The teams considered the last two contenders to hand Michigan a regular season loss meet in Fort Collins on Friday night. Who's going to win it? I'm going to take my cue from last year, when the Rams traveled down to Phoenix and beat the Sun Devils, 14-10.
That ASU team was better than this year's team when one considers the losses: All-Americans Tyler Westfall (attack), Anthony LaFlam (middie) and Justin Krider (defense). This year's Colorado State squad is nearly identical among its key players as last season, and the Rams boast the better faceoff man in Scott Gelston. Throw in home field advantage and this one is easy to call. The only wild card is Ryan Westfall. While I think he'll go off, he won't be enough. Ram tough, 13-12.
SCHOOLER: There is no question I am going with the red hot Sun Devils. Altitude? No problem. Snow? No problem. Sleet? No problem. ASU is the best team in the county. I am not on their jock or anything (Jac thinks I am), just stating the truth. And to be honest, I saw Colorado State play, and they have a lot of weaknesses, one being their defense.
But Alex Smith seems to know that, changing their playing style accordingly. They play a very slow game, similar to Michigan and the old Mike Allan UCSB squads. They hold the ball on offense to keep it out of their defensive end of the field. This could frustrate the Devils, but with their offense, they will score every time they get the ball. I'm going with Arizona State by 5.
No. 4 Chapman (6-1) at No. 7 BYU (9-2) - 7 p.m., Saturday
COYNE: In order to win this game, Chapman must keep BYU in single digits. Can they do it? A couple of weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought so, but after this past weekend when the Cougars managed only six goals against Michigan and seven against Michigan State, I'm starting to believe it's likely. Playing at home will certainly help, but the Panthers defense is probably the best one BYU will see all season.
Obviously, Chapman's Achilles heel is they can't score -- an odd transition from the run-and-gun Panthers of the last three seasons. And the Panthers will be trying to double down, as they play Utah on Friday night. This raises serious concerns, but I'm going to assume the defense will carry the day. Chapman, 8-6.
SCHOOLER: If this game is in SoCal, I am going with Chapman. But since this is in Provo, the pick is BYU. Aside from the Duluth game, the Cougars have been solid at home. After a tough "double down" in Michigan, they are looking to turn things around. Ted Ferrin (34g, 28a) and Tyler Monteath (15g, 13a) are an unstoppable combo. The Panthers have some guns as well, but they do not have the depth to win in Provo. This game will be close throughout, but the Cougars will pull away in the fourth and hold for to victory.
No. 13 Boston College (3-1) at No. 8 Michigan State (4-1) - 1 p.m., Sunday
COYNE: Michigan State is going to win this game, so I'm just hoping that Schooler gets one of those "feelings" he occasionally encounters when making his selections and takes the Eagles. Boston College is decent, but they'll be coming off a game against Michigan on Friday while Sparty will have an extra day with their UCSB game falling on a Thursday. MSU, 13-8.
SCHOOLER: I know that it will be tough for the Spartans to come out and play after the beat down they will receive on Thursday night from the Gauchos, but they need to. Boston College looks pretty good so far. They gave ASU one of their closest games all season (14-5) and beat Arizona on its home field. Michigan State, on the other hand, has done pretty well, knocking off BYU last week. The Spartans have a strong attack, led by Patrick Nemes. I am not sure if the Eagle's defense will be able to shut them down. I am going with Michigan State in this one.
Tennessee (2-3) vs. Texas A&M (4-4) – 7:30 p.m., Saturday
SCHOOLER: Since I picked up another game this week, I thought I would step out of the box and pick a game involving two teams that I am not very familiar with. Both are in weak conferences that should only send their AQ to nationals. Both have failed miserably against top 25 opponents. I want to credit the Aggies for putting together a very tough schedule, but I don't think they will pull this one off like last year. They have lost some talent and can't win this game only with the skills of just Chris Duin. The Volunteers (I hate that name), take this in a close one.
COYNE: This is a complete sandbag pick. Nick is trying to shorten the competition by choosing contests with obvious winners. It's a very nervous tactic for someone in the lead. Whatever, that's fine. I'll take the push and hope for some magic on the top three games. Tennessee will beat A&M, 14-9.