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Weekend Watchability

In the midst of the discussion about whether Syracuse's loss to Army was worse than the Orange's basketball loss to Richmond in the 1991 hoops tournament, a concerning argument trend emerged: That Syracuse's loss to Army couldn't be worse than the loss to Richmond because it was only a lacrosse game.


Look: I'm going to make this really easy for you. If you're a fan of Syracuse University, you need to follow its lacrosse team. Lacrosse is so intertwined with the Orange's athletic history that it's just as important as the university's successes and failures on the gridiron and hardwood. I think there are two circumstances that have relegated the lacrosse team to "second-class citizen" status among many fans: (1) People just don't understand the nature of the game; and (2) Fans are watching noncompetitive or boring games.

Luckily, there are people here to help you. With the entire tournament being broadcast on ESPN or its sister stations, you have the luxury of commentators explaining the game to you in very digestible pieces. So, rejoice: You no longer have to wonder why getting popped in the grill results in a stoppage of play.

Secondly, I've put together a quick formula that assesses the watchability of a lacrosse game. For realsies! The machines are going to be running our lives in the not-too-distant future anyway, so why not let a computer tell me which games will be the most interesting?

(Note: Robot lacrosse will become our national sport in 2035. Get on the New York 0100101's bandwagon now.)

The formula considers aspects of the game that I like best -- fast tempo, lots of scoring, great shooting, and general competitiveness. Defensive battles are fine sometimes, but let's face facts: I want to see scoring and running and unmitigated goalie abuse.

So, what you're going to do this weekend is pick out one of the games listed below and watch it. You're not going to play with your kid because all children do is poop and want things. That's not fun. In fact, even being aware that you have a child is the direct opposite of fun. Instead, you're going to crack open a beer, park your ass on the sofa, and thank the Lord and Internet that I exist.

Stony Brook-Virginia
Rating: 6.41

Tell the wife or girlfriend or whatever else you're sticking it to on a regular basis that you have plans on Sunday afternoon at 2:30.

Stony Brook-Virginia has all the makings of a monster lacrosse game: Big stars with big guns (you need to see Kevin Crowley), the small school-big school dichotomy, and a national curiosity surrounding both schools. While that should be enough to watch the game, there's more: This should be a fun game to watch!

The pace of the game should be around 70 possessions, which isn't incredibly quick but it is pretty good. Where this game really shines is the offensive prowess of both teams: Virginia is first in offensive efficiency and Stony Brook is fourth; the Seawolves are the most effective shooting team in the country and the Cavaliers is sixth. While Virginia's defense (and Stony Brook's lack of defense) could muddle the picture a little bit, the competitiveness rating for this game is pretty close to the other games on the board.

So, break out your Sunday pajamas and watch someone punch the final ticket available to Baltimore on Memorial Day Weekend.

Duke-North Carolina
Rating: 5.62

My gut tells me that this should be the best game of the weekend, but who am I to argue with a computer? A computer can do fractions really well; I just cross my eyes and pray for whole numbers.

What separates this game from Stony Brook-Virginia is that North Carolina isn't nearly the offensive team that the other three teams are. The Tarheels are eighth in offensive efficiency and only 27th in effective shooting percentage. If you want an easy analogy, North Carolina is similar to Syracuse in terms of offensive efficiency and shooting -- good, but not spectacular.

Still, it should be a hell of a game. The pace will be slightly quicker than Stony Brook-Virginia (about three possessions faster), but it features a couple of elements that the Seawolves and Cavaliers can't put on the field -- both Duke and Carolina are terrific on extra-man opportunities (each is in the top-four nationally) and both love to share the ball on offense (each is within the top-six nationally).

Remember: Sharing is caring, and both teams do it well.

If you're scheduled for surgery or something equally stupid on Sunday afternoon, make sure that you embrace the loving glow of your television on Saturday at 2:30 so you can watch this funfest.

Notre Dame-Maryland
Rating: 3.74
Rating: 3.53

If you want to tell a lacrosse game that you can't watch it because you'll be washing your hair, these are the games that are getting the cold shoulder. Don't get me wrong, these games should be good. But if you want to ignore a comparatively average game for the opportunity to date a better one, these two fit the bill.

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