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"'> The 2006 Orange::44 Pick 'Em Challenge

An Exacerbated Exercise in Genius
The field is set.

The caravans of SUV's are gassed and ready to roll.

This can mean only one thing: it's NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship time!

As any sporadic visitor to this notebook recognizes, I have quite the inflated sense of self-worth. Only on the rare occasion have I acted "humbled" or "overmatched." As a result, I'm pretty sure that my grasp of knowledge on the truly inane is paralleled by some but clearly surpassed by none.

Accordingly, I am going toe-to-toe with the stable of "writers" that "contribute" to this notebook. The challenge: to correctly pick more games than me. The prize: a whole lot of nothing.

In order to accomplish this task, the system incorporates weighted values. For each predicted winner there is an attached value corresponding to the number of games played each weekend. For games in which the prognosticator anticipates a victory but is less than confident in his predicted outcome actually occurring, a low value is assigned to the winner's column. For games in which the prognosticator anticipates a stone cold, lead pipe lock, a large value is assigned to the winner's column.

For example, Hofstra is squaring off against Providence this weekend. Given the fact that Hofstra is functional and Providence has trouble purchasing enough equipment for ten players, Hofstra is a decided favorite in the match. Therefore, a sage prognosticator would select Hofstra for the victory and assign a high value to the winner (such as a seven or eight). If Hofstra wins, that prognosticator is credited with the value he wagered on the game. If Hofstra loses, that prognosticator is credited with zero points and the world will cease to spin on its axis.

With this preface out of the way, on to the selections!





Pointless Speculation: First Round

GameGlaudePearsonHarrisonLong
Virginia v. Notre DameUVA-7Hoos-8UVA-4UVA-7
Georgetown v. NavyNAVY-2Gtown-1NAVY-2GTown-1
[Hate]Johns Hopkins v. Pennsylvania PENN-1JHU-5HOP-6Hopkins-4
Syracuse v. HarvardSYR-3SYR-4SYR-5SU-6
Maryland v. DenverMD-5Mary-6MD-8UMD-3
Princeton v. UMBCPRIN-6UMBC-3PRIN-1Princeton-5
Hofstra v. ProvidenceHOF-8Hostra-7HOF-7Hofstra-8
Cornell v. MassachusettsCOR-4Cornell-2COR-3Cornell-2

Explanations
Glaude
Virginia v. Notre Dame
There's only one team in the country that can beat Virginia right now. Unfortunately, that team has fired its head coach, has had two players arrested, and is no longer actively participating this season.

Virginia holds an advantage over Notre Dame in all three aspects of the game -- offense, defense, and its specialty units. With all of the Cavaliers' horses, it would not be surprising to see this game put in the books well before the halftime whistle. It happened to Notre Dame when the Irish traveled to play Hofstra. There's no reason to believe a repeat performance won't happen again.

Notre Dame's saving grace may just be Pat Walsh. Should the senior gunslinger get loose for about a seven-point game, Notre Dame could pull out an heroic victory (much to Ian's chagrin, I'm sure). However, given the fact that Virginia's defense has been as stout as its offense all season, even a terrific performance from Walsh may not be enough.

Georgetown v. Navy
There really is no reason to love Navy over Georgetown. In the team's regular season slugfest, the Hoyas threw haymakers all day, eventually sinking the Midshipmen 9-5. Moreover, Georgetown is riding a three game win streak into the tournament, topping functional clubs Massachusetts, Rutgers, and Penn State.

But the pick is Navy. It has to be.

At times this season, the Midshipmen offense has teetered between anemic and borderline remedial. However, only a fool would bet against powerhouse attackman Ian Dingman. Having the frame of a Canadian lumberjack and a deft touch around the cage reminescent of former Carthage High School linemates, Dingman has all the tools necessary to carry the Midshipmen back to the Final Four.

Plus, Navy has arguably the strongest netminder in the country in Matt Russell. And you can't argue against good goaltending at this stage of the season.

[Hate]Johns Hopkins v. Pennsylvania
Brain says: "Pick Hopkins, dumbass!"

Gut says: "Pick Hopkins, dumbass!"

So I'm obviously going with Penn. The only basis I have for this pick is that I'd rather drink bleach than show even a modicum of affection for the Blue Jays. The numbers, the performance on the field, the talent . . . it all favors Hopkins.

And I'm going with the Quakers.

Syracuse v. Harvard
The "Crimson" v. The "Orange." A virtual smorgasbord of political correctness.

I don't know how trendy a pick Harvard is amongst the talking heads on television and the goons in print, but the Crimson are a dangerous club. Sitting at 6-6, Harvard has quality wins over Pennsylvania and Denver and questionable losses to Fairfield and Dartmouth. With such a resume, the Crimson are poised to either self-destruct or ruin Syracuse's season.

With that said, I do not believe that Harvard will have the horses necessary to compete with the surging Orange. Syracuse has dispatched every opponent it has seen over the last month, and given the fact that Harvard plays a similar game to the Orange's most recent victim (Colgate), it would take a notable feat of stupidity to pick against alma mater.

Maryland v. Denver
The cards are stacked against Denver: (1) first NCAA tournament appearance ever; (2) must travel like 100,000,000 miles to play against one of the most efficient offensive outfits in the country; and (3) this isn't hockey.

Conclusion: Denver folds and Maryland wins in a blowout.

Princeton v. UMBC
There isn't enough money in Scrooge McDuck's vault to make me watch this game.

Princeton wins.

Hofstra v. Providence
Here's the saddest part of this matchup: even if this game was played on the hardwood, I'm not sure that the Friars would win.

In fact, if Providence wins this game, I will dedicate a blog solely to Friar lacrosse and will attend at least two Providence home games next year.

Cornell v. Massachusetts
Everyone knows the bastardized version of Boston College's fight song:

For Boston,
For Boston,
The Outhouse on the Hill. (and so on and so forth)

The University of Massachusetts, however, has quite the bastardized version of their anthem as well:

Eat shit and die, Massachusetts,
Eat shit and die, dirty scum. (and so on and so forth)

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing. Cornell in a rout.

Pearson
Hey, that's me. Back in the saddle, analyzing a tournament I've done no research for. My lax knowledge for the year stems from Post-Standard articles and driving to Baltimore to see SU get waxed by the Blue Jays. Therefore I am the smartest man alive!

Virginia v. Notre Dame
UVA is undefeated for a reason. Mainly because they've scored more goals than their opponents. I'm taking the Hoos from Hoo-ville... to roll all the way to a national championship. Fortunately that game is being played in Philly, so with any luck there'll be a D cell battery give away that night.

Navy vs. Georgetown
Hoya! Saxa! God, I hate those kids. Why in the world does the SU alumni club of DC watch games in Georgetown? I blame Jughead.

Syracuse vs. Harvard
These two teams had 3 common opponents this year: Umass, Princeton and Cornell. Three wins for the 'Cuse and three loses for the "wicked smaht" kids. SU is 16-0 all time in this series, but the two teams haven't met since I was 2. I told you I read the Post-Standard. "...keeping you connected... yeah... syracuse.com!" I like the Orange, but if Harvard does well on the faceoff "X" and SU is their usual stupid self clearing the ball, look for this game to be real close.

Johns Hopkins vs. Penn
I hate Hopkins. I even hate their stupid name. How many damn "s"'s do you need in your name? Were there 2 guys named "John Hopkins" and they decided to get together and make a stupid school? Since I've got the anti-Midas touch when it comes to sports, look for the Hopkins to beat my beloved Orange in the second round.

Hofstra vs. Providence
Here's the saddest part of this matchup: even if this game was played on the hardwood, I'm not sure that the Friars would win. In fact, if Providence wins this game, Glaude will dedicate a blog solely to Friar lacrosse and will attend at least two Providence home games next year.

I had nothing interesting to say about this game, so I thought I would copy and paste what Glaude wrote. Remember when God Shamgod played for the Friars basketball team? Good times. Hofstra will win.

Massachusetts vs. Cornell
Wasn't sure what to make of this game. I thought about making a cheap "Gorges" joke, but I might be above that. Man, I hate driving to and around Ithaca. There's 1 stupid road through the back woods of NY and then once you get into town they've had a lane of traffic in each direction closed for construction for God knows how long. There are 18 cars within 10 square miles and they're all sitting at the traffic light right in front of you. I look for the big red to win this one.

Man, what's with the pent up anger in this post? I'm turning into Maddox.

UMBC vs. Princeton
Upset special! All I know about UMBC is I heard them playing Maryland tough when they announced the out of town scoreboard at the SU/JHU game I went to. Good enough for me. Anything to make Princeton alumni cry into their brandy snifters.

Denver vs. Maryland
Here's everything you need to know about NCAA lax: It's rigged so the same schools win. Why? There are only 35,000 people who will buy tickets to the Final Four. All of those people happen to live somewhere between Syracuse and Raleigh. Thanks for playing Denver. Say "hi" to 'Melo for me.


Harrison
Virginia v. Notre Dame
Notre Dame is clearly outmatched in this game. Virginia is undefeated and would have to have a pretty scary and epic breakdown of every aspect of their game to lose before reaching Philadelphia.

Georgetown v. Navy
In my opinion this is one of the two most interesting match-ups for the first round. Both teams have a lot going for them. Navy has an outstanding goalie in Matt Russell, but G'Town has momentum going into the tournament, and a decent resume. I have to say that the Midshipmen will take this one, but I think the game will come down to the wire.

[Hate]Johns Hopkins v. Pennsylvania
Perennial powerhouse. It is what it is.

Syracuse v. Harvard
Going with the hometown heroes on this one. Harvard isn't as good as people say. Syracuse is also on a 7 game win streak heading into this tournament, including wins over #6 Princeton, #4 Cornell @ Cornell, and #11 UMass. Two words: COME ON!

Maryland v. Denver
I really didn't think we'd see a west coast team play in this tournament in this decade but it happened. Needless to say they will lose. Congrats on making the tourney for the first time though.

Princeton v. UMBC
Princeton is good. At 10-4, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County has a decent record, but it sounds more like a spin-off of Homicide: Life on the Street then a reputable lax squad that can go far in this tourney.

Hofstra v. Providence
Hofstra is pretty good, especially as of late. Providence isn't and should lose this handily.

Cornell v. Massachusetts
The other intriguing match-up of the first round, it should be a pretty good game. But I think the gays from Ithaca will pull it out.

Long

Virginia v. Notre Dame
Virginia will steamroll its way to Philadelphia, period. Notre Dame will be a nice warm-up for their second round match against Navy or Georgetown, both of whom are significantly more dangerous than the Irish. I expect the Cavs to open a large lead early in the first half (maybe even the first quarter) and simply cruise through the rest of the game.

Georgetown v. Navy
This is without a doubt one of the most exciting first round match-ups. Navy playing in Washington negates any homefield advantage the Hoyas have experienced this season at MSF, but I like the Hoyas anyway.

Johns Hopkins v. Pennsylvania
It amazes me that the Blue Jays enter this year's tournament as a #4 Seed. This is a team that lost 3 of its first 6 games, rebounded by dismantling... UNC and Mount St. Mary's (weak), and closed the season with 3 straight 1-goal victories. Hopkins' seed and opening-round match against Penn are gifts from the Selection Committee.

Living in DC affords me the wonderful opportunity to watch Hopkins highlights and interviews on Comcast's regional sports coverage. This team is cocky and totally complacent. While I'd like to imagine the Quakers have what it takes to catch an overly confident Blue Jays squad, it simply won't happen. Hopkins will advance to the second round.

Syracuse v. Harvard
If the Orange weren't foaming at the mouth going into this tournament I'd agree with Glaude and say this MAY be an interesting match. Since I'm not the Daily Orange, I'll stick with SU.

Maryland v. Denver
My hunches: Maryland is not as good as you think. Denver is better than you think. That said, the Terps are still better than the Pioneers and will advance.

Besides, how can you pick a team that calls itself DU, but is officially the University of Denver? Bizarro World.

Princeton v. UMBC
Satellite campus? I'll take the Tigers.

Hofstra v. Providence
I wouldn't pick PC if they were playing Jamesville-Dewitt High School. This is a no-brainer, which is why even Harrison picked it correctly. I'd also like to take this time to restate my disappointment in Hofstra for changing their mascot from the Dutchmen to the Pride.

Cornell v. UMass
While I curse the Selection Committee for dropping the Ivy League champs to a #6 Seed, I believe they presented us with one of the most interesting first-round matchups in recent years. Cornell has more to prove and is excellent at home, but UMass certainly is no cupcake. In the end though, the Big Red are on a mission and will not drop this game.

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