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Who is the Big Ten Lacrosse Favorite?

The Big Ten Lacrosse scene is buzzing more than ever as we dive into the core of the season. Right now, the conference is rocking a solid 22-5 win-loss record. That’s pretty impressive, but we all know the real test begins when these teams start squaring off against each other. Up until now, it’s looked like anyone in the Big Ten could potentially snatch the conference title, and that’s saying something.

Coming into this, I’ll be honest, I was a bit skeptical. In my mind, Maryland’s been running the show in the Big Ten for a while. But looking back at the last few Big Ten Tournament champs – Michigan in 2023, Maryland before that, then Penn State and Johns Hopkins – it’s clear there’s been a decent mix of winners. This shakes up the narrative that it’s all Maryland, all the time. Post-season might tell a different story, sure, but the path to the Big Ten Lacrosse crown has had its share of twists and turns.

This season? It’s shaping up to be no different. Every team in the Big Ten seems to be leveling up, with none looking like they’re just making up the numbers. Take last year’s Michigan; they came out of nowhere in the postseason. And teams like Rutgers and Ohio State, who were kinda trailing behind last season, now look ready to throw down. Ohio State’s got a shot to prove themselves with big games against Notre Dame and Denver coming up, and Rutgers is about to test their mettle against Princeton.

But here’s the issue, while the Big Ten’s been tearing it up within its own ranks, the face-offs with the big guns outside the conference have been a mixed bag. Michigan and Ohio State got walloped by Virginia, Rutgers took a heavy hit from Army, and Johns Hopkins narrowly lost to Denver in OT. Even Maryland, usually a beast out of the gate, barely scraped by in overtime games against Richmond and Syracuse. You’d hope a conference frontrunner would clinch these kinds of games more convincingly.

Despite Hopkins dropping that game to Denver, they’ve stood their ground against solid teams like Georgetown, Loyola, and North Carolina. But the real test is still to come, with Virginia and Syracuse on the horizon. This is where the Big Ten’s predicament this season really comes into focus. What if Hopkins gets steamrolled by Virginia? That would put Virginia 3-0 against Big Ten teams. And if Maryland also slips against Virginia, it’s gonna be hard to make a case for the Big Ten when the NCAA Tournament selections come around.

The parity in Big Ten Lacrosse is double-edged. Sure, it means the competition is fierce and games are nail-biters, but it also means the conference might not look so hot on the national stage, especially if it can’t snag those big wins against ranked non-conference teams. When it’s time to pick teams for the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten champion and runner-up might be easy choices, but what about the rest? The conference could end up beating itself up during the regular season, making it tough to argue for more spots in the postseason.

At the end of the day, a competitive conference is awesome for fans and players alike. But if the Big Ten can’t start dominating those out-of-conference matches and then goes on to eat itself alive in regular season play, that’s not great for its national rep. It’s still early days, though, and every team has the chance to flip the script in the coming weeks. I’m rooting for Big Ten Lacrosse to pull through, but right now, I can’t help but worry it might fall short against those ranked opponents and then just turn on itself. Time will tell, and I’m here for it – hoping my concerns are just early-season jitters.