May Madness is here. The NCAA Selection Committee has done their work. The bracket is announced. It’s time to pontificate here at Orange::44. While Syracuse dispatched St. John’s in the final contest of the regular season but rather than focus on that, or the virtually meaningless Big East Championship they won for the regular season, it is now for more interesting to dive into the bracket. I spent a few hours this afternoon combing through all the lax knowledge the internet has to offer in filling out my bracket and trying to justify who I think will win this thing. Turns out I didn’t need to. I picked Syracuse. But it isn’t a homer pick. It’s science! If you are slightly unfamiliar, all seeded teams have a home game for the first round. To the analysis.
#1 Virginia v. Mt. St. Mary’s – Virginia could show up with only half their players and win this one easy. No analysis needed. Thanks for stopping by St. Mary’s. Congrats on the bid and the MAAC Championship.
Denver v. #8 Stony Brook – Denver is on a nine game win streak and Denver traveled to Stony Brook earlier this year to earn a one goal victory. On top of that, Denver has a pretty good attackman in Mark Matthews and a good goalie in Peter Lowell. Denver pulls the upset and Stony Brook doesn’t get to advance to the second round home game. This should be the most competitive game of the first round.
#5 Duke v. Johns Hopkins – While Hopkins had an RPI in the top 15, there 7-7 record and efficiency numbers didn’t necessarily warrant an inclusion. But here they are and they are talented. However they are not as talented, nor nearly as fast and athletic as Duke. Meanwhile Duke has been in the top 10 for most of the year. Despite a bad start to the season they have only lost four games total and have probably the best attack unit in the country with the duo of Quinzati and Crotty. I think Duke will win this one, although the final will be closer than it should be.
Delaware v. #4 North Carolina – North Carolina has one of the best players in the nation in Billy Bitter. Delaware had a great season winning the Colonial League, but they lost to some teams they shouldn’t have, and North Carolina has only lost two games, both to tough teams in Virginia and Maryland. North Carolina will easily advance.
#3 Maryland v. Hofstra – The Pride, much like Delaware, have had a great season. Their attack unit is where the derive most of their goals, but their most notable wins this season are against Hopkins and Army. After that, the resume isn’t great. Meanwhile Maryland is 11-3 and made it to the ACC “Tournament” Final versus Virginia. This is clearly the second best team in the ACC right now and have an absolutely solid attack unit of their own. Deep enough that the second string could start most other schools. Maryland should win this one. PS – Will Yeatman still loves booze I would bet.
Notre Dame v. #6 Princeton – P’ton may have been smacked by Syracuse, but Princeton came to avenge a regular season finale lost to Cornell by a goal by beating them by a goal in Ithaca for the Ivy League title. Notre Dame straight outta the Big East is representing with a 7-6 record and get the at large nod due mainly to their early win over Duke. They also beat Loyola and so they squeek into the dance. But this team, despite having some moderate talent, is no legacy or powerhouse like Princeton. History alone would probably carry Princeton, but they are playing some of their best lacrosse lately, so Princeton should advance.
#7 Cornell v. Loyola – The Greyhounds didn’t qualify for the ECAC automatic bid and even lost their last two games of the season to Denver and Hopkins. Meanwhile, Cornell only lost by a goal to Princeton and beat them in the regular season. They also almost beat Syracuse, avenged a earlier lost to Brown by beating them in the Ivy Tournament, and have consistently been a top ten team all season. Oh and they also have a great goalie in AJ Fiore, who played a hell of a game against Syracuse earlier in the year. Look for the Big Red to advance.
Army v. #2 Syracuse – Forget the RPI and the SoS nonsense, the committee seeded the Orange correctly at #2 as they have been the second best team all season. Another regular season rematch in the first round, Syracuse defeated Army 12-7 earlier in the season. While Army’s goalie Tom Palesky was outstanding with 21 saves, Syracuse’s offense was just too much for Army. Similarly, they only allowed seven goals from Army. Look for a similar result in this one. Maybe even by a bigger margin as it will be the evening after Commencement.
Those are the first round matchups. Again I have Syracuse advancing to the National Championship to face Virginia and walking away victorious. My full bracket can be seen below. Tune in next week for full postgame analysis of Syracuse’s first round match, along with analysis of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Until then, enjoy some great lacrosse action, and Matt Glaude's continuing lacrosse analysis right back here at the blog that started all this SU nonsense.