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Virginia 2006: The Best Ever?

Where does Matt Ward & Co. stack up?

Inside Lacrosse is running an interesting opinion piece on its website. The piece, penned by Syracuse alum John Jiloty, poses a very simple question: whether this year's edition of the Virginia Cavaliers is the strongest collegiate lacrosse outfit ever.

Jiloty notes, in pertinent part:

“I think it’s going to be hard to run a table like this,” said Virginia assistant Marc Van Arsdale. “Kevin Corrigan said to me recently that he thought we had the most dominant regular season that he could remember and that goes back 12-15 years. I would probably concur on that. It’s going to be harder to separate yourself from the pack.”

In looking at the NCAA’s all-time margin of victory stats, Virginia’s 8.24 goals a game ranks 14th. Syracuse’s 11.31 during 1990’s undefeated run to the national title tops the list and makes that Orange squad most everyone’s pick for the NCAA’s greatest lacrosse team ever. But among the top 20 teams on the list, just one (the 1996 Princeton championship squad) has come since 1991.

Correspondingly, Virginia becomes the NCAA’s 12th undefeated national champ, but just its third since 1991. Princeton in 1997 and Hopkins in 2005 are the others. (Hopkins had to win five one-goal games last year to emerge as national champs and doesn’t often pop up among discussions of the sport’s historically great teams.)
From a personal perspective, I am not sure where the 2006 Cavaliers fall in the conversation. Off the top of my head, I would definitely put the 1990 Syracuse Orange ahead of Starsia's bunch and probably the 1997 edition of the Princeton Tigers and the 1988 Syracuse Orange. As for some of the older Cornell and Johns Hopkins clubs that dismantled their opponents, they too may be ahead of the 2006 Virginia Cavaliers.

Obviously, some serious research needs to take place before any kind of list may be made. However, it appears clear that Virginia has etched itself into at least the top ten and, possibly, into the top five. There are only so many teams that can become dominant in an age of parity, and the fact that the Cavaliers were able to do that this season is a testament to Virginia's greatness.

Syracuse: The University of Losing

Shit.

Virginia Slams Syracuse, Earth Spins on Axis
Boxscore

Syracuse Post-Standard staff writer Donna Ditota's lead in today's edition effectively sums up Syracuse's performance yesterday afternoon against Virginia:

Syracuse ran out of miracles when it ran into a lacrosse juggernaut.

Top-seeded Virginia rode the tidal wave of a 9-2 start in Saturday's national semifinal to roll over the No. 5 Orange 17-10 and advance to Monday's NCAA Division I title game against Massachusetts.

SU, which lifted itself off the canvas of an early 1-4 start, gamely fought back Saturday and trimmed the deficit to 10-7 at halftime.

But the Cavaliers' brutally quick display of offense and their heady array of scoring weapons doomed the Orange on a day when SU needed to play nearly flawless against the nation's best team and did not.

"We dug ourselves too big of a hole against a good team and you can't do that against a team like this," said SU defender Steve Panarelli. "You just make it too hard on yourself."
From the perspective of my possession-based "victory factors," Syracuse was fairly competitive:

Victory Factors: SYR v. UVA
StatSyracuseVirginia
Poss.4042
Sht%25.0040.48
Sht/Poss.1.001.00
G/Poss.0.250.40

Unfortunately, the "victory factors" fail to adequately illustrate why Syracuse lost on Saturday. While much of the blame for Syracuse's poor performance is attributable to the Cavaliers' relentless offense and the Orange's continued lunacy clearing the ball from its defensive end (which is depicted in the abovenoted stats), Peter Coluccini's cold start in net ultimately doomed the Orange.

The following three points buttress this conclusion:

  • Virginia scored eight goals on its first eight shots;
  • Coluccini, the young yet promising goaltender for Syracuse, did not record a save until the 10:22 mark of the second quarter; and
  • Virginia scored 10 goals on 21 first half shots.

Had Coluccini been functional to start the game, there is a very good chance that the Orange could have pulled out the miraculous victory. Syracuse trailed by only three tallies at the half and only four goals at the close of the third quarter. With a stronger performance in net, there is no reason to believe that the Orange could not have forced a dogfight.

49,562 Fans Cheer Not Hopkins

Staaaaaate school . . . staaaaaate school.

It's official: lacrosse is no longer a fringe sport.

Logging its fourth consecutive year of semifinal attendance figures north of 45,000, the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships has become one of the best attended collegiate events in the country as well as a burgeoning fixture in the consciousness of a nation.

With championship weekend returning to Baltimore next year and Foxboro in 2008, the joy that is Final Four weekend should continue to blossom into a terrific event paralleling, if not surpassing, the College World Series. There is no ceiling to the popularity of America's first game, and if you have not yet exposed yourself to lacrosse, there is no better time than 1:00 Monday afternoon.

Post-Spring BlogPoll Roundtable

With my juris doctor securely in hand and some free time before all-out preparation for the Connecticut bar examination begins, I thought I'd take a minute and participate in Burnt Orange Nation's Post-Spring BlogPoll Roundtable.

For those that are unaware, the BlogPoll Roundtable is a somewhat regular discussion of issues concerning college football. Those participating are members of MGoBlog's BlogPoll, a collection of college football bloggers spanning the nation, populized (albeit begrudingly) by mostly Big Ten and Georgia writers.

Which offseason story are you most tired of, and, on the flip side, interested in? (e.g. Reggie Bush's house, Jimmy Claussen, etc.)
In short, I am incredibly tired of anything to do with recruiting. As I have noted before, I think that recruiting is one of the scummiest and pointless exercises engaged in by modern man. It truly makes me sick, especially because Syracuse is so bad at it.

The story I am most interested in is the Fulmer Cup. Every Day Should Be Saturday does a great job of tracking the stupidity that pervades college football. With three months remaining until the gridders are distracted with classes, practices, and games, more fireworks are sure to light up the summer sky.

Your head coach comes down with a mystery illness and has to step aside. You get to hand pick the replacement for the 2006 season. Who gets your vote?
I guess this is a two-prong question.

First, if Greg Robinson came down with a mystery illness (such as chronic losing) and the selection needed to come from the current coaching staff, the pick would have to be new offensive coordinator Brian White. As one of the architect's of Wisconsin's heroically efficient offense, White has all the tools necessary to bring success to the Orange. He's seasoned, he knows how to develop players, and, most importantly, the players appear to respect him.

If the selection could come from anywhere in the college football universe, the pick would have to be Steve Spurrier. Spurrier walked into a difficult situation at South Carolina and brought them from terrible to mediocre in just one season. Given the fact that Syracuse probably isn't that far away talent-wise from South Carolina at the onset of 2005, I would feel very confident that Spurrier could lead Syracuse to, at a minimum, the upper crust of the Big East, if not the top.

Morever, Spurrier is super interesting. This stands in stark contrast to Greg Robinson, who's personality rivals that of corrugated cardboard.

Lastly, we'll mix the football and the blogging together here. If you could have anyone switch allegiances and start covering your team, who you gonna pick?
Let me just say that there are a host of awesome bloggers penning pieces on college football. Instead of going through an exhaustive list of writers that are better than I (of which there are tons), I'll just boil down the answer to whom I believe would fit the Syracuse blogger profile perfectly: Brian Cook.

When I first read MGoBlog, I was almost positive that Brian had some roots at Syracuse University. His cynicism, critical tone, and affection for blaspheming the very university he identifies himself with encapsulates the Syracuse tradition. He pulls no punches, is well-written and read, and generally updates his blog on a somewhat regular basis.

In short, he's the tops and would be a welcome addition to the Syracuse blog community (which, for the record, appears to be only me).

The Orange::44 Pick 'Em Challenge



Is Massachusetts really playing for a
national championship without Marcus Camby?

Well, last week did not bode well for me. After finishing week one with the lowest point total amongst the competiting prognosticators, I managed to match my own stupidity with a powerful six-point performance, thus relegating myself to the basement of this little exercise.

Don't you wish you were me?

Brian Harrison, who managed to excise himself from everything lacrosse following week one (read: he thought Georgetown had Notre Dame in the opening round), managed to pull the only perfect score of the competition, correctly guessing all the games from last weekend. He is now tied with super cynic Collin Long for the lead in the contest.

The rules for this weekend are going to be modified for the sake of my own mental health. Given the fact that virtually everyone will be in Philadelphia for the games this weekend consuming copious amounts of fermented beverages, the prognostication rules must change a bit. For the semifinal rounds, predictors will make selections the same way as they did over the last two weeks. For the finals, however, the selector will only pick who he believes will win the national championship based on their semifinal picks.

For example, if I pick Virginia to beat Syracuse and Maryland to beat Massachusetts (which I did), I must pick between Virginia and Maryland for the national championship. This is true regardless of whether Virginia and Maryland actually advance to Memorial Monday.

With that said, on to the picks.

Pointless Speculation: Final Four

GameGlaudePearsonHarrisonLong
Round 1 Totals29313134
Round 2 Totals35384141
Syracuse v. VirginiaUVA-2UVA-1--
Massachusetts v. MarylandMD-1MD-2--
FinalUVA-3UVA-3--

Glaude
Syracuse v. Virginia
Look, Virginia is far and away the strongest team in the country this season. The Cavaliers' offense is indicative of the Roy Simmons, Jr.-era Syracuse fun-and-gun attack. The defense, similarly, is stifling and makes for a lot of lopsided scores.

Syracuse, constrastingly, has been a two-face this season. Starting out 1-4, it was looking like the Orange::44 jinx was in full throws. Following a stretch of nine straight wins, however, the Orange look every bit the title contender it was supposed to be at the outset of the season.

What does this all mean? I have no fucking clue.

Head says: "Pick Virginia, dumbass."
Heart says: "Pick the Orange, sweetcheeks."

I guess I'm going with Virginia, even though this pick will subject me to unsubsiding ridicule from my peers.

Massachusetts v. Maryland
Brian Crockett, senior attack/midfield for the Orange, said it best:

"I don't know a lot of (the UMass) players personally, but the ones I do know, I don't like. The team in general, I don't really have a whole lot of respect for them, and I want to beat them pretty badly."

Good enough for me. Maryland wins.

Championship Monday
Ideally, in this space would be an opus to why a particular team will win the national championship. However, a treatise is not necessary. Rather, only eight words are necessary:

Virginia is the best team in the country.

If Duke had a program that wasn't on the shelf, this assessment may be different. But as things stand right now, nobody should touch Virginia if the Cavaliers manage to get by the Orange on Saturday.

Pearson
Syracuse v. Virginia
Oh man, I hope this game resembles the one SU and UVA played earlier this year. I believe that final was 20-15. No pressure on me, but SU is 3-0 in semi-final games that I make it to on time and 0-1 in semi-final games I show up late to (Stupid Raven's Stadium). Looks like 40 mile drive from my parents place to the Linc will be crucial Saturday morning.

Massachusetts v. Maryland

Fear the Turtle

Championship Monday
Hoos from Hoo-ville

Harrison
Syracuse v. Virginia
[Eds. note: Explanations pending.]

Massachusetts v. Maryland
[Eds. note: Explanations pending.]

Championship Monday
[Eds. note: Explanations pending.]

Long
Syracuse v. Virginia
[Eds. note: Explanations pending.]

Massachusetts v. Maryland
[Eds. note: Explanations pending.]

Championship Monday
[Eds. note: Explanations pending.]

Championship Victory Factors

Finally!
The field is officially set. Emerging from the top side of the bracket are nine/ten-time national champion Syracuse University and three-time national champion University of Virginia. Saturday will mark the first time since 2002 that Syracuse and Virginia have met in the NCAA Championships. Syracuse won that game 12-11 in overtime on a miraculous Tom Hardy goal.

University of Massachusetts and University of Maryland fought their way through the bottom portion of the bracket to claim their positions in Philadelphia. This is the Minuteman's first appearance at the Final Four. Maryland, constrastingly, is seeking its third NCAA crown (the first since 1975).

Syracuse v. Virginia

Victory Factors: Team Offense
StatSyracuseVirginia
Poss/Gm38.3645.71
Sht%30.7831.96
Sht/Poss0.9981.06
G/Poss0.310.34

All the talk this week is centered on the explosiveness of Virginia's offense and whether Syracuse will go toe-to-toe with the Cavaliers again. To cut right to the point, nobody (not even the vaunted Syracuse run-and-gun) can match Virginia's frenetic pace this season.

The number of weapons Virginia trots onto the offensive side of the field is almost unbelievable. Led by senior attack Matt Ward (33G, 25A), the Cavaliers' attack is relentless, outshooting their opponents by a wide margain this season. With secondary options in Ben Rubeor, Danny Glading, and Kyle Dixon, the Syracuse defense is going to have its hands full on Saturday afternoon.

What is truly staggering about the Virginia offense is the number of offensive possessions the team generates on a game-by-game basis. At almost 46 possession a game, Virginia outpaces its closest competition by a wide margin with regard to pace. If Syracuse were to try and match this frenetic tempo, it just may run itself out of the game, regardless of the fact that the Orange are about three offensive midfield lines deep.

Thus, the only real opportunity for Syracuse to stymie the Cavalier offense is to implement its Princeton-like offense. The Orange have flourished over the last two months with a more deflated pace and if the team is able to maximize its possessions, it necessarily deprives Virginia of the bean.

And that has to be a good thing.

Therefore, while everyone is anticipating an up-and-down style game, I would not be surprised to seek John Desko and Kevin Donahue slow down Syracuse's attack a little bit. If they don't, the Orange may lay the foundation for another 20-15 defeat.

Victory Factors: Team Defense
StatSyracuseVirginia
Poss/Gm38.4338.21
Sht%28.9524.07
Sht/Poss1.060.81
G/Poss0.310.19

With all the talk about Virginia's awesome attack, everyone has forgotten about the Cavaliers' defense. Playing the "Riverboat Gambler" style of defense invented by a host of Syracuse greats, Virginia has done a great job stripping the ball and creating transition offense.

Kip Turner, not surprisingly, has anchored the defense with sound goal tending and timely plays. It has been his steady, yet not overly impressive play that has led Virginia to its awesome defensive goals per possession average.

From the Syracuse perspective, Peter Coluccini is going to need to have a monster game to stop Virginia. The freshman netminder looked incredibly timid last Saturday against Johns Hopkins and is going to have to come out firing on all cylinders to stop Virginia's offense. If Coluccini goes in the tank early, doom will be looming for the Orange.

Outside of Coluccini, there is little to worry about with Syracuse's defensive midfield and close defense. Steve Panarelli has become the pole that everyone anticipated four years ago while John Carrozza has been borderline masterful with the short stick as of late. Should this unit turn in the same kind of performance they have over the last month, Syracuse will be in good shape.

Massachusetts v. Maryland

Victory Factors: Team Offense
StatMarylandMassachusetts
Poss/Gm36.8837.75
Sht%25.39921.43
Sht/Poss1.060.94
G/Poss0.270.28

I cannot reiterate enough that the Syracuse-Virginia game is truly the national title game. Both Massachusetts and Maryland are nice teams that have done some impressive things this season, but neither measures up to the Orange and Cavaliers. Virginia essentially bitchslapped the Terrapins twice this season while Syracuse took Massachusetts behind the woodshed in the Dome just a month ago.

In short, both UMass and Maryland may have a shot at winning the national crown, but if they do, it will be because either Syracuse or Virginia mailed it on on Semifinal Saturday.

With that said, Maryland and Massachusetts will feature two of the games finest offensive forces on saturday afternoon. For the Terrapins, Joe Walters is the cog that drives the machine. In my opinion, he is more than worthy of taking home this year's edition of the Tewaraaton Trophy and may just be the most dynamic player on the field over the weekend (with apologies to Brett Bucktooth, of course). The Maryland offense is built around Walters' creativity, and if he gets it going, Massachusetts is going to be in for a long morning/afternoon.

Massachusetts is very much an offensive opposite to Maryland. The Minutemen enjoy getting up and down the field and tossing what feels like a million shots on net. Led by senior Sean Morris, the Minutemen have the attack to counterbalance Maryland's paced play, it is just a matter of when and how the Massachusetts attack will come out of the gate. The last two weekends the Minutemen have been slow to start, relying on a flurry of offense down the stretch to pull out two miraculous wins. Morris and Co. will have to be better from the onset to win on Saturday as Maryland's offensive efficiency will drown Massachusetts quickly.

Victory Factors: Team Defense
StatMarylandMassachusetts
Poss/Gm32.3832.81
Sht%21.4324.39
Sht/Poss0.921.02
G/Poss0.1970.25

Massachusetts may have the nation's finest one-on-one defenseman in Jack Reid, but outside of him at pole, the Minutemen may have the worst defensive unit on the finals field. Maryland, constrastingly, boasts a defensive unit that simply goes out and gets the job done on a week-to-week basis. They are the quintessential hard hat and lunch pail type of defense.

The numbers bear out this assessment. Maryland is yielding only .197 goals per possession and less than a shot per possession. Moreover, the shots that Maryland's opponents are taking are not tickling the twine, as opponents are only shooting 21% against the Terps on the season. That's getting the job done.

Massachusetts, however, has not been quite as efficient. While the numbers above look good, one must remember that these statistics were tallied against competition much weaker than that seen by Maryland, Syracuse, or Virginia this season. That UMass defense is good, but it isn't as good as that thrown on the field by Dave Cottle.

Syracuse - 13, Hopkins - Sucks



Philadelphia, PA: Future Home of
Syracuse's Ninth/Tenth National Championship

It's official: All is right with the universe.

The Orange::44 Pick 'Em Challenge



Just one more week . . .

In what could have been a weekend wrought with upsets, only one team -- Massachusetts -- managed to unseat a higher ranked squad. The Minutemen stormed into Ithaca last Saturday afternoon and shocked much of the lacrosse universe with a 10-9 victory over the sixth-seeded Cornell Big Red.

This coming weekend should provide similar, exciting action on the field. With the exception of Hofstra-Massachusetts, there isn't a game on the board that clearly favors one team over another.

With that said, onto the picks.

Pointless Speculation: Quarterfinals

GameGlaudePearsonHarrisonLong
Round 1 Totals29313134
Hofstra v. MassachusettsHOF-4UMASS-1-HOF-3
Syracuse v. [Hate] Johns HopkinsSYR-2[H]JH-3-SYR-2
Virginia v. GeorgetownUVA-3UVA-4-UVA-4
Princeton v. MarylandMD-1UMD-2-UMD-1

Explanations
Glaude

Hofstra v. Massachusetts
Hofstra looked incredibly strong at the onset of their game against Providence last weekend. Although the final score appeared otherwise, the Pride were in control throughout, exhibiting a relentless attack and a stifling defense.

Massachusetts, however, appears to have thoughts of ruining Hofstra's terrific run. The Minutemen already upset the Pride earlier this season and are coming off a tremendous victory against tournament darkhorse Cornell. If Sean Morris can put this team on his back, Massachusetts could achieve the somewhat impossible.

With that said, however, Hofstra is just too strong. They are playing terrific lacrosse right now, have the poles to keep the Minuteman attack in check, and are playing only a few miles from their campus. Pride wins this one by about four goals.

Syracuse v. [Hate] Johns Hopkins
Dave Pietramala can lick my nuts. Syracuse wins.

Virginia v. Georgetown
All season Georgetown has been a bit of an enigma. The Hoyas have won the games they have supposed to have won and have looked average in many of their more difficult match-ups.

Virginia, alternatively, has been far and away the strongest team in the field this year. Their toughest game this year came out the outset of the season, when they outgunned a young Syracuse squad 20-15. To bet against the Cavaliers at this point would be foolish. However, don't be surprised if the Hoyas manage to keep it close.

Princeton v. Maryland
Joe Walters.

That's all I need to say.

Joe Walters.

Pearson

So Glaude's the lax expert and he's in dead last for his own Pick 'Em challenge. You're fired. Get on your bike, go work at Bazooka Joe! Seriously though, what's with his school's baseball team? Men in diapers? That's hazing?! I officially recommend he goes to Northwestern to get in on that hot girl swimmer on girl swimmer action. And on to the pointless picks!

Hofstra vs. UMass

They say its hard to beat a team three times in the same year. Fortunately for the Minute Men they've only beaten Hofstra once so far this year. Sully, Murph and the boys are gonna get wicked drunk on Sam Adams Summah Ale after this upset.

Manly Oranges vs. Lame Blue Jays

This one is a no brainer. I want Syracuse to win. Trust me, I've lived 15 of 24.5 years of my life in the Salt City. I know how these things work. I was there for the Sugar Bowl tie and the loss to the 15 seed Richmond Spiders. I watched in the Sweet Sixteen both the Lawrence Moten timeout game versus eventual champ Arkansas and the 23 point lead lost versus eventual champ Michigan St. I personally witnessed football road loses to Temple and Rutgers in 4 consecutive years. I'm a walking Orange(men) jinx.

Therefore, Hopkins will win. As soon as we get this over with, I can focus my energy on the Mets driving a dagger into my heart... and then its football season! Eli and Perry Patterson! Huzzah!

Warning: Actual Game Analysis

Look for Brett Bucktooth to score a bunch of goals. This guy has been playing out of his mind. He's got like 25 goals in his last 7 games or something like (I'd look it up, but thats way too much work). Apparently he had a son, Brett Jr., born a few weeks ago. So apparently he's pulled a Pittsnogle.

Virginia vs. Georgetown

Its great when you get down to the Quarterfinals of lacrosse and take a gander at the bracket and you're just like, "Man, I hate that team and that team and that team... oh and that team." The Hoos are good. They will win.

Priceton vs. Maryland

Same crap, different game. Fear the turtle!


Harrison


Long

A Respite From The Orange

Smigel + Conan = Television Genius
The YouTube! clip that appears below is of a television pilot shot in 1991 entitled Lookwell. The show featured Adam West as the program's title character, Ty Lookwell.

The premise of the sitcom is fairly straightforward. Lookwell, the former star of a television crime-drama entitled Bannigan, decides he wants to help the local police department solve actual, real-life crime.

While the fact that this pilot was shot is not particularly interesting, the fact that Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel created the program is. Unfortunately, the program never got picked up by a network.

Good Night and Good Luck



It's been real. It's been fun. But it hasn't been real fun.

With just one year of elibility remaining, Syracuse shooting guard Louie McCroskey has decided to transfer from the Orange to one of three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference institutions. As Post-Standard staff writer Kim Baxter reports:

McCroskey asked for and received the release from his scholarship last month and is looking to transfer from the Orange, according to Oliver Antigua, his high school coach at St. Raymond's in the Bronx who is helping him transfer.

"He's looking for a new start," Antigua said Tuesday evening. "He wants to start fresh. He wants to start a new chapter in his life. He appreciates the time he had at Syracuse. But I don't think he'd appreciate the role he'd be given going back there (next year). He felt it'd be a good time to depart."

Antigua said McCroskey is interested in transferring to Iona, Manhattan or Marist, all nearby schools to his native Bronx. The two toured the Iona campus Tuesday evening and plan on visiting Manhattan today and Marist on Thursday.
The most shocking aspect of the McCroskey transfer saga, however, is tied directly to this quote:
In his time away, McCroskey considered quitting the team, but he returned regardless, Antigua said.

"Louie was going to stop playing basketball," the coach said. "He just wanted to go to school. But we didn't want him, after the situation, to get up and leave (SU). We didn't want it to look like he was running away. He didn't want to be a bad teammate and leave his team. He felt bad because he thought he was being a distraction."
Who would have thought that McCroskey was such an academic? I give him credit for wanting to continue his academic responsibilities.

"'> 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.

Craig Littlepage Disease Redux
The selection committee sat down today, apparently sniffed an oil drum of rubber cement, and came up with this abomination of a tournament bracket. For all of those that are hyperallergenic to hyperlinks, the bracket looks as follows:

1 UVA
ND

8 Georgetown
Navy

4 Johns Hopkins
Pennsylvania

5 Syracuse
Harvard



2 Maryland
Denver

7 Princeton
UMBC

3 Hofstra
Providence

6 Cornell
Massachusetts
Needless to say, I am not thrilled with how this bracket was pieced together. It does prove, however, that it is possible for an NCAA selection committee to drop the ball not once, but twice in a span of three months. That's pretty impressive, considering prerequisites to sitting on one of these committees includes functional literacy and remedial reasoning skills.

I hope to have more on this later in the week.

Lacrosse Monday

Yes, Virginia, You Are Number One
Eds. Note: Yes, that headline is lame.

InsideLacrosse.com Media Poll
Once again, the Media Poll failed to have every media member vote as the total number of first place votes is fewer than 24. For all the other notable changes in the poll, check out the press release:

Baltimore, MD - Virginia retained the top spot in this week's Inside Lacrosse media poll after taking home the ACC tournament title with an 11-5 victory over Maryland. The Cavaliers received all 22 first-place votes.

Hofstra, riding a 14-game win streak, remained in second place, while Cornell moved up two spots to take the third position. Maryland and Georgetown each fell one spot to No. 4 and 5, respectively.

Navy, fresh off a Patriot League championship, occupies the sixth spot, followed by Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Princeton, and Penn.

Stony Brook was the only team to fall out of the rankings this week after coming in at No. 19 a week ago. The Seawolves suffered back-to-back losses to Hofstra and UMBC. As a result, Delaware re-entered the rankings after receiving votes last week.
1. Virginia (22)
2. Hofstra
3. Cornell
4. Maryland
5. Georgetown
6. Navy
7. [Hate] Johns Hopkins
8. Syracuse
9. Princeton
10. Pennsylvania
11. Towson
12. Denver
13. Massachusetts
14. UMBC
15. Notre Dame

USILA/STX Coaches Poll
Release of the Coaches Poll is pending.

Pointless NCAA Speculation
Over the course of seven days, little took place on the field of play to change my projections for the field of sixteen. The one modification I made was substituting Providence for St. Joseph's. The reason for the change is that St. Joe's was deemed ineligible to compete in the MAAC tournament due to some eligiblity issues currently surrounding the program.

As usual, I have utilized the multi-step selection criteria devised by the NCAA selection committee to create what appears below.

Automatic Bids
America East Conference: University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Colonial Athletic Conference: Hofstra
Great Western Lacrosse League: Denver
Ivy Group: Cornell
Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference: Providence
Patriot League: Navy

At-Large Bids
America East Conference: None
Atlantic Coast Conference: Maryland; Virginia
Colonial Athletic Conference: Towson
Eastern Colleges Athletic Conference: Georgetown; Massachusetts
Great Western Lacrosse League: None
Independents: Johns Hopkins; Syracuse
Ivy Group: Harvard, Pennsylvania; Princeton
Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference: Get Fucking Real, Douchebag
Patriot League: None

Seedings
1. Virginia
2. Hofstra
3. Cornell
4. Georgetown
5. Maryland
6. Navy
7. Syracuse
8. Princeton

Unseeded
1. Johns Hopkins
2. Pennsylvania
3. Massachusetts
4. UMBC
5. Towson
6. Denver
7. Harvard
8. Providence

Bubble Watch
Unless something incredible happens over the next couple of days, it appears as if nine out of the ten at-large positions have been filled. That leaves one lone position up for grabs. There are approximately eight legitimate suitors for that final playoff spot with Harvard currently the frontrunner for the position.

Army did much for its resume this past week by defeating Colgate on the Red Raiders' home turf in order to advance to the Patriot League championship game. A victory against Ohio State this week would certainly enhance Army's chances.

On the flip-side of Army's fortunes is Stony Brook. In just a span of five days, the Seahawks went from tournament curiosity to borderline bubble team. An 18-8 loss to Hofstra followed by a 20-9 loss to UMBC will do that.

The table below is organized with the most deserving team placed highest on the chart with the least deserving of the bubble teams placed the lowest.

"Bubble Watch" - 5.01.06
TeamRecordRPISOSQualityWins
Harvard6-514.6Stony Brook, Penn, Denver
Army8-61224Stony Brook, Colgate (2x)
Stony Brook8-61313State Penn, Denver
Loyola6-52612State Penn, Georgetown
State Penn8-42018Massachusetts
Colgate11-32142Navy
Notre Dame9-41525State Penn
Delaware11-42741None


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