Unlike my counterpart Matt Glaude (Hoya Suxa), I am looking forward to watching UNC-Maryland tomorrow afternoon. I love watching ACC games. They are always exciting and bring an intensity and rivalry that you dont get in many other conferences.
When you look at the Tar Heels, its hard to understand their season. They sit at 6-2 and #6 in the country, but when you look at their strength of wins compared to the teams they have lost to, it leaves you scratching your head asking the question, "which UNC team will show up?"
Like most ACC teams, the Tar Heel's problem isnt on offense. With freshman Nicky Galasso leading the way with 29 points, its sort of a "pick your poison" type of mentality for opposing defense's. The same can be said for Maryland.
Both teams will throw out explosive attack units with Grant Catalino and Ryan Young carrying the load for the Terp's and Galasso, Billy Bitter and Marcus Holman leading the way for the Heel's.
The game will be won on the defensive side of the ball as well as on the ground. As Quint Kessenich said in his weekly column, "The major concern is groundballs. UNC is a negative 13.5 in groundball margin in two defeats, the stat that reflects toughness and hustle." Its hard to understand that as the defense is led by senior Ryan Flanagan, who is a guy who leaves it all on the field game in and game out.
I think this game will be a wake up call for the Heel's as the bulk of their schedule still lies ahead of them. After Maryland, they still have Hopkins, Virginia and Notre Dame on the schedule. With that being said, I do see Maryland winning this game thanks in large part to the play of freshman goalie Niko Amato, who is saving 64% of the shots he see's and is the anchor behind a defense that is only giving up six goals a game.
Georgetown at Duke creates a major opportunity for the Hoya's to get back on track in 2011. After back to back losses to Harvard and Syracuse, the Hoyas beat Providence on Saturday and head into the matchup with the Blue Devils sitting at 3-3. Georgetown can score, but their major problem is the fact they are giving up almost 12 goals a game. Duke has the ability to expose that weakness and the Duke defense is just flat out better than the Hoya's so I dont see any upset this weekend in this game.
Duke will move to 7-2 and move their win streak to six games.
Virginia at Hopkins is one of those games that always brings out the best in both teams. Its always an exciting game and features a much better Hopkins squad than the 2010 match up in which Virginia blew out the Jays 15-6.
Pierce Bassett and the Blue Jay defense is enough of a reason to believe the Jays can pull of the upset over the Cavaliers. After seeing Bassett play against the Orange last week, the sophomore from Arizona is the real deal. It will take a major effort, but I believe the Jays have what it takes to beat Virginia tomorrow at 2pm. Coming off an emotional loss in double overtime in the Carrier Dome last weekend, Pietramala's squad will be out for some revenge and another emotional game will be at hand.
Virginia is the top offense in the country and it will take a lot to slow them down but the Jays are holding opponents to only 5.4 goals against per game.
This game will be much more exciting than last year's and I will be looking forward to watching the two square off on ESPNU tomorrow afternoon.
Lastly, Syracuse puts their undefeated season on the line as they travel to VIllanova for the first time in program history. Wildcats coach Michael Corrado is calling this game "the biggest in program history." For the first time, the Wildcats sit at 7-1 with less than half the season remaining and face off against a top division opponent and the #1 team in the country.
The Wildcats do have the tools and weapons to knock off the Orange. With their attack duo of Kevin Cunningham and Jack Rice and defensive leader Brian Karalunas, dont be surprised if this game is alot closer than some may expect. The game will be won at the face off X.
The Orange need to have a big game from their man up unit. They havent looked strong this year at all and besides for Jojo Marasco and Jeff Gilbert, it is the same exact unit from 2010 that had a ton of success.
Like the UVa/Hopkins game, this will be a much different game than last years 20-6 shilacking the Orange put on the Wildcats.