There are four fantastic quarterfinal match ups going down this weekend in men’s Division 1 NCAA lacrosse! The winners go on to the Final Four, which will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Memorial Day Weekend.
I’ll run through all four games, giving my thoughts on each contest, and then picking a winner. Later this week, we’ll offer up another Pick ‘Em Challenge for YOU to test your predicting skills.
Denver Vs. #1 Loyola (Annapolis, MD)
The Denver Pioneers knocked off UNC in what might have been the best first round game of 2012. Denver’s offense was clicking, and their defense came up big when needed. Loyola used a strong second half to dominate Canisius, and they got scoring from their offensive players, as well as their longsticks. On defense, they Hounds tightened up and showed why they can straight up dominate games.
The match up here is therefore extremely interesting, and very hard to predict. Loyola can score goals, and they can do so as a team. And their defense is thing of cohesive beauty. But if there is one offense that can create confusion and mismatches for Loyola, it is probably Denver. When the Pioneers are patient, they can score with anyone, and I believe Tierney will have those boys primed and ready to go.
This game will come down to one major match up in my mind, and that is Denver’s defense. If the D shows up, and plays good team D, Denver wins. If they don’t show up, Loyola takes it by 3. I didn’t love Denver’s D against UNC, but UNC is stacked on offense, so I have to figure that in. Even though this is basically a home game for Loyola, I’ll take Denver by 1 in OT. All the Loyola Steves (you know who you are) hate me right now.
Maryland Vs. #2 Johns Hopkins (Annapolis, MD)
The other game to be played at Navy is Maryland – Hop, and this one is going to be great. Hop – MD in the regular season is always good, but in the playoffs it’s even better. I don’t want to hear one word about new gear for this game. Who cares? All that matters is the play on the field!
Maryland’s road tilt with Lehigh in the first round will prep them well for a Hopkins team that blew Stony Brook out of the water early. The crowd will be raucous, and Maryland will respond well to that, as they are a team that seems to feed on emotion. Hop is a little more level and consistent, but they bring it in big games, so expect an even game, with each team making some runs.
I think this game will be decided at the face off area, and in a unique way. Hop doesn’t have to kill it on face offs, but they do have to generate some transition goals there. 2 to 3 goals off the face off and Hop wins this one. Offensively, both these teams are stacked, but I think Maryland can be more explosive. I also like Hop’s D better. So in the end, it’s kind of a wash, and that’s why I’m keying on Hop face off goals as the number 1 difference maker. I might be wrong about that, as it’s an awfully specific call, but watch for it in the game! I like Hop to deliver and win by 2.
Colgate Vs. #3 Duke (Philadelphia, PA)
Colgate’s offense has seemed explosive as of late, even more so than it did in the regular season. The Raiders are generating a lot of good shot opportunities, and sniping nicely from the outside. Duke can extend defensively, and if they can disrupt Colgate’s offense, I actually think the Blue Devils can win by a decent margin.
Duke is going to score goals on Colgate. They’ll put up 12 or more… at least that’s the way I see it happening. So can Colgate match them in this department? I think they can, but a lot of their success will rest on the Duke goalie. If Wigrizer can stop outside shots, and the defense can pressure without overextending, Duke should be in the clear.
My heart tells me this game will be close, but my head is telling me Duke is ready to roll. I like the Blue Devils by 3 goals, around 15-12.
#5 Virginia Vs. #4 Notre Dame (Philadelphia, PA)
I had ND on upset alert last week, but they came through with flying colors, and won in typical Fighting Irish fashion. Virginia, on the other hand, almost dropped their game with Princeton before they eked out a 6-5 win.
My big question is, “can Virginia score on Notre Dame’s John Kemp?”
The Notre Dame defense creates bad shots, and Kemp is excellent. But the Virginia offense is filled with shooters, and also have a couple guys who can get it done on the run or off a dodge as well. Virginia’s stars should each rack up 1 to 3 points, and if their 5th or 6th men can also add a couple markers, the Cavs will be in good shape.
I believe the Virginia defense can play with the Notre Dame offense, and I know ND will be patient, so it’s possible we won’t see a ton of goals here. But if Virginia wants to win, they’ll have to make Notre Dame play THEIR game, and that means a bump up in scoring. Virginia will have create goals in transition, and be deadly on long possessions. If this game goes to double digits, I like Virginia.
And since Steele Stanwick is still playing, I like UVA to score 10 goals or more. Stanwick was covered well in the Princeton game (for the most part anyway!) and he’ll be hungry to be more involved and effective. He was actually pretty good against Princeton, but I expect him to better against the Irish. Virginia by 2, along the lines of 11-9.
So there you have it… all four NCAA Division 1 Men’s College Lacrosse Quarterfinal games previewed and predicted.
Think I missed something obvious? Have a different take on who the winners will be? Prove me wrong in the comments section!