Nothing says “let’s play some lax” quite like a casual March 10th snowstorm. As somebody who has sat the bench at the D3 level and has spent plenty a March 10th’s freezing my ass off on the sidelines, let me just tell you that this is quite possibly the worst weekend to be playing lacrosse. It’s March. You think that we’ve finally put winter in the rearview mirror. The weather has been great all week for practice. Guys are out there in shorts and short sleeves like it’s Memorial Day Weekend. Then out of nowhere the Northeast gets ass blasted by another snowstorm and you’re stuck having a play a game in this nonsense. The two biggest lies in the history of America are Bill Clinton saying that he did not have sexual relations with that woman, and that lacrosse is a spring sport. But anyway, the show must go on and here’s what the rankings are looking like heading into this weekend.
There’s A New Head Bitch In Charge
The biggest news here is that we have a new #1 team for the first time this season. Denver was on top of the poll for the first 3 weeks of the season but after losing to UNC on the 4th, it was going to come down to whoever won that Notre Dame vs Maryland game the same day for the new top spot in the rankings. Now if you remember last week’s weekend preview, I talked about what an incredible weekend of lacrosse we had ahead of us with 5 different top 20 showdowns. It was ridiculous that they weren’t able to get any of the games televised on actually TV but looking back on it now, it was probably for the best. Because #2 Maryland vs #4 Notre Dame was one of the sloppiest games top 5 matchups we’ve seen in a while. Obviously it was bitter cold out and that’s going to effect the way the guys play. But there were so many unforced turnovers that game that it looked like a men’s summer league game. Notre Dame was able to squeak out the 5-4 win though and that puts them at #1 with Maryland staying at #2.
More movement in the rankings has Penn State up to the #3 spot from 6 last week. They’re now 6-0 on the season and have the #1 point scorer in the country Grant Ament with 31 and the #1 goal scorer in the country in freshman Mac O’Keefe with 26. We’ve talked about these guys plenty and there’s not much to report on after their two wins since last week’s preview were a 1-goal win over Penn and a 2-goal win over Furman. But Penn State has earned that 3 spot and have a test against an undefeated Harvard squad this weekend but should come out 7-0. Princeton enters the top 20 after laying a SMACKDOWN on Hopkins last Friday thanks to Michael Sowers and Austin Sims shredding the Blue Jays defense. Rutgers moves up at the B1G now has 4 teams in the top 7. And BU gets to 6-0 but not a ton of love in the polls. So with the rankings all set, let’s take a look at whats on the schedule. All gambling odds, of course, are via @LaxVegasLines
Getcha Popcorn Ready
Not quite the lineup we had last weekend but still plenty of top 20 games to get your fix in this weekend. The biggest matchup of the weekend is Notre Dame at Denver but we’ll save the best for last. Especially since that’s a Sunday game. Right now we’ll focus on #2 Maryland taking a trip up to #9 Albany. Both teams are just 1 goal away from being undefeated. Albany lost their season opener 10-9 to Syracuse and Maryland lost last week 5-4 to Notre Dame. Other than that, Albany has whooped up on Drexel, Umass and Cornell. Combined, those 3 teams are 1-11 so clearly this is going to be a different test for the Danes. Maryland hasn’t had the toughest schedule either. Navy is in a down year, they beat St. Joe’s, High Point got a 1-goal win against a Yale team that has lost to Bryant and UMass (we’ll get more on Yale later). Now while I think that Maryland is the deeper team all across the field, this is the biggest home game in recent history for Albany. Maybe even ever now that I’m looking back on their past schedules. Hosting a top 10 matchup on their home field for the 1st time with a couple of cupcakes coming up after that. This is where Albany needs to go all in. They lost the matchup last year 10-7 in Maryland. The line is set at 3 for this year. I’m willing to bet my entire life on this game coming down to 1 goal given the combination of the energy Albany will be feeding off of AND the fact that they’ve been dominating in the faceoff X all year. When you have an attackmen like Connor Fields who is constantly finding new ways to score, and then a FOGO who can turn this game into a make it take it, that puts extra pressure on Maryland’s offense to score on every possession. That’s gonna be tough to do with the weather so put me down 100% for Albany covering and a 50/50 shot they come out of this one with the W.
Next up on deck we have a Battle of Balti with Hopkins taking a drive up N Charles St to Towson. We already talked about Hopkins getting smoked by previously unranked Princeton last Friday. You can blame that on anything you want but Princeton was just purely more dominant in that game. I still think that Hopkins is back and a legitimate top 10 team. But that doesn’t change the fact they got their asses handed to them. Meanwhile Towson will be the favorite to win the Colonial but they haven’t faced a winning program yet this year. 3-1 with their 1 loss coming to Loyola. Their next 3 games are Hopkins tomorrow, Ohio State on Tuesday and then Denver on the 25th. Ohio State has played strictly trash but they’re 6-0, Hopkins and Denver are Hopkins and Denver. So the next 3 games are sink or swim for the Tigers. In the end I see this being a bounce back statement win for Pietramala. But if this game were to come down to a Tilt-Off, I think we all know who would win.
Duke vs Loyola is going to be a good game and gives us Justin Guterding (31 points) vs Pat Spencer (30 points). But the fact of the matter is that it’s still too early in the season for Duke to really start getting good yet. They’re still at least a full week away before they go full Duke mode and start picking up wins against Cuse, UNC, Notre Dame and Virginia out of nowhere to get a top seed in the tournament. Loyola is definitely coming out on top here. Probably by 4 or 5.
Before we get to Notre Dame vs Denver, let me just say that I don’t know a ton about Rutgers or Stony Brook. Usually I’m pretty good at bullshitting my way through things but I just haven’t been able to watch a single second of either of them play. Rutgers is 5-0 and Stony Brook is 4-0. Rutgers is coming off a big win over Brown but Brown, just like Yale, is totally lost right now. Stony Brook also beat Brown and by beat Brown, I mean crushed them 25-17. So that’s a game I’ll be paying attention to just so I can get a grip on if either of them are for real or not.
We already talked about this up top but Notre Dame has taken the #1 spot from Denver this week after beating Maryland on Saturday, and Denver dropped down to #4 after losing to UNC. In 3 games so far this year, Notre Dame has only given up 19 goals. That 6.3 goals allowed per game is the best in NCAA DI right now. Usually when you think of Denver, you think offense just because they’re always so creative with the box infusion they have going on out there. But they hardly ever give up double digit goals and so far this year they’re sitting at 6.5 goals allowed per game. So for as great as guys like Connor Cannizzaro and Ryder Garnsey are, this game is probably going to come down to the battle at defense. Just looking at goal differentials right now, Denver is scoring 13.6 per game and giving up 6.8. Notre Dame is scoring 12.3 per game and giving up 6.3. About as evenly matched as it can get. I think my gut is telling me to go with Denver on this one though. They didn’t take advantage of the home field altitude last week against an ACC opponent. I think they catch a break this week with Notre Dame. Less of a hike for the Irish to get out there than UNC but Denver has only lost twice in a row one time since 2012.
Okay now a quick friendly message from me to Yale.
Because the fact that they’re still even ranked is a goddamn travesty. Over 6-0 Boston University? Over Richmond whose only loss is to Duke? Last week Yale was ranked #7. They then proceeded to lose 9-6 to Bryant. And then just in case you started to think that maybe that was a fluke, they lost 11-9 UMass. 2 times in 1 week a top 10 team lost to an unranked opponent. A team who wasn’t even receiving votes for the rankings. But sure. They’re the 15th best team in the country. Just wait. 2 weeks from today they play against Princeton. Watch as that Tiger offense puts Yale in their back pocket. They’ll probably come out and get a win over Fairfield tomorrow just because they desperately need one. But Penn, Princeton and Harvard are my top 3 teams in the Ivy right now. Almost back to normal once Cornell figures it out. And maybe I’m just pissed off at Yale because they ruined my perfect picks. Which brings us to….
Jordie’s Picks (3-1 last week, 7-1 overall)
Last week’s picks were 1) Penn State over Penn. They won 14-13. 2) Notre Dame +1 over Maryland, they won 5-4. 3) Syracuse +1 over Virginia. They won 14-13. And 4) Yale -3 over Bryant, they lost 9-6. So this week’s picks will be….
- Denver -1 over Notre Dame
- Albany +3
- Ohio State -8 over Cleveland State
- Loyola -2.5 over Duke
Thanks a lot for stopping by, guys. I know that was a fuck ton of words for a Friday afternoon but hopefully you could pick and choose what you wanted to read/ignore. If you have any suggestions on how you’d rather see this post formatted for future weeks, just let me know. I’m usually open to constructive criticism as long as you’re not a cock sucker about it.