NCAA Men’s Division 3 Lacrosse is the largest Division in all of college lax, and the 26 team tournament is a reflection of that mass. There are a couple of no brainer, easy pick ‘em games early on, but after that, it usually gets pretty tight. The bracket is split into a North and South and until the Finals, games are played at the higher seed’s home field. The North-South division is done to control costs, but it also adds an element of regional cheering, which provides added excitement.
Both the North and South brackets have at least two teams that seem more than capable of winning it all, and for the first time in years, I can’t decide which one looks tougher.
Salisbury, Stevenson, and Dickinson are my top 3 in the South, but any of them could fall before they see one another. The inclusion of Springfield and Endicott in the South, and Denison and OWU in the North, is puzzling to me still. The math works out when it comes down to mileage for the second round games, but come on, Massachusetts is clearly in the North. And both Endicott and Springfield are in Massachusetts.
Roanoke and Gettysburg could provide tough challenges and win some games, and if there IS a game down South to look out for, it has to be Colorado College – Roanoke. CC is undefeated, but really hasn’t played anyone. This game will be talked about in Pool B conversations for YEARS, so I’m really pumped to see what happens. My gut says Colorado College can keep it close but in the end, lose 13-10 or so. I just don’t think they’ll be ready for the up-tick in talent and pressure. Hope they prove me wrong though!
It just seems like an unnecessary switch, but it’s really minimal, and possibly the only mistake the selection committee made. Some will gripe about Trinity being excluded, and even though they played a lot of good NESCAC games, their OOC schedule was extremely weak. It’s all about SOS. Well, not ALL about SOS, but it’s important.
In the North, RIT took the top spot with Tufts and Cortland following close behind. I think. Or it’s Cortland – Tufts. The selection show wasn’t really great with the whole seeding thing, but I digress. It will be a tough road for any of these teams as Amherst, Stevens, Denison, Middlebury and Naz can run with anyone on a good day. Keene could be a surprise if Amherst looks past them, but they probably won’t.
I like Tufts and RIT to get to the Final Four in the North and Salisbury and Stevenson to get their from the South. Yes, I know those are the top 4 seeds in the tournament. RIT has been able to win all year, and I think they’ll keep that up. Tufts has looked a little shaky lately, but I really think it’s just what they needed. They need to keep playing their up-tempo, create transition game and it will come. Defensively, it’s time for them to step up. And they know that. Stevenson has been on fire all year, even when they lose. I just don’t think there is another team in the South, other than Salisbury, that can contain them, or out gun them, consistently. Salisbury is the most disciplined team for me right now, and in the end, this makes them my favorite.
I’d love to see RIT pull it off and keep the title hot, and in new hands, but Salisbury seems disciplined, and focused. And come tourney time, that can be enough to pull you through to the end. Top it off with a set of extremely skilled players who love to play lacrosse the Salisbury way, and you have another title worthy team. It’ll be fun to see if they can pull it off!