I had a chance to talk with ESPN anchor Anish Shroff about the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Shroff will be calling the Notre Dame/Penn game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Shroff will be joined by former North Carolina defenseman Stephen McElduff.
College Crosse: First off, can you just give your thoughts on Selection Sunday and the upcoming 2011 NCAA Lacrosse tournament?
Anish Shroff: I thought the committee did a pretty job of getting the best 16 teams in. Would’ve loved to see Stony Brook in the field with [Kevin] Crowley and [Jordan] McBride but there was no way they were getting in without winning their conference tournament.
This year's tournament is just so wide open. I really like Maryland as the potential to be this year's Notre Dame - the unseeded team to crash championship weekend. But the Terps have by far the hardest road - North Carolina in round one and then potentially Syracuse. Still, they're dangerous.
Hopkins is young but legit. Duke has played very well down the stretch. Cornell has the best player in the nation and is a deserving two-seed. Syracuse with its 500 All-Americans and heralded senior class should be the favorites. But I could see seven or eight teams winning it all this year.
It's that wide open. Should make for an exciting May.
CC: You are calling the Notre Dame/UPenn game. Is UPenn deserving of a tournament spot?
AS: The committee sent a pretty strong message with its selection of Penn - it basically told schools to schedule tough opponents. Penn had one of the top SOS in the nation. That early season win versus Duke held a lot of currency with the committee (even though Duke then wasn't Duke now).
CC: With that being said, what does UPenn have to do to win this game?
AS: Face-offs will be key - Penn struggled at the X in its last two games (both losses) - if they limit possessions they'll have a chance. There's a bit of a false perception that Notre Dame is a ball control team but they do have the horses to get up and down in transition.
CC: Notre Dame has lost two straight games to end the 2011 season. What have you seen out of them the last two games that has changed since their first 10?
AS: Well, Notre Dame beat Duke to open the season (but again Duke was still searching for an identity then) - they beat Denver on the road which was impressive but then didn't have another marquee game until Syracuse and UNC. Both were on the road.
Sure they have something to prove, but defensively they are as good as anyone. [Andrew] Irving is a terrific long stick midfielder and [Kevin] Ridgway, [Kevin] Randall, and [Sam] Barnes are one of the best trios of close defensemen in the game. I don't really think much changed except the competition in the last two games. There's no shame losing to Syracuse at the Dome and the Irish did take North Carolina to overtime at Chapel Hill. Notre Dame is still a very viable threat for Final Four weekend.