"I don't want to doubt you,
Know everything about you,
I don't want to sit across the table from you,
Wishing I could run."
- CAKE, "Love You Madly"
The "Weekend in Stick" looks a little different this week -- rather than complementary pieces there's only going to be one shot today. This is what happens when the season starts to meet its sunset. Have your tissues at the ready.
Remaining Conference Tournament Fields are Set
The Patriot League crowned its champion yesterday (more on that below), but the seven other automatic invitation leagues will decide their representatives for the NCAA Tournament this week. It took a long day of games on Saturday to settle the seeding and constitutions of the following fields, but this is how things will look this week:
|CCONFERENCE||SEMIFINAL I||SEMIFINAL II||SEMIFINAL DATE||LOCATION|
|America East||(4) Stony Brook v. (1) Albany||(3) UMBC v. (2) Hartford||May 2nd||Stony Brook|
|Big East||(4) Georgetown v. (1) Villanova||(3) Notre Dame v. (2) Syracuse||May 2nd||Villanova|
|THUNDERDOME!||(4) Massachusetts v. (1) Penn State||(3) Towson v. (2) Drexel||May 1st||Penn State|
|ECAC||(4) Fairfield v. (1) Denver||(3) Ohio State v. (2) Loyola||May 2nd||Hobart|
|Ivy||(4) Princeton v. (1) Cornell||(3) Pennsylvania v. (2) Yale||May 3rd||Cornell|
|MAAC||(4) Detroit v. (1) Marist||(3) Siena v. (2) Jacksonville||May 3rd||Canisius|
|NEC||(4) Sacred Heart v. (1) Bryant||(3) Quinnipiac v. (2) Robert Morris||May 2nd||Bryant|
Some brief notes on what's intriguing in that table:
- Bubble teams are going to be staring at the THUNDERDOME! Tournament as if they were leering at a shady character hanging out by their mailbox. The league's postseason has a long tradition of going sideways in a hurry, and if Penn State doesn't earn the conference's auto-bid to May, an at-large spot could be off the table in order to make room for the Nittany Lions. Drexel is the only team in THUNDERDOME! with a decent at-large argument at the moment, but if the league suddenly becomes a two-bid conference due to Penn State failing to take care of business on its home field, a team or two is going to feel a pinch in an awkward place.
- Loyola has the opportunity to potentially earn two important NCAA Tournament-relevant wins in Geneva this week should it beat Ohio State in its ECAC Tournament semifinal game and then draw Denver in the final. The Pioneers are likely locked into a May adventure at this point, so a loss in the league tournament may not hurt Denver too much. The Greyhounds have everything to gain at the moment to cement them into the NCAA Tournament and the road they will travel on The Boz is exactly what Loyola needs at the moment. Also: This is probably the Buckeyes' last chance to change their postseason volition.
- The Red are the Ivy League's favorite entering play this week, but brains wouldn't leak out of my ears if any of those four teams end up serving as the conference tournament's champion. Princeton has everything to play for at the moment, Pennsylvania and Yale are attempting to establish themselves as unimpeachable at-large candidates, and Cornell is trying to finish off a perfect Ivy League campaign to give itself a high NCAA Tournament seed. It's arguably the most balanced tournament on the board among "power" leagues and Schoellkopf is going to draw a lot of attention when play begins.
- The Great Danes are in a tough spot: None of the competition it will face will help Albany's NCAA Tournament positioning, but the Great Danes could have its May momentum impugned if something goes awry. That's a tough spot to work within.
- This is not the moment for Marist to have a letdown. The Red Foxes have put together an incredible season in Poughkeepsie under Keegan Wilkinson, but Marist spit the bit against Manhattan this past weekend at the worst possible time. The Red Foxes are still head and shoulders above their competition in the MAAC, but lost focus can end a campaign without compassion (just ask 2012 Siena).
- The NEC is probably going to crown Bryant its Homecoming King, but Robert Morris could receive a few write-in ballots. Both the Bulldogs and Colonials are a ladder rung or two below where they were last season in the college lacrosse hierarchy, but both teams appear headed for a death match in Smithfield at the end of the week.
- This isn't to knock what the Wildcats are or what they've done this season, but: The most important Big East Tournament game is the Notre Dame-Syracuse semifinal. Both teams are headed for the NCAA Tournament this season, but each team is still fighting for vital seeding placement. That game is going to shape a lot of the picture that the Selection Committee will consider on Sunday.
Lehigh is NCAA Tournament Bound; Virginia's Season Finally Flatlines
The Mountain Hawks jumped out to a 5-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, entered the half with a 7-2 advantage, and would cruise the rest of the way to an 11-5 victory over Bucknell in the Patriot League championship on its home turf. Lehigh becomes the first team to earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament this season and the Mountain Hawks are, once again, going to be a painful postseason matchup for the unprepared and the prepared.
As for the Bison, Bucknell still has a strong at-large resume for NCAA Tournament consideration, but the effort they put together against the Mountain Hawks in the biggest moment of their season is concerning. Bucknell is arguably the hardest prep in Division I lacrosse and the Bison are capable of beating any team that lies in their path. The question, though, is whether Bucknell will have the opportunity to play at least one more game this season. The Bison must now wait to see what their future looks like.
North Carolina's 16-13 defeat of Virginia in the ACC Tournament championship finally ended one of lacrosse's suffocating dramas: With a 7-8 record, the Cavaliers are ineligible for NCAA Tournament consideration a year after making the national quarterfinals and two seasons removed from winning a surprising national championship. The Cavaliers were able to accrue only two wins that are worth more than napkin scraps this season (a season-opening overtime win against Drexel and a late-season victory over Maryland in the ACC Tournament semifinals), otherwise meandering through a slate of "almost" and "but, but, but. . . ." Virginia remains among the top third of the country in terms of competitiveness, but it doesn't matter now whether Virginia is as good as constituents of the NCAA Tournament field; all that matters is that the Cavaliers are outside the scope of what May will provide. That's a weird kind of reality, but it's the reality the world is providing at the moment.
Super Fantastic Awesome Saturday
There was so much stuff going on this past Saturday that I turned on the StoryStream machine and started frantically providing updates from the press box at MetLife Stadium. It ended up becoming an in-progress "Weekend in Stick," and rather than beat you about the head with the same material twice, I'll simply point you to the catalogue of my progressive insanity:
- StoryStream -- Pseudo-Journalism: Super Fantastic Awesome Weekend Updates. Included are items on Harford-Vermont, Fairfield-Ohio State, Providence-Villanova, Canisius-Detroit, Loyola-Hopkins, Yale-Harvard, Cornell-Princeton, Binghamton-UMBC, Syracuse-Notre Dame, Marist-Manhattan, Bellarmine-Pennsylvania, Albany-Stony Brook, Georgetown-Rutgers, Penn State-Hofstra, and St. Joseph's-Towson.
Bucknell raced out on Army in the second half and earned a 12-9 victory; the Black Knights dumped in a few goals late to tighten up the final outcome . . . Maryland sleepwalked through a 13-6 defeat at the hands of Virginia; the Terps have not played anything like a top five team the last few weeks . . . Massachusetts earned its place in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament thanks, in part, to a 16-8 victory over Delaware; the Blue Hens weren't gumdrops gently falling from the sky this season . . . North Carolina and Duke played one of the best games of the year, an 18-17 victory for the Tar Heels; Duke rallied back from a 15-6 deficit to eventually knot the game at 16 (then everything went plaid). . . .
Robert Morris dispatched Quinnipiac at home, 9-7; since starting 3-0, the Bobcats lost seven of their last 10 games . . . High Point's inaugural season ends with a 14-8 loss to Drexel; the Dragons remain one of the more interesting teams in the country and their defining moment will come in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament . . . The Johnnies' season is over following a 15-10 victory over Marquette; despite the somewhat disappointing end to the year for St. John's, Jason Miller has done a hell of a job the last two seasons in Jamaica . . . Bryant beat Sacred Heart 12-7; the Bulldogs are drinking from the magic elixir that is NEC play . . . Jacksonville asserted itself in a 12-9 victory over Mercer; the Bears end the 2013 season with three wins over Division I opponents, a nice effort in Kyle Hannan's first season . . . Mount St. Mary's earned a 14-7 victory over Wagner; SWAGNER! goes into cold storage for another year . . . Siena dropped VMI, 16-10; the Saints will have a chance to play spoiler in the MAAC Tournament for the first time in forever . . . Air Force beat Hobart, 16-12, in an ECAC conference game that may or may not have existed; the Falcons never quite met their potential this season . . . Denver ended Michigan's season with a 12-4 victory in Colorado; the Wolverines remain an interesting work in progress . . . There were no consequences on the line but Brown and Dartmouth decided to play a triple overtime game for fun; Brown ended the shenanigans with an 8-7 win on the back of a Brendan Caputo tally with 1:19 left in the final extra period. . . .
Pummeling and Pummeling and Pummeling
Your best individual performances from the weekend:
- Backstop Circus: Gill Conners (15, Quinnipiac); Anthony Porchetta (17, High Point); Jeff Lowman (15, St. John's); A.J. Levell (18, Detroit); Greg Dutton (15, Ohio State); Mike Nugent (20, Mercer); Gerald Logan (20, Michigan); Dillon Ward (16, Bellarmine); Jack Kelly (19, Brown); Bernie Susskind (17, Dartmouth); Kris Alleyne (21, Rutgers); Conor Peaks (15, Delaware); and Kieran Burke (17, North Carolina). High honors this week go Burke for helping Carolina to the ACC Tournament championship and possibly the NCAA's top overall seed.
- "Five-Goal Club and More!": Kevin O'Shea (7, Hartford); Drew Philie (5, Vermont); Richie Hurley (7, Siena); Rob Pannell (5, Cornell); Jack Forster (5, Penn State); Miles Thompson (5, Albany); Kyle Smith (6, Massachusetts); Jordan Wolf (5, Duke); and Matt White (7, Virginia).
- The Tom Schreiber is Killing Everyone from Everywhere Award: There were all kinds of impressive feats of human strength this weekend (non-alligator wrestling division), but four stick out as especially notable -- Rob Pannell's nine-point (5G, 4A) performance against Princeton; Miles Thompson's 14-point (5G, 9A) effort against Stony Brook (which is just ridiculous); David Dickson's six-point (1G, 5A) line against Army; the nine-point day (6G, 3A) that Kyle Smith had against Delaware to get Massachusetts into the THUNDERDOME! Tournament; and Nick O'Reilly's eight-point effort (1G, 7A) in the ACC Tournament. They all share top honors this week because I'm lazy and hurt feelings are universal. (Tom Schreiber had two goals and an assist against the Red. The crisp Central New York air could make his carburetor hum this week.)
Do you have anything else to add from this weekend? The comments, they are yours.