The bracket is in. May Madness has begun for NCAA lacrosse. This has without a doubt been one of the best college lacrosse regular seasons in a while. From Penn State attackmen Grant Ament and Princeton attackmen Michael Sowers breaking ankles left and right to Towson goalie Tyler Canto committing a highway robbery against Loyola, there has been no shortage of highlight reel plays.
Unsurprisingly, Penn State received the No.1 overall seed. Fresh off an overtime win against Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten title game, the Nittany Lions are without a doubt the team to beat. Their only loss on the year came against the Yale Bulldogs, the reigning men’s champs 14-13. Penn State is loaded from top to bottom. They have the best attack line in the country, headed by Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe. Ament is second in the country with 100 points, and O’Keefe leads the country in goals with 60. That’s why I wrote earlier this year that they’re going to win the National Championship. The biggest question mark for the Nittany Lions is their lack of NCAA tournament experience. They have never won a tournament game in their program’s history.
The No. 2 overall seed is the Duke Blue Devils. When I first saw their seed I initially thought it was too high but when you actually go and read their resume it’s pretty damn good. They have five top 10 wins and ended up losing to Notre Dame in the ACC semi-final 12-10. They have just as good a chance of anyone in this tournament to make a late run with John Danowski as their coach who’s the winningest coach in Division One history and has three national titles. Sophomore midfielder Nakeie Montgomery will be a huge key to the team’s success as he is one of the most athletic players in the country.
The No.3 overall seed is the University of Virginia Cavaliers. The Hoos are buzzing right now coming off their 10-4 win against Notre Dame to win the ACC championship. They’re an offensively dominant team with attackman Michael Kraus and midfielders Dox Aitken and Ryan Conrad, the ladder who was recently drafted No.2 overall in the inaugural Premiere Lacrosse League . UVA has multiple No.1 recruits in the country on their roster and their play is starting to reflect that. They’ll be playing Robert Morris which should be an easy win for them, but RMU did give Maryland a scare in the first-round- so you never know. Anything can happen in May.
The No.4 overall seed is the Penn Quakers. It’s been an unbelievable ride for the Quakers thus far. They started the year off with three straight losses but then proceeded to win eleven straight games, capping the season off with an Ivy League title. Their team is led midfielder Tyler Dunn who has recently draft No.8 in the Premier Lacrosse League draft. The Quakers feel like a team of destiny to me.
The No.5 overall seed is the defending champion, Yale Bulldogs. Despite losing the Ivy League championship game by a goal to Penn, it’s been another successful season for the nerds. They lost a tremendous player in for Tewaarton Trophy winning attackmen Ben Reeves. But received the highest profile transfer in former Albany faceoff specialist T.D. Ierlan who is currently winning 77 % of his faceoffs. With T.D. at the x, the Bulldogs will be tough to beat.
The No.6 overall seed is the Towson Tigers. It’s been a very up and down year for the Tigers. They started their season out great defeating Johns Hopkins and Loyola and were ranked No.1 in the country. But they then proceeded to lose four out of their last seven games. They had to win the CAA title to get into the tournament and that’s exactly what they did as they beat the Drexel Dragons 16-14. A huge key to this team’s post-season success will be the health of faceoff specialist Alex Woodall. He ranks second in the country in faceoff percentage but has been hurt these last few games. Without Woodall, it will be an uphill battle for Towson.
The No.7 overall seed is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Like Towson, the Fighting Irish have been pretty good at some points in the year and pretty bad at other points. They lost to Richmond in the second game of their season but followed that up with an overtime win against Maryland. The team has had to overcome the loss of attackmen Ryder Garnsey who had to sit out the year with academic issues but was recently just reinstated for the tournament which is a huge boost. A 12-10 victory against Duke in the ACC semi-final propelled them to their place in the tournament. If midfielders Brian Costabile and attackmen Brendan Gleason are able to dominate the field, the Fighting Irish has a chance to make a run.
The No.8 overall seed is the Loyola Greyhounds. It’s been a very solid year for the Hounds as they went 11-4 in the regular season and lost to Army West Point 7-5 in the Patriot League semi-finals. Their season has been defined by insane plays from arguably the best player in college lacrosse attackmen Pat Spencer. Interestingly though in Spencer had been held without a goal in three of his last four games. With the Hounds getting a home playoff game I don’t expect that trend will continue for Spencer.
No.1 Penn State vs. UMBC
Penn State will roll over UMBC in this game. They already dropped 27 goals on RMU goals this year and I expect them to do the same in this game. But if there’s any 16th seeded team that can beat a No.1 it’s UMBC.
Penn State wins 26-8
No.2 Duke vs. Richmond
Richmond has a legitimate shot to win this game. They’ve already beaten an ACC in Notre Dame this year and knocked off High Point who beat both UVA and Duke this year in the Socon championship. I think Duke just has too much experience especially at the defensive end with ACC defensive player of the year JT Giles-Harris and will edge out a close on.
Duke wins 14-13
No.3 Virginia vs Robert Morris
I’ve got UVA winning big against Robert Morris. The depth they have at the midfield and attack is unparalleled, and Robert Morris just won’t be able to match up.
UVA wins 17-7
No.4 Penn vs. Army West Point
Both of these teams just won their conference championships and are playing their best lacrosse when it matters most. Army held Pat Spencer and the Loyola offense to five goals which is wildly impressive. Penn is one of the hottest teams in the tournament as they notched off 11 straight wins. I think this will be a very close and low-scoring game and could really go either way. I’ll take Penn by a goal.
Penn wins 13-12
No.5 Yale vs. Georgetown. The Hoyas are playing some of the best lacrosse in the country as they just knocked off Denver to win the Big East championship. The Bulldogs definitely have the advantage when it comes to faceoffs with T.D. Ireland. But Georgetown has the advantage on offense with attackman Daniel Bucaro who had over 150 points on the year. I’ll take Georgetown in an upset.
Georgetown wins 12-9
No.6 Towson vs Maryland
The old-time Maryland rivalry is back and should make for a great game. It’s odd to see Maryland unranked this year but with some mid-season losses, that’s where they find themselves. Towson’s success will hinge on the health of faceoff man Alex Woodall, without him it will be tough for Towson. Maryland’s tournament and final-four experience will pay off and be too much for the Tigers.
Maryland wins 11-7
No.7 Notre Dame vs. Johns Hopkins
I think Hopkins has the edge here. Their freshman Joey Epstein score seven goals in their last game and will be the difference maker. Ryder Garnsey being provides a ginormous boost for the Irish offense. I think his addition gives ND a slight advantage and a close win.
Notre Dame wins 13-11
No.8 Loyola vs. Syracuse
This is no easy matchup for the Hounds. Many expected Syracuse to be a seeded team as they had big wins against Cornell and Hopkins. I just think that Pat Spencer will be too much for Cuse. It’s his senior season and he’s determined to win a championship.
Loyola wins 14-9
No.1 Penn State vs. No.8 Loyola
This game has the potential to be an absolute shootout. With a dominant offense of both sides and poor defensive play from Loyola, there will be a lot of goals going on in this game. At the end of the day Penn State is the best team in the country, they’ll be heading to Philly for the final four.
Penn State wins 15-10
No.4 Penn vs. Georgetown
If you had told me at the beginning of the season that these two teams would be in the quarters I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But throughout the year these two squads have proven to the college lacrosse that they are for real. I think it will be a close game but the fact that Philly is home to the final four this year gives the edge to Penn. They’re gonna do whatever it takes to play at home one last time.
Penn wins 13-10
No.3 Virginia vs. Maryland
The once bitter ACC rivals are facing off again with a chance to go to the final four. It’s so hard to not pick Maryland with all of their final four experience. But with UVA’s firepower on offense, I think they’ll be too much for the Terps.
UVA wins 10-8
No.2 Duke vs. Johns Hopkins
A true battle of blue blood programs. They’re two historic teams who have had very different seasons. I expect this game to be a dogfight and the team who wins the ground ball battle will win. I think Joey Epstein will go off and carry Hop to the win.
Hopkins wins 12-10
No.1 Penn State vs. No.4 Penn
You can’t write a much better script than this game. Two Pennsylvania teams with deep Philly roots playing in the city of Brotherly Love. If these two teams do in fact advance to the final four it will be huge for attendance. With Philly pride on the line, I expect this to an extremely close game. But Grant Ament will be the difference maker and probably drop at least eight points.
Penn State wins 14-12
No.3 Virginia vs. Johns Hopkins
This is a game where I don’t envision too much defense being played. UVA has a dynamic offense and Hopkins scored 17 goals in the Big Ten title game. I think Hopkins will keep it close but UVA just has too much firepower on offense.
UVA wins 16-13
No.1 Penn State vs. No.3 Virginia
You really can’t ask for a much better matchup. Two teams with some of the most outstanding players in college lacrosse going head to head. Penn State has the edge defensively with senior star Chris Sabia and junior goalie Colby Kneese. That, combined with Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe will be too much for the Hoos.
Penn State wins 13-10
While it’s been an unbelievable season of college lacrosse, the tournament should be even better!
- Jackson Parker