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NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament First Round Predictions

The College Crosse crew picks the first round of games this weekend

Matt Dewkett

Safe

#1 UNC vs. Monmouth

UNC

Tar Heels should roll in this one. UNC’s too deep and too potent on offense for Monmouth

#4 UVA v. Bryant

I think the long layoff will be a big factor for UVA. Bryant’s led by a true NCAAT general in Mike Pressler and I think his boys will have something special for the Cavs.

#5 Georgetown vs. Syracuse

I have been on the Georgetown bandwagon all year long and I won’t get off now. Hoyas get the win here.

#3 Maryland vs. Vermont

The Terps are too deep and I think they will wear down the Catamounts. Maryland should win comfortably here.

#7 Denver vs. Loyola

I don’t feel great about this game but I will put my trust in Bill Tierney. Denver should be able to take care of a very dangerous Loyola team.

#2 Duke v. HPU

Duke should roll pretty easily in this one.

#6 ND v. Drexel

This is arguably the most interesting match-up this weekend. Drexel’s been on a run the last 2 months and I think they will pull off the huge upset this weekend.

#8 Lehigh v. Rutgers

The Rutgers Show continues!!! #TeamJersey

Jake

#1 UNC vs. Monmouth

I wonder if at some point we’ll see a #1 seed lose in the 16 team tournament era. We’ve come kind of close a few times, but not sure there’s ever been a point where I thought a 1 seed would actually lose. It’s not going to be this weekend.

#8 Lehigh vs. Rutgers

The specter of Mike Sisselberger looms over this game and I’m sure he’ll have an impact; but I think it needs to be a large one to overcome what I see as big advantages for Rutgers against Lehigh’s defense and in the clearing game. Scarlet Knights will play for a Final Four berth in Hempstead next weekend.

#4 Virginia vs. Bryant

This is a really, really interesting game. Bryant’s offense has exploded since Marc O’Rourke got healthy and the Cavs do not have a good defense. Virginia also can struggle against a zone defense, which Mike Pressler teams can particularly adept at. Pressler’s pulled an upset or two before, and I think this is close for longer than anticipated, but Virginia’s athletes win out

#5 Georgetown vs. Syracuse

The Hoyas defense vs Syracuse offense is the matchup of the first round. But I like Georgetown to win it. From there, Syracuse’s defense has not only not improved as we’ve gotten closer to tournament time, it’s gotten worse. Georgetown’s offense can be up and down, but it has the talent to exploit bad defenses and I think it does so here. Hoyas by not a small number

#3 Maryland vs. Vermont

This feels like the trendy upset pick but honestly I’m just not seeing it. Vermont will win faceoffs, but this is a team that even in the America East tournament had some problems with off ball defense and communication and that’s just not what you want against the Terps. Terps too much all over the field for me.

#6 Notre Dame vs. Drexel

You have to find room for an upset somewhere, and this is mine. But honestly, I think this is a legitimate possibility. Not a likelihood - Notre Dame is the more talented team and slightly better everywhere but for faceoffs where they’re a lot better - but a good possibility. Drexel is well balanced everywhere, playing extremely well for 2+ months now, and I think Ross Blumenthal has a heater against Irish shooters who can occasionally go cold

#7 Denver vs. Loyola

As I’ve said all week, really, really unsure what to make of this game. Denver has just kind of been steady and solid all year long and you wonder whether that’s a sign of a team ready to handle business in March or lacking a ceiling. Loyola meanwhile is hot, playing better than anyone the last 2 weeks, but who knows with their COVID situation what that does. I’m going to say the Hounds cool off just a bit and Denver’s experience and balance plus a strong record in NCAA Tournament games at home guides them to the Quarterfinals

#2 Duke vs. High Point

Echoing Adam, no real interest in this game. I am tapped out on ACC vs SoCon games for 2021.

Ryan

#1 UNC vs. Monmouth

North Carolina gets off to a good start in their NCAA Tournament run with a win over Monmouth, who get to celebrate a first time into the NCAA Tournament proper. Not really too much that needs to be said, but I don’t think we get our first modern era upset of a 1 seed.

#8 Lehigh vs. Rutgers

Rutgers ended the regular season on a flat note while Lehigh hasn’t exactly looked dominant over the past month. I give a slight edge to the Scarlet Knights as they should be amped up to finally make it to the NCAAs and I don’t see the Hawks matching their offense.

#4 Virginia vs. Bryant

Virginia’s on a 3 week layoff, and the last game they played was not a good effort against Syracuse. That being said, although Bryant’s still a solid team, they don’t have that faceoff or goaltender domination they had in years’ past. I think the Cavs hold off the upset bid from the Bulldogs and get enough out of their big guns to pull through.

#5 Georgetown vs. Syracuse

I haven’t been as high on Georgetown after the past month of them having some tight games at points in the Big East, even with the conference title (which I chalk a little bit more up to Bill Tierney being allergic to conference championship games these days). However, Syracuse’s defense is too big a liability for me to go with the homer pick. I think more has to go right for the Orange to win than the Hoyas need to, so I’ll do the ungodly thing and pick Georgetown over Syracuse in something.

#3 Maryland vs. Vermont

Vermont’s a good squad, but I can’t see them being able to overcome the firepower the Terps bring to the table. Maryland might have a first round game that isn’t dodgy for the first time in a couple of years. No really, look up their first round final scores since 2017.

#6 Notre Dame vs. Drexel

Boy, if Drexel had gotten Virginia as their first round opponent, I’d be screaming my head off about the upset potential it would have. The Dragons still have that upset potential here. But I think the Irish have put together one of their most balanced teams in a long while and as long as Corrigan doesn’t hamstring the offense by slowing down the pace, and I think they get the job done here. That being said, Drexel may have the potential to ruin a lot of brackets not just here, but down the road as well.

#7 Denver vs. Loyola

Always an eye catcher when the two non Big 3 conference programs that have won the national title in the last decade square off. Loyola’s red hot play as of late could make this close, but I think Denver’s faceoff unit and the COVID disruption for the Hounds give the edge to the Pios at home. Don’t let the Big East Tournament performance fool you, this Denver team has the capability to put a deep run together.

#2 Duke vs. High Point

All the expectations of this season now come into the pressure cooker of May for the Blue Devils. High Point has pulled off some ACC opponent upsets in the past, but I think this could serve as Duke’s reawakening to the lacrosse world by putting together a complete game. Think of it kind of like the Lakers in the bubble last year- biding their time before the real test comes. Just, umm, don’t look at my bracket for what I think happens down the pike.

Adam

#1 UNC vs. Monmouth

Monmouth had a good season, but they won’t keep this close. Over before halftime.

#8 Lehigh vs. Rutgers

Rutgers comes out hot after losing to Hopkins in the Big Ten semi-final. Not sure Lehigh is built to stop the relentless Rutgers transition game. Connor and Colin win this Battle of the Kirsts.

#4 Virginia vs. Bryant

Bryant is a sneaky fun team that could make this a competitive game. But Moore, Shellenberger, and Cormier will be too much at home.

#5 Georgetown vs. Syracuse

Just have a feeling. So much has gone wrong for Syracuse this year and yet they still find themselves in the playoffs with a winnable game. Georgetown’s defense hasn’t been as impenetrable in the second half of the season. Cuse can’t play D, but they can still score.

#3 Maryland vs. Vermont

Vermont FOGO Tommy Burke should have his way with the Maryland tandem, but that’s not going to be enough to make up for the overall talent deficit. The Terps shouldn’t have too much trouble here, especially coming off another close call with Hop.

#6 Notre Dame vs. Drexel

Drexel’s dream run ends, though they can make this a close game. The Dragons are strong on both sides of the ball and are playing as well as anyone in the country. But Pat Kavanagh and the smothering ND defense will send the Golden Domers into the quarterfinals.

#7 Denver vs. Loyola

Loyola is just happy to be here. After turning into Yale West this year, Denver can’t lose in the first round (at home, no less) or they’d never hear the end of it.

#2 Duke vs. High Point

Duke already beat High Point by 100 this season. Not interested in this game.

Chris

#1 UNC vs. Monmouth

#8 Lehigh vs. Rutgers

#4 Virginia vs. Bryant

#5 Georgetown vs. Syracuse

#3 Maryland vs. Vermont

#6 Notre Dame vs. Drexel

#7 Denver vs. Loyola

#2 Duke vs. High Point