North Carolina vs Virginia
Safe: UVA was definitely impressive versus Georgetown and their aggressive play was the difference last weekend. However, so long as UNC doesn’t get dominated on faceoffs, I think the Tar Heels should prevail in this one. I am going with North Carolina.
Adam: I think we need to pump the brakes on Virginia’s defense suddenly turning things around. They didn’t look great against Bryant and then happened to match up really well athletically with Georgetown. North Carolina is a different story. With Gray and their midfield, they have the athletes to make life difficult for the Hoos D, like they’ve done twice already this season. Carolina rebounds from the scare against Rutgers and heads to the title game.
Jake: I’m really not sure which way to go here. Carolina has been the better team throughout the season, but Virginia feels like the hotter one, and it’s been a long time since they’ve lost in this tournament. If Carolina was fully healthy I’d go with the Heels, but I think some of their injuries limit their offense like we saw against Rutgers and the Cavs defense is peaking. ‘Hoos get back to Monday. Virginia.
Ryan: This will be an interesting one, as Virginia’s playing their best lacrosse all year and was the only team in the Final Four not to have a scare in the quarterfinals last weekend. But kind of similar in a way I feel being battle tested will help the Carolina women in their final four, I think the same holds for the men. I highly doubt a Lars Tiffany coached team will come out overconfident, but if they do, that can be a big opportunity for the Heels to pounce. North Carolina
Duke vs Maryland
Safe: We still are not sure if Maryland is any good but I think the Terps will continue their undefeated run and make it to Memorial Day. MARYLAND with the win.
Adam: Duke hasn’t played a great game against a great opponent since April 10th against Notre Dame. That’s what they’ll need to do to beat the Terps. They’ve been squeaking by, as that’s what good teams do, but the Final Four is typically when life starts to catch up with you. I just think Maryland is a little bit better on both ends of the field. If Duke wins it’ll be because Naso dominated at the X and Adler far outpaced McNaney in cage. Duke should win both those matchups but the Terps will make it close enough so that their talent on O and D win the day by a goal or two.
Jake: I sort of have a feeling this one might not be as close as everyone thinks. Duke’s defense played very well against Loyola, but Loyola had no dodgers. Maryland has several, including the best in the country. And basically every goal Duke gave up was off of ball movement or off ball cutting. Things Maryland does great. Meanwhile Duke’s offense just does not convince. They find ways, but it’s never felt like the pieces have come together. Maryland has a defense like Notre Dame to shut them down and I think they do. Duke has found ways all year long and very well could again, but the Terps and not all that close IMO. Maryland.
Ryan: I keep on asking myself with Duke “will the chemistry project come together?” After High Point, it was looking like it. But against Loyola, they once again didn’t look that cohesive together. Maryland, on the other hand, has that chemistry in every unit on the field. If Bernhardt and company are humming, Duke certainly has the capability to match them with Sowers, O’Neill, and Robertson, but I just don’t know if they can click it together in time as a unit. Terps take this one by about 3 or 4 goals in the end. Safe will be insufferable because a Big Ten team beat an ACC team and once again diminishes the Hopkins-Maryland rivalry like he has with Hopkins-Syracuse. Maryland
Safe: Terps have waited 5 years to tag Carolina back for UNC’s win over MD in the 2016 title game. I think Maryland gets its revenge in what should be an exciting title game. Maryland wins and becomes the first undefeated champion since UVA in 2006.
Adam: 2016 rematch. Maryland exorcises their demons from that game so Jake can stop talking about how the 2016 game never happened. It very much happened, and it’s why Maryland will win this time. Congrats to Bobby Benson.
Jake: Maryland. I picked them in January and now they’re here so I’m sticking with it. They’re just the most well balanced team in this tournament and Final Four for my money. There’s no “bad” matchup out there for them because of it. And they have a piece no one else has in #1 in white or red, who no one’s had an answer for all year. I’ll take the Terps to lift the gold trophy again.
Ryan: This one has classic written all over it like the 2016 one was, and these two teams have been in that elite tier all year and step up at the best time. Both team’s strengths come to full display, but I think the game gets won and lost between the restraining boxes. What that means is I think UNC’s rides and clears ends up becoming the difference maker. Either team can win this and either team’s going to be a real deserving champ, but I think one huge late ride out of the Heels ends up being the turning point in determining the national champ. North Carolina