The “Somehow There’s Only One Week Until Memorial Day Weekend” NCAA Lacrosse Quarterfinals Preview
8 teams. 7 games. 2 weekends. That’s all that’s left of the 2017 NCAA DI Lacrosse season. The boys have been grinding since February and the season ends 10 days from today. That’s 240 hours. Not to brag but I didn’t even have to use a calculator for that one.
Denver, Notre Dame, Duke, Ohio State, Syracuse, Towson, Albany and Maryland. If you don’t know how they got here, well then read up on the 1st round recap from Monday. You can check that out here. Towson and Duke are the only teams that advanced to the quarterfinals as unseeded teams but you can’t really call either of those wins “upsets”. The rest of the teams took care of business and now we head to Hofstra and UDel this weekend with a trip to Foxborough on the line. Let’s check out the lines and matchups, shall we?
About as tight as it can get. Combine the heat with how much you’ll be sweating out your bets this weekend and you might end up losing 20 lbs thanks to lacrosse. Just in time to get that summer bod correct.
Saturday Games | Hofstra University
#4 Notre Dame vs #5 Denver | 12pm | ESPNU | Line: Denver -1
Trevor Baptiste continued to prove why a FOGO belongs on the Tewaaraton Finalist list last weekend when Denver smacked Air Force 17-10. The kid is an absolute beast and gets Denver an extra 15 possessions every game. When you have somebody who has that dominant at the faceoff X, it completely changes the game. Especially at this point of the season when possessions mean everything. Not only are possessions important because it’s the quarterfinals. But they’re equally as important because of the heat. If you’re able to control the ball and control the pace of the game a little offensively, you let your defense rest. That puts more pressure on the other team’s offense to push the ball a little more whenever they do get possessions and then that forces turnovers. Trevor Baptiste is the biggest game changer left in this tournament right now I’d say. And as long as he stays around 70% on faceoffs, I don’t see Notre Dame making a run to Championship Weekend.
Especially not when guys like Ryder Garnsey and Sergio Perkovic are still dealing with some injuries. Garnsey’s foot/ankle is clearly bothering him and that stops him from being able to cut and dodge the way we’re used to seeing from him. Perkovic’s wrist is clearly bother him and that stops him from being able to shoot the everliving shit out of the ball like we’re used to seeing from him. When Denver has the ball for most of the game, Notre Dame has to be close to perfect on offense to keep up. I just don’t think they’re healthy enough to do that.
#3 Ohio State vs Duke | 2:30pm | ESPNU | Line: Pick ‘em
If there’s one piece of advice I could pass on to any newer lacrosse followers, it would be to never bet against Coach Danowski in the month of May. This is when Duke is at their best. This is the month where kids like Justin Guterding pop off for 10 points in an NCAA tournament 1st round game. Every single season that Coach Danowski makes throughout the year is in preparation for this weekend. It’s why Duke doesn’t do fall ball. It’s why they don’t really have any preseason scrimmages. It’s why they are perennially known for slow starts to the season. Danowski coaches for the month of May and you can’t confidently say that any team in the country has been playing better lacrosse than Duke over the past month.
With that being said, Ohio State has still been taking care of their own business. Last week’s game against Loyola was a bit of a snoozefest but that’s how you have to play a team like Loyola. You can’t get into a pissing match with them or else Pat Spencer will just go off for 3 and 4. It’ll be interesting to see how they gameplan for Saturday. Will they sit back and try to control the game through longer possessions? Or will they let kids like Tre LeClaire shoot the shit out of the ball and open up the game that way? I think they have to try to slow it down again but I think Duke’s offense is too efficient to get held to under 10 goals. It’s only happened once over the last 3 months. Guterding and Bruckner continue to get their points and Danowski heads back to Championship Weekend.
Sunday Games | University of Delaware
Quick little heads up. I’ll be at Delaware for both of these games on Sunday. Just in case any of you lax rats out there want to have a toss or crush some Natty’s or just jam out to some OAR at halftime.
#2 Syracuse vs Towson | 12pm | ESPN2 | Line: Cuse -1.5
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This Syracuse team is the NBA of college lacrosse. The first 3 quarters in all of their games mean absolutely nothing. No matter what, they’re going to end up in a tie game with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter and then you can tune in from there. But everything that happens before that? Nothing more than a formality. They live and die by the 1-goal game.
I think if I’m Syracuse, I probably would have preferred to play Penn State in this round. Towson is much better defensively than Penn State and they can hang against guys like Salcido and Mariano. Syracuse is probably going to struggle to find that back of the net for a while and there’s not going to be any point in the game where they really pull away. Towson has only given up double-digit goals 3 times this year. And that’s what it’s going to take for Syracuse to move on to Foxborough. 10-9 game gets them a win. If it’s 9-8, well I can see that going either way. Regardless, it’s going to be a 1-goal game.
#1 Maryland vs #8 Albany | 2:30pm | ESPN2 | Line: Maryland -1
This is a lot like the Caps vs the Pens in the fact that this game is being played too early. This should be a Final Four game at the very least. If not a National Championship game. The fact that one of these teams isn’t going to championship weekend after this game is a farce. Because if the O/U being set at 26 wasn’t enough of a hint, this is going to be the most entertaining game of the tournament.
These two teams played each other on April 12th. Maryland squeaked out the 12-11 win. It was one of Albany’s only 2 losses on the season. Their 2nd loss was another 1 goal game to Syracuse. And this rematch on Sunday has everything you could ask for. It has the blue blood program in Maryland. Trying to make their 4th straight Final Four appearance. You’ve got the newcomers in Albany trying to get over the quarterfinal hump for the 1st time. You’ve got Tewaaraton Finalists Connor Fields for Albany and Matt Rambo for Maryland at attack. If you have somebody in your life who has never watched lacrosse before, have them tune into this game.
Like the Denver/Notre Dame game, I think this one just comes down to who can win the battle at the faceoff X. Both of these teams have offenses that can score at will. So if your team has the ball the most, there’s a good chance you get out of there with a win. Possessions are at a premium right now and I think Albany’s TD Ierlan gets the Danes the edge in that department. It’s equally as important for Albany to get the ball to Fields as it is to keep the ball out of Rambo’s stick. So Ierlan is the X-factor here and I see Albany getting their revenge.
Jordie’s Picks (4-0 last week, 34-10-2 overall)
The picks for last week were Bryant +5 against Maryland, they came back to only lose by 3. Yale +2 against Syracuse. Clearly that was only going to be a 1-goal game. Duke -1.5 over Hopkins. Obviously Hopkins was severely overrated. And Albany over UNC. They gave us a bit of a scare in that 2nd half but they held on to advance. This week we have…
- Towson +1.5 against Syracuse
- Denver -1 over Notre Dame
- Albany +1 over Maryland
Final Four Prediction: Albany, Denver, Duke Syracuse
P.S. – We’ll see the new Cascade S in action this weekend for the 1st time. Towson, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Albany and Maryland are all Cascade schools. Here’s a look at some of the ones we’ll see.
Here’s a little fun fact for all you boys and girls at home. With the Cascade S coming out this year, that means that no team in NCAA DI Men’s Lacrosse history has won the National Championship in the Cascade R. 2016 was UNC with STX. 2015 was Denver with Warrior. 2014 and 2013 were Duke with Warrior. And 2012 was Loyola with Warrior. Virginia was the last National Champion to wear Cascade but they were in the Pro7’s. Just a little something to keep in mind this weekend.