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Week 7 storylines to watch in college lacrosse and the first edition of College Crosse Bracketology

Big games this week, and really early May Mayhem talk.

Matt Dewkett

Welcome to Week 7 of the 2019 college lacrosse season.

We’re more than halfway through the season, and conference play begins to ramp up before the end of the month. For some teams, these are games that help their resumes for the NCAA Tournament. For others, it’s their way to crack into conference tournaments in an attempt to get into the big dance in May.

As always, make sure you get yourselves ready for the weekend or the season (if you’re team starts this weekend) with a bevy of College Crosse content.

Let’s get started.

Storylines

The Doyle Smith Cup (and the question surrounding it)

Let’s start with the actual game on Saturday. The Virginia Cavaliers go on the road to take on Johns Hopkins (6 PM, ESPN3 with a tape delay Sunday at 7:30 PM on ESPNU). The winner gets the Doyle Smith Cup, named after former Hopkins manager and Virginia SID Doyle Smith.

Virginia has won their last four games, their recent coming against Notre Dame last week by two goals. Before then, UVA won those games by one goal each, including three straight overtime finishes. They’re not doing it pretty, but they’re getting the job done. Michael Kraus and Matt Moore both have 30 points on the year at attack with a near split between goals and assists, while Ian Laviano leads the team with 22 goals out of 24 total points. They’re also 2-0 in conference play after going years without a conference win before last season.

As for the Blue Jays, they really need to beat the Cavaliers. Their best win so far is Princeton, who isn’t in the top 20. A win against Virginia not only keeps the Doyle Smith Cup in Baltimore, but also gives Hopkins a much-needed win against a top 20 team. Joey Epstein leads the team with 23 points (15 Gs, 8 As). But the midfield needs to produce. Outside of second liner Brett Baskin, no other midfielder has 10 or more points. Alex Concannon and Connor DeSimone each have eight points, while Forry Smith has seven. One of them will have to face LSM Jared Conners.

Now for the future of their series. Quint Kessenich dropped a bomb in his Monday top 20 post saying that both teams won’t face each other “unless further negotiations occur.” Which would be a travesty for the sport. Navy will be back on Hopkins’ schedule, but I feel like the UVA rivalry means a ton more. A few of my sources have told me there’s a chance the game could be moved to late February, but I’ve also heard UVA could be replaced entirely. We’ll have to wait and see.

Fresh Off A Bye

Three notable teams are coming off a bye week.

The top team in the nation is coming off a scheduled bye week, as the Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Cleveland to take on the Cleveland State Vikings (Noon). The Vikings are hosting the No. 1 team for the first time in their three-year program history.

Penn State has the hottest offense in the country with Grant Ament and recent Tewaaraton Watch List addition Mac O’Keefe being the best one-two punch in the country. Out of Ament’s 56 points, 46 of them are assists. That’s more than any Penn State player has points. O’Keefe has 38 points, 31 of them goals. That number is more than any Penn State player below Ament has points.

Cleveland State has given teams some challenges in games, and I think they might give a small one early. Dylan Sheridan’s group is 4-5 so far with their best win over a shorthanded Marquette team.

The other two teams had unexpected bye weeks. The Denver Pioneers and Ohio State Buckeyes were supposed to play last week, but did not due to the bomb cyclone in Colorado closing airports out west.

Denver still travels out east to take on the Towson Tigers (Noon, LSN). Towson comes off a close loss on the road to Duke last Saturday. The Tigers definitely showed they can play with the best, and this will be their final nonconference game before CAA play begins.

Finally, Ohio State is the lone undefeated team remaining. They head out to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1 PM, ACC Network Extra). Ohio State hasn’t been tested so far, with their best win coming against UMass. Denver would’ve given them a litmus test of where they stand, but the Irish might be a better game to evaluate where the team stands. Tre Leclaire and Jack Myers are leading the Buckeyes on offense. Notre Dame looks to bounce back after a tough loss to Virginia on the road.

Speaking of Tests

The North Carolina Tar Heels travel to College Park to take on the Maryland Terrapins (4 PM, ESPNU). UNC is 6-2, but I’m not sold on them. With losses to Hopkins and Denver, the Heels’ best win has come against...Harvard? Marist is the only team with a .500 record that UNC has beaten.

Maryland is our College Crosse #1 and could be undefeated if it weren’t for an overtime loss against Notre Dame indoors.

Ivy League play continues for the Cornell Big Red. After falling to Yale last weekend, they return home to host the Penn Quakers.

This will be a test to see how Penn really is. Their strength of schedule is tough, as it always has been. But unlike last year, they haven’t gotten a marquee win yet. Villanova is their best victory and they’ve have cooled off since their hot start. They have Yale in New Haven next week. They need at least one win against those two teams. Mark Evanchick and the rest of the Penn defense has their hands full against Jeff Teat and Clarke Petterson, another guy recently added to the Tewaaraton Watch List.

There’s a few guys that I feel aren’t getting enough love, similar to Petterson.

  • BJ Farrare, LSM, Penn: Easily the best freshman LSM in the country. I’d put him in my top 10 for LSMs in the nation, maybe top five. He leads the team with six caused turnovers, but he also has three goals and two assists.
  • Noah Lejman, D, Penn: He was a good freshman three years ago, but injuries the past couple of seasons forced him to miss substantial time. He has four CTs and nine ground balls.
  • John Piatelli, A, Cornell: The Big Red have three players tied for the lead in points at 34. Petterson, Teat, and Piatelli. The other attackman has 25 goals, one behind Petterson, and nine assists on the season. With a player like Teat dishing and Petterson gaining more attention, Piatelli is becoming the underrated star on the team.
  • Jonathan Donville, M, Cornell: I was a fan of Donville last year when he was on the second midfield unit. He’s now become the No. 1 option up top with 12 goals and six assists. Connor Fletcher and Jake McCulloch are also solid middies.

Syracuse, But Outdoors

For the first time since 1989, the Syracuse Orange will play a home game in Syracuse that isn’t the Carrier Dome. This time, they’ll host the Duke Blue Devils in a big ACC conference game at Cicero-North Syracuse High School (Sunday 2 PM, ESPNU). Since the Carrier Dome became Cuse’s home venue in 1981, the Orange are 5-0 in outdoor games at Cuse. All of those games were played at Coyne Field, which is now Syracuse’s field hockey site.

The Orange have came from behind in their last two games against Hopkins and Rutgers. We saw some interesting combinations at the end of the Rutgers game with Nate Solomon playing midfield and Griffin Cook playing attack. Could that carry over into Sunday?

As for the Blue Devils, they’ve won their last seven games with five of them coming against teams that are or were ranked. Duke was in a top 5 dog-fight with Towson until the fourth quarter when the defense came to play. While the offense scored four goals in the final frame, the defense caused eight turnovers on the Tiger offense. JT Giles-Harris finished with four CTs, while Cade Van Raaphorst added some offensive flare with a goal and an assist.

Some Intriguing Conference Matchups

Plenty of conferences start up conference play this weekend. These games can help teams that didn’t have the best of time in nonconference play make noise and try to win an AQ to go to the NCAA Tournament. Unless you’re the ACC, because you don’t have an AQ. Get another team please.

MAAC: The first game of the weekend pits two teams looking for a MAAC title between the Siena Saints and the Canisius Golden Griffins (11 AM, ESPN3). Siena has scored more than 10 goals in all six of their games thus far. The defending conference champions have knocked off Robert Morris and Colgate in the past two weeks.

Patriot League: Two intriguing PL competitions involve the two service academies. First, the Colgate Raiders travel to Michie Stadium to take on the Army Black Knights (Noon, Patriot League Network). After starting out with an upset win of Syracuse, Colgate has lost four of their last five games, including a midweek defeat against Hobart. Army has limited Binghamton and Holy Cross to six goals in each game.

In Maryland, the Lehigh Mountain Hawks look to stay hot against the Navy Midshipmen (Noon, Patriot League Network). Lehigh has won their last four games, while the Mids looks to bounce back after a brutal 18-5 loss to Loyola.

Big East: It’s only one game, but the Big East conference schedule begins as the Marquette Golden Eagles travel to the nation’s capital to face off against the Georgetown Hoyas (Noon, Big East Digital Network). The Hoyas’ only blemish is a 14-8 loss to Towson, but they do bring a talented offense led by Daniel Bucaro and Jake Carraway at attack. Speaking of offense, Marquette has scored 17 and 16 goals in their past two wins over Robert Morris and Michigan.

NEC: There are three teams that have won their conference openers so far (Saint Joseph’s plays Bryant in their opener on Saturday). Two of them, Hobart and Sacred Heart, face off against each other in Fairfield (Noon, NEC Front Row). Who’s the best team in the NEC? Right now, it’s definitely Hobart. The Statesmen have a 6-1 record, the loss coming against Cornell by three goals, and have scored over 10 goals in every game. But despite a slow start, the Pioneers have won three straight.

Later in the afternoon, it’s been a tale of two seasons for Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary’s (3 PM, NEC Front Row). For the Colonials, they’re 1-6 with their only win coming against Bellarmine. The Mountaineers are 4-5 and could be a contender for an NEC title.

What To Watch For

Outside of the games I already mentioned, here’s others to keep tabs on.

  • Delaware vs. Michigan (Noon, MGoBlueTV): The Wolverines have a freshman stud in Bryce Clay and a talented man-down unit. But they’re 17-of-88 on faceoffs in their last three losses. That’s just over 19%. Delaware’s Joe Lenskold is 42.7% from the faceoff X.
  • Hofstra vs. Rutgers (1 PM, BTN Plus): Both teams close out nonconference play this weekend, and both hope to come out with a win. The Pride are 3-5 and have lost five of their last six. The Scarlet Knights have lost their last two games, both against ranked teams. It’ll also mark the return of John Gorman to Piscataway. The Hofstra defensive coordinator was the DC at Rutgers for the previous two years.
  • Brown vs. UMass (1 PM, UMass All-Access): Outside of their 20-7 win over Quinnipiac, the Bears have played in close games since. All of their games have been decided by a goal or two. Their last two losses came in overtime against Virginia and Holy Cross. Brown’s offense has to face Isaac Paparo, one of the best defensemen in the CAA.
  • Yale vs. Princeton (3 PM, ESPN+): Yale took care of Cornell last week and Chris Fake faces another talented attackman in Michael Sowers. I thought the Tigers would look more impressive than they’ve been so far. The Penn loss was awful, but their previous three losses were either by a goal or two.
  • Drexel vs. Providence (Sunday 1 PM, Friars All-Access): A very underrated noncon game to watch. For the past two years, this game has gone to overtime with the home team taking the win. Don’t be surprised if we have overtime yet again in the rubber-match.

Division I(I) Lacrosse

On the Division II side, Merrimack crushed Saint Rose last week. They have a huge NE10 home game against Le Moyne on Saturday at 1 PM. Conference play continues Wednesday night as they host Bentley.

LIU Post suffered a tough one-goal loss to #1 Adelphi on Wednesday. The Pioneers host Roberts Wesleyan Saturday at 2 PM in an ECC matchup. They also travel to take on Georgian Court on Tuesday.

We’ll keep you up to tabs with both schools in their last year in Division II throughout the remainder of the year.

Don’t forget to follow College Crosse on Twitter for this Saturday’s College Crosse Gameday at 10 AM and for the entire 2019 season! We’ll have one this week!


Bracketology 1.0

No pod this week, plus I’m also still fighting Twitter jail. So instead, let’s talk...Bracketology?

In a little over a month, we’ll have May Mayhem in college lacrosse. And why not starting looking ahead to May, even though some conferences like the Big Ten and the CAA haven’t even started conference play?

This season is already crazy. There’s not really a true dominant team in the country, and it shows in the college lacrosse polls with the variety of #1 teams in the nation.

Automatic Qualifiers

There are only nine AQs, and you can thank the ACC for the odd number (I’ll say this again, please find a sixth team). For this edition, we’ll take the top team in each conference based off whoever has the highest RPI, according to LaxBytes. When conference schedules get underway, we’ll go with highest conference record.

2019 College Crosse Bracketology Automatic Qualifiers 1.0

Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Yale Ivy League 1 5 NA 1-0 (Cornell) 2-1 (Penn State, UMass) NA NA Villanova (18)
Towson CAA 3 1 1-1 (Loyola) 0-1 2-0 (Johns Hopkins, Georgetown) NA NA Cornell (8)
Loyola Patriot 4 3 1-2 (Virginia) 0-0 1-0 (Johns Hopkins) NA NA NA
Ohio State Big Ten 6 19 0-0 0-0 0-0 NA NA NA
Denver Big East 9 6 0-1 0-1 0-0 NA NA NA
Hobart NEC 16 39 0-0 0-1 0-0 NA NA NA
High Point SoCon 17 43 2-0 (Duke, Virginia) 0-0 0-0 St. John's (50) Duke (2), Virginia (5) St. John's (50)
Vermont America East 28 31 0-0 0-0 0-1 Boston University (23), Navy (32) NA Navy (32)
Siena MAAC 29 48 0-0 0-0 0-1 Fairfield (31) NA Fairfield (31)
Data from LaxBytes

There are so many 0-0 and NA sections in here since we’re early in the Bracketology process. But, as many of mentioned before, High Point has the two best wins so far this season and it shows. They’re the only team with significant wins out of all the potential AQs.

At-Large Candidates

Eight more teams will be picked to join the nine qualifiers. It’s a little too early to tell how the bubble could turn out, but it looks like there’s an obvious line between potential bubble teams and non-bubble teams.

2019 College Crosse Bracketology At-Large Candidates 1.0

Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Team Conference RPI SOS 1-5 Ws 6-10 Ws 11-20 Ws 21+ Ls Significant Ws Significant Ls
Duke ACC 2 10 2-0 (Towson, Loyola) 1-0 (Denver) 1-1 (Penn) NA NA High Point (17)
Virginia ACC 5 4 0-1 1-0 (Notre Dame) 1-1 (Syracuse) NA NA High Point (17)
Notre Dame ACC 7 2 0-1 2-0 (Denver, Maryland) 0-1 NA NA Richmond (20)
Cornell Ivy League 8 9 1-1 (Towson) 0-0 1-1 (Hobart) NA Towson (3) Penn State (11)
Maryland Big Ten 10 17 0-0 0-1 2-0 (Penn, Villanova) NA NA NA
Penn State Big Ten 11 20 0-1 1-0 (Cornell) 2-0 (Penn, Villanova) NA Cornell (8) NA
Syracuse ACC 12 12 0-1 0-0 2-0 (Johns Hopkins, Army West Point) Colgate (25) NA Colgate (25)
Johns Hopkins Big Ten 13 11 0-2 0-0 0-1 NA NA NA
Penn Ivy League 14 8 0-1 0-1 1-1 (Villanova) NA NA NA
Georgetown Big East 15 36 0-1 0-0 0-0 NA NA NA
Army West Point Patriot League 19 34 0-0 0-0 0-1 Lehigh (22) NA Lehigh (22)
Richmond SoCon 20 21 0-1 1-1 (Notre Dame) 0-0 Mount St. Mary's (40) Notre Dame (7) Mount St. Mary's (40)
UMass CAA 21 22 0-1 0-1 0-1 NA NA NA
Lehigh Patriot League 22 23 0-1 0-1 1-0 (Army West Point) Hofstra (33) Army West Point (19) Hofstra (33)
North Carolina ACC 27 53 0-0 0-1 0-1 NA NA NA
Data from LaxBytes

Again, a lot of NAs and 0-0 records. It feels empty. But whatever, you have a head start. Which is important.

The High Point Question

It’s still early to dive in to chances for a bunch of teams, but the one I have interest in as of now is with the High Point Panthers.

They look like the best team in the SoCon as they ramp up conference play. They’re 7-1 with six SoCon games left to play. Their only loss is to St. John’s by a goal.

The Panthers can get in by winning the conference tournament, just like nearly every team in a conference that’s not the ACC. But say High Point wins out and loses in the SoCon title game (more than likely to Richmond). Would the Panthers get in as an at-large? They do have the two best wins in the country to the #2 and #6 ranked RPI squads.

The numbers will get a little worse as SoCon play continues with Furman, Mercer, and Bellarmine remaining. We’ll see how much that one loss to St. John’s hurts the Panthers (if it does) come May.

Bracketology Prediction 1.0

Before I unveil what I have, here’s the rundown for creating the bracket. The cliff-notes from the NCAA are below:

  • Eligibility and availability of student-athletes for NCAA championships
  • Won-lost record
  • Strength of schedule index [based on team’s 10 highest rated contests; (2 games against the same opponent will count as two contests)]
  • Results of the RPI
  • Record against ranked teams 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20; 21+
  • Average RPI wins (average RPI of all wins)
  • Average RPI loss (average RPI of all losses)
  • Head-to-head competition
  • Results versus common opponents
  • Significant wins and losses (wins against teams ranked higher in the RPI and losses against teams ranked lower in the RPI)
  • Location of contests
  • POLLS DO NOT MATTER

For the first time in the 2019 college lacrosse season, here we go:

Last Four In: Penn State, Maryland, Syracuse, Johns Hopkins
First Four Out: Georgetown, Penn, UMass, Army West Point

You ever check out Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology in December when it’s nowhere near March? It’s like that. Don’t take too much out of it, if anything at all.

As I mentioned before, it’s still pretty early before the majority of Bracketology posts come in. But it could be an early forecast of chaos to come.

Penn State and Maryland unseeded despite both of their losses coming by a goal? Both of those teams will surely improve their current marks, while Virginia still has Marist and VMI remaining. Plenty of change left to come and plenty of time for teams to improve.