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NCAA D1 Lacrosse: Things To Watch For In 2012

2 - Published January 13, 2012 by in College, NCAA

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Lacrosse practices have started up for squads like Army, Drexel and Maryland, amongst others, and it’s got us seriously thinking about what is in store for the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse Season in 2012.  Who’s rising?  Who’s falling?  Will the ACC continue to take up 4 of the top spots each week once the season actually kicks off?

Check out my Things To Watch For in 2012:

The Polls will fluctuate greatly, starting… immediately.

Army takes on UMass in less than a month, and the Black Knights will face ‘Cuse only two weeks later on Feb 26th. Cuse plays UVA on March 3rd, and Virginia OPENS the season with Drexel… which should be a hell of a game.  Hopkins’ first game is on Feb 17th, and they play a rapidly improving Towson. Meanwhile UNC gets going almost a week earlier with Penn State on Feb 11th, and who knows what could happen there?! Duke will face Notre Dame and Penn in less than a week and all before Feb 25th. The list goes on and on.

Many top teams will be tested early, and there will definitely be some surprises! Look for the D1 rankings to get shaken up very early on this year.

Maryland will be ranked Number 1 early in the season.

The Maryland Terps play Hartford, which will be a stiff test, and then they’ve got Georgetown before they face ACC rival Duke.  I expect the Terps to win their first two games in a tighter manner than expected. Then they’ll to come out and beat Duke at home in a thriller.  After that they face UMBC, Marist and Villanova.

I think they can win all of those games, and if they do, I could easily see them taking the NUMBER ONE spot in the polls. Especially if UVA drops an early game to Drexel, or if Hop gets upset by Towson.  Maryland’s biggest obstacle will probably be Cornell as the Big Red don’t have a real test (at least hypothetically) until they play Army on March 3rd.

And following up on that Maryland prediction, I have another Terptastic pick for you…

The Maryland/Hopkins game will feature TONS of exciting new gear.

It’s probably the most recognized college lacrosse rivalry game in the country. In the past we’ve been treated to all kinds of new gear, but in 2012, I can see both Under Armour (based in Baltimore) and STX (based in Baltimore) taking this game to the next level. When it was an all-STX game, we still saw new gear. Now that there are two companies vying for Maryland lax supremacy you just know it’s going to get kicked up a notch.

BAM!  April 14th, 2012. Mark it down on the old calendar.

Mercer will make people think twice.

Mercer didn’t win a D1 game last year… they didn’t even come within 3 goals of winning one. But 2012 will be a new year for the Bears. They’ll have new gear courtesy of Gait and be at least TWICE as good. Here’s why:

Last year they were a team of freshman playing Division 1 lacrosse.  There was almost NO ONE to lead these kids by example and they were thrown into the fire in a harsh way. Well, now those freshman are back as sophomores and things in Georgia are looking up. There is a little buzz on campus about the team, the talent is increasing, they’ll now have two classes of kids to pick from, and one of those classes has some experience!

I expect Mercer to be MUCH more competitive this year.  If they’re going to win some games, look for it to happen against Michigan, Holy Cross, Wagner or VMI. Air Force and St. Joe’s are possibilities too.

A good D1 team in Georgia would be great for the growth of lacrosse. I’m hoping to see it happen!

Syracuse will struggle early, then gel, then go on a SERIOUS run.

The goal at ‘Cuse is never to rebuild, it’s always to reload. For decades they seemed to have had a lock on talented recruits and transfers, and when one stud graduated another just stepped into his place. The machine kept on chugging along and racking up Championships. However, as lacrosse talent has spread across the country a bit more, Cuse is no longer THE top option for many (though it’s still one of the top choices).

The Orange have been forced to do some things differently.  They’ve changed up how they played in the past and are now moving star players to different positions mid-career.  They’re finding new players in new places and getting creative. Don’t get me wrong, Cuse has some serious talent (and even more speed in the midfield) this year so I think they’ll be dangerous.  But it wouldn’t surprise me to see them take a month or two to really click.  When they do?  Watch out.

You will see more obnoxious helmets this season than ever before.

We love a good helmet wrap, but when it’s done wrong it can be disastrous.  I’m sure we’re going to see some great helmets this year, but I’m also positive we’ll see some major duds.  What we do know is that lacrosse programs are beginning to realize how important their look and gear are, and we’ve yet to see which team has the best fashion sense.

Look for Princeton to have a rough year.

The Tigers just lost one of their best offensive players to Maryland in Chanechuck, and they have an incredibly tough schedule.  Manhattan, Rutgers and Dartmouth look like very winnable games for Princeton, but other than that… it could get rough.

Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Brown and Penn will all be really tough games, and it doesn’t get any easier out of conference with Syracuse, Hofstra, Hopkins, UNC and Villanova.  Could Princeton go 3-10 in 2012?  That would be crazy.

Gerry Byrne will be offered a Head Coaching job somewhere prominent, but he’ll turn it down.

Heck, this could have happened already! Gerry Byrne was the assistant coach of the year last year, and he does an UNREAL job promoting Notre Dame lacrosse. If schools aren’t coming after Coach Byrne (who’s an ND alum, by the way) with their head coaching job then they’re crazy.  He’s a game changer! That being said, I expect him to stay with the Fighting Irish for years to come – he just seems to genuinely love South Bend.

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