May Madness 2017: NCAA D1 Lacrosse Tournament, Semifinals Predictions

Well, the Quarters are done, and like I predicted, I was a loser all weekend and sat on the couch for 6 straight hours on both Saturday and Sunday. I went 2/4 in the round which, to put it bluntly is, unacceptable. All the same, at least Maryland won, and handedly at that. Saturdays’ semis prove to be great, with one game, Maryland v. Denver, looking to be a slow, meticulous, and relatively-offensive heavy. While the other, Ohio State v. Towson, looking to be also slow, defensive, low-scoring, and ultimately, very boring for anyone who hasn’t played lacrosse, thereby not understanding the intrigue of defense. So without further ado, lets get into the picks.

The Semifinals

The Semis are only on Saturday, which is good as it means I won’t have no life for another weekend in a row. Although, knowing me, I’ll probably find some way to sit on a couch and do nothing for Sunday too. But I digress.

#3 Ohio State v. Towson

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For both lacrosse hardos and newcomers to the sport alike, I feel that I can confidently say that this game is going to be boring as fuck. This game is going to be so defensive oriented as Towson is 3rd and OSU is 9th in goals allowed/game. If you were trying to introduce someone to the sport of lacrosse, get them excited, and make them want to pick up a stick and play, this is NOT the game to watch. This matchup proves to be a low scoring thriller between two of the best hard-nosed, defensive units in the country, and therefore is basically a pickem’. On one side, you’ve got Ohio State. Goalie Tom Carey is red hot right now, holding Loyola (Maryland) to 4 goals in the opening round and averaging 13 saves/game and a 57.7% save percentage in the tournament. In addition OSU has one of the best faceoff men in the country in Jake Withers, a Third Team All-American recording a 66% win percentage at the X. At the same time, Towson has easily the best defensive midfield unit in the country in Second Team All-American SSDM Zach Goodrich, Third Team All-American SSDM Jack Adams, and Honorable Mention All-American LSM Tyler Mayes, all First Team All-CAA. This comes as no surprise, but the key matchup in this game comes at the face-off X between OSU’s Jake Withers (66%) and Towson’s Alex Woodall (60%). Towson’s elite defensive midfield will shut down Ohio States midfield, so Ohio States chances will come from extra possessions from their face-off advantage and their far superior attack, which will still be defended by one of the best units in the country. For Towson to win, they need to play great team defense, not just in the midfield, cause turnovers as Woodall will most likely not be able to beat Withers and capitalize on opportunities on the offensive end, which they proved they know how to do in their matchup with Syracuse. Tom Carey has proven to be a menace in goal against two high octane offensive teams in Loyola (Maryland) and Duke, and I see him coming up big in this matchup. Another to watch is the matchup between OSU Second Team All-American Defenseman Ben Randall and Towson Captain Attackman Ryan Drenner, who had four key assists against Syracuse in their Quarterfinal matchup. Overall, I’ve been a doubter and a hater of the Towson Tigers since my first glance at the bracket. After their performance against Syracuse, I’m a believer, I love the work ethic and the chip-on-the-shoulder mentality Towson has carried with them in the tournament. While all signs point to Ohio State as a heavy favorite in this game, the words of pretty much every defensive coach ever ring true in my mind, “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships”. Also, I kinda just don’t want to see Ohio State v. Maryland again as that matchup (for what would be a third time this season) scares the living shit out of me.

Date/Time/Channel Info: Saturday, May 27 @ 12:00ET on ESPN2

Prediction: #3 Ohio State 8 – Towson 10

O/U+Moneyline: Under (19) / Towson +170

#1 Maryland v. #5 Denver

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I have faith in Maryland, but Trevor Baptiste is the equivalent of god in lacrosse right now. 23/27 (85.2%) v. Air Force, 21/22 (95.5%) at the face-off X v. Notre Dame. Seriously what the fuck is this guy cause he’s definitely not human. At the same time, I find comfort in the fact that the Terps, in particular Jon Garino and wings (12/14 – 85.7%), essentially shut down second best FOGO TD Irelan. While I understand their their own beasts and have different styles, I have a sliver of hope that this may happen against DU. With me saying this, most likely going to happen is Baptiste wins like 23/25, scoops up 15 GB’s and scores three goals. We’ll see though, keep the faith. All this having been said, Maryland has a player of their own who can (probably) walk on water.  That player is Matt Rambo. The Philly-raised southpaw is the leading point scorer in Maryland lacrosse history, 2017 Big Ten POY, and a Tewaaraton finalist. His play, combined with that of roommate Colin Heacock, form a dynamic duo rooted in a physical, athletic play style. In addition, the Terps boast one of the nations top defenses with players like First Team All-Americans Dan Muller (Defense) and Isaiah Davis-Allen (SSDM) as well as Honorable Mention All-American Matt Neufeldt (LSM). All this having been said and as much as I believe in the unit, Denver is a whole other beast compared to Albany (and Bryant but who honestly knows anything about them). Denver took a hit in the offseason when they found out star First Team All-American midfielder Zach Miller would not be playing in the 2017 season for personal reasons. This opened the gate for another playmaker, the now Freshman sensation Ethan Walker (36G, 30A) to burst onto the scene. His play, coupled with that of perennial All-American Connor Cannizzaro and sophomore Austin French has formed one of the most well balanced attack units in college lacrosse this year. DU runs into problems on defense though as they don’t have anyone that can hang with the main UM threats: Attackmen Rambo and Heacock and Middies (First Team All-American) Connor Kelly and Tim Rotanz. Overall,  like I said earlier, I hope UM finds a way to shut down Trevor Baptiste but….I’m realistic. Expect Baptiste to win 70-80% face-offs, and most all first half draws. Look for Rambo to get doubled early by the Pios, opening up time and room for shooters like CK, who is deadly when given open shots from distance (42G on the year).Offensive production, coupled with big days from Dan Muller in his matchup v. Connor Cannizzaro and Danny Morris v. DU’s efficient offense sees the Terps through to the finals for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW.

Date/Time/Channel Info: Saturday, May 27 @ 2:30ET on ESPN2

Prediction: #1 Maryland 15 – #5 Denver 10

O/U+Moneyline: Over (23.5) / Maryland – 145 (-1)

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