May 1, 2009

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Ten to Watch: Last Licks

by Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Note: This will be the last of LMO's "Ten to Watch" staff pick 'ems. The champ could come be determined, fittingly, by Villanova-Towson in the CAA championship, as frontrunners B-Logue and Ohanian sport identical records and differ only in that pick.

Check back to LMO in the coming weeks as we continue to prognosticate with no validation during May-hem.


WD1: No. 14 Ohio State at No. 15 Penn State (ALC Semifinal) – Friday, 5:30 p.m.

Hook: It appears these two teams are in a dogfight on the bubble with fellow ALC semifinalist Vanderbilt (playing Northwestern) and Ivy Leaguers Dartmouth and Cornell for two remaining NCAA tournament at-large berths– once you sift through AQs and surefire at-large qualifiers. Could the ALC sneak three teams into the tournament? If so, you could be looking at Vandy and the winner of this game as the two teams joining Northwestern in the fold.

MD3: NESCAC Tournament (in Middlebury, Vt.)

Semifinal: No. 16 Wesleyan at No. 2 Middlebury – Saturday, 12 p.m.
Semifinal: No. 13 Tufts vs. No. 18 Bowdoin– Saturday, 3 p.m.
Championship Game: Sunday, 12 p.m.

Hook: Four of the top 18 teams in Division III men’s lacrosse converge on Middlebury, Vt. -- essentially doubling the state's population in the process -- to hash out what will likely be three bids to the NCAA tournament announced Sunday night. Middlebury, which has just one blemish on the season, is the odds-on favorite to earn the automatic qualifier, but the three other teams have serious at-large aspirations. Tufts has wins over No. 8 Haverford, No. 12 WNEC and No. 15 Endicott; Wesleyan owns the only win over Middlebury; and Bowdoin dumped both Tufts and Wesleyan and lost to the Middlebury by a goal. This tournament is as much about determining who is the odd man out as it is crowning a conference champion.
 

WD3: NESCAC Tournament (in Medford, Mass.)

Semifinal: No. 15 Williams vs.. No. 5 Tufts – Saturday, 12 p.m.
Semifinal: No. 9 Middlebury vs. No. 3 Colby – Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Championship game: Sunday, 12 p.m.

Hook: Going the men's tournament a step better, the NESCAC women's tourney will boast three of the top nine teams in the country when the contestants assemble at Tufts this weekend. Williams and Middlebury -- teams that have made championship game appearances in their history -- are prohibitive underdogs in their semifinal match-ups against Tufts and Colby, a pair of relative NCAA neophytes. The White Mules are the only team to own a win against No. 1 Salisbury this year, and the Jumbos are the only squad to hand Colby a defeat, so the championship game could be classic, if the seeds hold.

Is there anything better than NESCAC tournament time? The semifinals in both genders are chalk full of ranked teams making for the best two days of lacrosse in any conference, in any division. And what a lot of people forget is the NESCAC student-athletes don't play for automatic qualifiers, at-large bids or conference championships - they just play for the 'Love of the Game.' Really, it's how intercollegiate athletics should be. So its irrelevant which programs win the title games on Sunday. As long as the fans arrive home safely and there are enough orange slices for all the competitors, it will be a great weekend for everyone.

 

WD1: No. 7 Princeton at No. 2 Maryland – Saturday, 12 p.m.

Hook: Seeding implications loom for these two. Princeton does not have a win over a top-five RPI team like Maryland. The Terps are a near-certainty for a seed, but a loss here and they could lose ground to Ivy League champion Penn.

WD1: No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 19 Cornell – Saturday, 12 p.m.

Hook: The Irish don’t want to rest on their Big East championship laurels just because they’re already in the NCAA tournament. The Big Red, meanwhile, can make a case for at-large consideration with a win here. Cornell has been plagued by inconsistency – starting 5-0, losing four straight, downing Vanderbilt handily, and then getting upset by Ivy League also-ran Harvard last week. It’s still in the picture however, and could leap a couple of spots with a victory.

MD1: No. 13 Loyola at No. 8 Johns Hopkins – Saturday, 1 p.m.

Hook: Think Loyola’s a shoe-in, regardless of the ECAC shakedown? Au contraire. Take a look at the Greyhounds’ schedule. Where’s the signature win? Georgetown? The Hounds would rest easier with the ECAC automatic qualifier, but UMass controls its destiny in that pursuit. Should the Minutemen beat woeful Rutgers, they get the AQ, putting Loyola in a crowded at-large pool with potential teams boasting top-five RPI wins. Beating Hopkins, of course, could give the Greyhounds that boost. On the flip side, the Blue Jays are fighting for a seed.

Loyola lost by one to Notre Dame, lost by one to Syracuse, lost by two to Duke and UMass -- if they'd had won one of those games, the Greyhounds would have already punched their ticket. Lose this one, and they could be the first one out -- the best team not in the NCAA tournament.

MD1: No. 10 Brown at No. 4 Princeton – Saturday, 1 p.m.

Hook: Ivy League title on the line — Brown wins and goes the long route to earning an NCAA tournament berth (through powerhouses Cornell and Princeton in consecutive weeks); Princeton wins, and Cornell gets the title and AQ via tiebreaker for a tie atop the Ivy League (perhaps only validating the Ivy League tournament starting in 2010).

WD2: No. 1 Adelphi at No. 2 C.W. Post – Saturday, 1 p.m.

Hook: Great scheduling: the clear-cut No. 1 against No. 2 on the last weekend of the season with the league championship and NCAA tournament’s top seed on the line. There’s no debate that these two have dominated the division this year. Adelphi (15-0) has barely been challenged in any game while steamrolling through its schedule. C.W. Post (15-1) has been nearly as good, with 15 straight wins since a season-opening loss at Division I Davidson. The winner clinches the East Coast Conference championship and the NCAA North Region’s bye into the national semifinal round.

MD1: No. 19 Colgate at No. 2 Syracuse – Saturday, 2 p.m.

Hook: Colgate’s triple-overtime loss to Navy in last week’s Patriot League semifinals leaves the Raiders in the precarious at-large pool, which could not be any tighter – especially with Hofstra falling in its CAA semifinal to eat up another at-large bid. However, Colgate has beaten Syracuse two years in a row, including a 12-11 victory last year, the Orange’s only loss en route to the national title. Another Raider upset could cause massive shifts in the RPI index.

Normally I don’t have a lot of sympathy for teams left out of the NCAA men’s lacrosse field. I mean, come on, there are 16 spots for the 59 teams playing in Division I. If men’s basketball had the same ratio, you’d be looking at a March Madness bracket of nearly 100 teams. Does 7-5 or 8-6 really deserve a shot at the national championship? But this year’s NCAA season is almost assuredly going to leave tourney-worthy teams home. Hofstra is in good shape, but its loss to Villanova in the CAA semifinals took away one bubble spot. If Notre Dame doesn’t win the GWLL, another spot vanishes as well. It’s shaping up to be an agonizing wait on Sunday for teams that legitimately could compete for the title in a season that has no clear-cut title favorite.

MD1: Villanova at Towson (CAA Championship Game) – Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Hook: Well, it’s wide open. Wither Villanova, an historically under-funded overachiever, will qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history, or Towson (7-9) will get in with a losing record. Thanks to ‘Nova ousting favorite Hofstra, the trickle effect has shrunk the at-large pool. The Wildcats defeated the Tigers, 13-4, during the regular season. But it was an uncharacteristically off day for Towson goalie Rob Wheeler, who squares off against Villanova counterpart Andrew DiLoreto, easily the CAA’s top two goalie and arguably the top two in the nation.

A lot of folks in the lacrosse community will be pulling for Towson in this game – not because they are Tiger fans, but because they are Tony Seaman fans. He’s not only one of the most successful coaches ever, ranking eighth among active D-1 coaches in career victories, but he’s one of the best-liked coaches in the profession. There has been some speculation that this may be his last year on the sidelines, but a victory over ‘Nova and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament may be just the thing that keeps him right where he is for a little while longer.



Last Week 7-3 7-3 7-3
8-2 3-7 6-4
Overall 75-35
75-35 72-38
71-39 64-46 64-46
W: Ohio St. @ Penn St.
Penn State
Penn State
Ohio State
Ohio State
Ohio State
Penn State
M: NESCAC Tournament
Middlebury
Middlebury
Middlebury
Bowdoin
Tufts
Middlebury
W: NESCAC Tournament
Colby
Colby
Middlebury
Colby
Middlebury
Colby
W: Princeton @ Maryland
Maryland
Maryland
Princeton
Maryland
Maryland
Princeton
W: Notre Dame @ Cornell
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Notre Dame
Cornell
M: Loyola @ Hopkins
Hopkins
Hopkins
Loyola
Loyola
Hopkins
Hopkins
M: Brown @ Princeton
Princeton
 Princeton
Princeton
Princeton
Brown
Princeton
W: Adelphi @ C.W. Post
Adelphi
Adelphi
C.W. Post
C.W. Post
C.W. Post
Adelphi
M: Colgate @ Syracuse
Syracuse
 Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
M: Villanova @ Towson
Villanova
Towson
Towson
Villanova
Villanova
Towson

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