With the 2022 NCAA lacrosse conference tournaments starting, it only makes sense to look at both the favorites and the underdogs. This has been an extremely enjoyable season thus far and post-season tournaments looks to elevate the level of play to the next level. While there certainly are many favorites in each conference, there are many underdogs who could potentially pull off the upset.
While there is no ACC tournament due to the conference only possessing five teams instead of the required six, I still think it’s fair to discuss the NCAA tournament implications of the teams in question. The ACC has been confusing this season with some questionable in-conference losses all around. There are two or three teams in the ACC that may make it to the NCAA tournament with the potential to make a run, and we fell like those teams are worth discussing here. It is a shame there is no true ACC tournament.
The Cavaliers are the best team in the ACC at the end of the regular season. They have been dominant all regular season, suffering only three losses and have been equally dominant in conference play, with only one loss to Duke. They have all the pieces required to win in the NCAA postseason, but they simply must execute.
Underdog(s): Duke and Notre Dame
These two teams are clear underdogs in this conference with a shot of making the NCAA tournament. Notre Dame is currently on a four-game win streak which includes a key win over Duke in a 15-16 contest. On the opposite side, Duke has had some rocky conference play suffering losses to Syracuse and Notre Dame. It is unsure what the future has in store for these two teams, but I would not want to play Duke or Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament.
Vermont has shown dominance in conference play and has been on a six-game win streak after opening the season just 2-6. In their last six games, Vermont has scored nearly 100 goals and has been limiting opponents to ten or less goals a game. At this rate, the Catamounts are going to be a tough team to stop offensively in the tournament.
Underdog: Stony Brook
Stony Brook will be entering the tournament as another team to watch. Stony Brook opened their season strong with four straight wins before dropping some tough games against some nationally ranked opponents. They have since been on a four-game win streak with nobody left on the regular season conference schedule except for Vermont. They should be expected to make a deep run in the conference tournament with Vermont.
Utah has spent the last several years gradually working its name higher up in the lacrosse world and this year they had a tremendous breakthrough. Utah has put together an 8-3 season with multiple first-time program wins along with other statement wins against teams like Jacksonville, Vermont, and Robert Morris. This team is primed and ready to capture the ASUN conference championship this season.
Underdog: Air Force
Air Force opened up the season with a slow 0-4 start with some close losses against opponents like Denver and Colgate. Since the slow start, Air Force has bounced back and has been competing at a high level. Both conference losses come from Utah and Robert Morris by a combined total of three goals. It should be expected that if Air Force has another chance at these teams in conference play, they should come back stronger with a better chance for victory and capturing the conference championship.
This is an easy pick. One of the most historically dominant programs is having a historically dominant season. It would be unbelievable to not expect Maryland to not win the Big 10 tournament. They are beating opponents easily and the talent they have on the field comes in bunches. I cannot see many teams in the Big 10 with a chance to stop them.
Rutgers is another powerhouse program, but they simply do not possess the same level of talent that Maryland does. However, Rutgers has never avoided competition and has the best chance to give Maryland a run in the Big 10 lacrosse conference tournament. Rutgers touts a highly talented goaltender who can easily become a game changer for the Scarlet Knights in the tournament. Elite goalie play would be a must have if Rutgers were to have a chance.
The Ivy League has been an extremely fun and competitive conference to watch this year whether they are playing in or out of conference. Despite Cornell’s most recent two goal skid, they are extremely well rounded and talented across the field. This Cornell team is not unfamiliar with success and should have the leadership to bounce back from these late season hiccups and win the conference tournament.
Brown University has been hot down the stretch of the season and hot in the Ivy League. Brown brings some big wins from Cornell, Penn, and Yale along with a goaltender who has been playing extremely well. This kind of confidence along with an anchor in the net is exactly what is needed to propel Brown to a lacrosse conference tournament championship this year.
Army has been having an amazing season to this point. They carry a 10-3 record where the three games they lost totaling to a combined five goals. Army has an excellent offense, strong defense, and great leadership in order to bring them through the Patriot League lacrosse conference tournament with victory. This elite combination was just displayed against Cornell University in a 17-10 victory. Army should have no issue competing for a conference championship after the regular season they just had.
Underdog: Boston University
Boston University has historically been known for shaking up the conference and that is exactly what I expect from them this year. While they have not always had the spotlight on them, Boston has been absolutely perfect in conference play this year and is coming off of a gritty 9-8 victory against Lehigh. Expect Boston to make an equally deep run in their conference tournament as well, which would be a huge achievement for the growing lacrosse program.
Jacksonville has been taking care of business this year. At 13-2, Jacksonville brings high profile and statement wins to the table, accompanied by only two losses. The only thing missing from the Jacksonville season is a conference championship. With Jacksonville on an eight-game win streak which includes wins over conference rivals Richmond and High Point. Jacksonville should be able to duplicate that same level of success in the tournament, and bring home the program’s first championship.
Underdog: Richmond Spiders
Richmond is one of the few teams who played Jacksonville close and they also took down the next strongest SoCon opponent, High Point, in commanding fashion this season. If Richmond can get a rematch with Jacksonville, they have the best chances to beat them out of anyone in the conference.