I just had a secret meeting with the Blue Jay who apparently is out joy riding in Kyle Harrison's STX Lacrosse jeep. Not cool, Mr. Blue Jay.
Anyway, here's his rundown on the first round match-ups in the NCAA Men's Lacrosse First Round...
Denver at MD: Denver snuck in as the third Great Western Lacrosse League team to make it. The NCAA makes a point of seeding only the top 8. While generally it doesn’t mean much, it is because the next 8 are assigned loosely based on travel. That being said, with three teams making it from the GWLL, a subplot to this tournament will be how their first round matches come out. Denver might have a tough time with the time zone and altitude changes when they lead off with the noon game. Denver will look to utilize skills obtained during summer crab fishing jobs.
Loyola at Duke: Loyola found their way in with the automatic ECAC bid with an upset win over Georgetown, which proved costly for the Hoyas. Duke is the clear favorite in this tournament, seeking their first ever championship, but will face a more difficult than usual opening round game for a 1 seed when they host Loyola. Remember the Greyhouds beat upset Duke last year out in California. With the 2:30 game on Saturday Duke seniors should have no time getting to the afternoon Matinee to get their AARP discount.
Ohio State at Cornell: Ohio State, much like Denver, was aided by an early season victory over Colgate and picked up major RPI points when the Red Raiders went on their enormous run to close the year. An upset win over UNC helped them avoid playing a higher seed in the first round, as they travel to Cornell. Cornell, after falling to Princeton, lucked out when Dartmouth and Brown knocked the Tigers out and paved the way for Cornell to capture their 4th straight IVY crown. A win for Cornell would mean another home game as Ithaca is the neutral site for the northern quarterfinal. Don’t expect high ratings on this game though, as it apparently conflicts with an Ohio State football spring practice, lifting session, and later a televised team meal.
Navy at North Carolina: In a rematch of last years opening round game, Navy will travel to Chapel Hill to face the fourth seeded Tar Heels. Navy was one of the last teams in the tournament, having their worst season since 2003. Carolina, on the other hand, finally broke out to the contender many thought, despite not winning a single ACC game (again). Ian Dingman is not expected to play due to academic ineligibility.
Colgate at Notre Dame: In what may be the best opening round game, two non-traditional powers meet. Notre Dame put together the quietest 2 loss season in the country, only losing their two games by a combined 3 goals, both to tournament teams. They face a Colgate team that has won 7 straight, including a stunning victory over Syracuse this past Saturday. Notre Dame is hoping for nice weather Sunday, as their record is 0-1 during opening round NCAA games with three or more weather delays. (Net Crasher's note: How's that for a stat?)
Hofstra at Johns Hopkins: Johns Hopkins has won 2 of the last 3 national Championships, while Hofstra has defeated the Blue jays in two of their last three meetings, including an 8-7 overtime victory back in March. Hopkins was able to close their season out strong with 5 straight wins, three of which came over tournament teams. Hofstra won the Colonial title with an upset overtime win over favorite Drexel. Hopkins has experience everywhere except the goal, which is where their tournament hopes will ride. The game was moved to Sunday afternoon due to conflict with a champagne and cupcake formal. (N.C.'s note: "sounds like a helluva time")
UMBC at Virginia: Virginia nabbed the two seed with Syracuse’s loss on Saturday but cannot be pleased with the draw of UMBC (which was arranged based on the situation with the GWLL teams previously noted). UMBC started off 1-3, following a 10-8 loss toHopkins, but the retrievers have won 11 straight, 3 of which have come in OT. Along with a 14-13 win over Albany in the America East Tournament finals in which they scored 12 of the last 13 goals, this team will not be intimidated as it will look upset another ACC school in the first round. Las year, it defeated Maryland and then fell to Delaware in the quarterfinals. Virginia also has something to prove, as a team who was embarrassed on their home field in the first round last year as the two seed against the Delaware. UMBC will be concerned with a young man by the name of Ben Rubeor.
Canisius at Syracuse: Canisius gets their first ever NCAA bid with the MAAC championship. They will travel to fellow New York school Syracuse who is back in the tournament after a year hiatus. Syracuse sat atop the polls with Duke most of the year until their loss to Colgate to close the regular season. This might be the most lopsided opening match up of the first round. Syracuse will be aiming for their 9th national title, as they currently have 8. (N.C.'s note: a fact that seems to frequently escape our good friends at ESPN.
ESPN's coverage can be found here.