After Saturday and with all but one of the candidates knocked out of the tournament, I think it’s pretty obvious who the Tewaaraton should be awarded to… *cough* Matt Rambo *cough*. Anyways, 50% again on my semis predictions, which, at this point, should just be expected. I’m also pretty sure I got bent on literally every betting line I predicted. All the same, Maryland is back in the national championship for the third year in a row so I can’t really complain. I’m just hoping and praying at this point that they don’t choke again like they did against Denver (2015) and North Carolina (2016). On the first semi game of the day, Towson v. 3 Ohio State, I honestly have no words. I mean, sure, I haven’t given Ohio State the respect they deserve but like Towson… what the actual fuck are you doing. The 2nd half meltdown in that game was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, especially from a team with the elite defensive players and pedigree the Tigers have this season. I’ll man up at the same time though and admit when I was wrong. Ohio State, as much as I hate them, is wicked good this year this probably will be for years to come. It’d be an understatement to say I’m nervous for the National Championship on Monday. I know y’all, the like 5 people who read these, are probably getting sick of lacrosse blogs, but this is one of the final ones… for this year. So without further ado, the National Championship preview and predictions.
The National Championship
#1 Maryland v. #3 Ohio State
I don’t know how but the Maryland v. Denver game was actually more boring than the Towson v. Ohio State, but is was. Watching the semis, I had some pretty interesting observations (and interpretations). 1. Towson choked hard. 2. Ohio State for some reason think they’re the 1998 Romanian World Cup squad, which is kinda odd. 3. Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock are some big motherfuckers. 4. Turns out Trevor Baptiste is human after all. 5. Bill Tierney & Co. are the “Old Man Yells at Cloud” Simpsons meme.
Players to watch
While this segment isn’t super original in the world of blogging, I feel I should give credit where credit is due and shoutout Barstool Jordie for this idea. Anyways…
1. Matt Rambo: I mean this is kinda self-explanatory. The pride of Philly native is 5’10”, 210 pounds. In short, he’s a tank. 18 points through three games (6 points/game) is pretty damn impressive but what’s more important to note with Rambo is the attention he demands from opposing defenses. Not only is he paired with the oppositions’ best defenseman, he also draws (early) slides like nobody’s business. What sets him apart from his competition is the fact that he actually knows how to handle a double and is as good a passer as there is in college lacrosse, a skill developed primarily during his four years at College Park. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Matt Rambo is not only a First Team All-American and favorite for the Tewaaraton, but he’s also statistically the best postseason player EVER in college lacrosse, upping his record total to 61 points Saturday v. DU. Also shoutout to Joe Walters, people forget he was an absolute stud at UMD, who got his all-time goalscorer record broken by Rambo on Saturday as well.
2. Connor Kelly: First Team All-American middie, and he’s only a Junior. Flat out, the kid can rip. With a hat trick Saturday, CK is the Terps leading goalscorer on the season at 45. He’s the first middie to score 40+ in god knows how long for the Terps and I, for one, am glad UMD finally has legitimate long-range scoring threat. Look again for the big attackmen (Matt Rambo and Colin Heacock) to draw slides and find Kelly, who’s lethal from distance. Honestly, I don’t know what else to the say. To put it bluntly, Connor Kelly SCORES GOALS.
3. Tim Muller: I struggled with this third pick. Although I picked Tim Muller, I’d just like to say mention and give props to goalie Dan Morris, who came up HUGE in the clutch against the Pios. I think the accolades speak for themselves: First Team All-Big Ten, Big Ten Defensive POY, First Team All-American, William C. Schmeisser Award (USILA – nation’s most outstanding defensive player). In addition, he found a way to hold Connor Cannizzaro, one of the nations’ premier attackmen, to just one goal in their semifinal matchup. To be fair to Muller, when CC scored he burned Bryce Young after the two switched so it isn’t even his fault. But I digress. Over the course of both the regular season and postseason, Muller has proven that he can be put on an ‘island’ against the nations top defenders. Case in point, TM’s (probably) 5 caused turnovers and 8 ground balls v. DU. I honestly don’t know how many he had but it seemed like that many during the game. If he can handle Connor Fields (held to 4 points) and Connor Cannizzaro (held to one goal), I think his matchup v. (again not sure but probably) Tre Leclaire looks promising.
Ohio State Buckeyes
1. Tre Leclaire: Canada and their box lacrosse circuit never cease to amaze me. Tre was committed to Delaware up until his Senior year, without him, OSU would probably be shit. The Third Team All-American FRESHMAN has proven to be a key factor in the Buckeyes’ offensive success this season, with 49 lefty rips on the season. Tre just seems to be the next in a special brand of players who, when they want to get to a spot for a shot, get to that spot at all costs. In Tre’s case, this is usually via bull dodges, basically going through people instead of around or misdirection. The physical matchup v. Tim Muller will definitely be one to keep an eye on all game.
2. Ben Randall: Junior, First Team All-American, stud. These are all words that describe Ben Randall. If I’m honest, I really didn’t know this kid was as good as he is until I started watching Big Ten conference matchups toward the end of the season and the earlier stages of the tournament (Ohio State games obviously). If someone would have told me, “hey, we’re going to put a Junior defenseman on an island against Pat Spencer/Justin Guterding” I would have said you’re fucking insane. Randall proved me wrong in every expectation I had for him and his matchup with Matt Rambo on Monday is going to be the 1v1 battle of the game.
3. Tom Carey: Again, I debated this final pick between two people. The other player, as you probably would have already guessed, is Second Team All-American FOGO specialist Jake Withers who wins 66% of his draws. If Ohio State wants to win this game, Tommy Carey has to play out of his mind, something thats fairly routine for him. While his performance against Towson wasn’t his greatest ever, Carey has that knack about him where if he needs to, he can turn it all the way up. Side note, I’m really puzzled how Jack Concannon from Hofstra gets Second Team All-American over him when Hofstra didn’t make the CAA conference tournament finals or the playoffs. But that’s beside the point. With one of the best defensive units in front of him, Carey is poised for another tough game against a team he’s already seen twice, on the first occasion, a one goal win, he made 10 saves and recorded a 50% save percentage. Similarly in their second matchup, coincidentally a one goal loss, he made 11 saves and recorded a 52% save percentage.
A few more points. 1. Jake Withers doesn’t scare me. After his performance against Towsons’ Alex Woodall and whoever the other rando was that came in after he got hurt, I’m not so sure he’s as dominant as I once thought him to be. Plus, with the way the Terps have shut down the top two face-off men in college lacrosse in back-to-back rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if the duo of Austin Henningsen and Jon Garino also figure out Withers early like they did with Baptiste and Irelan and hold him to 50% or under on the day. 2. Matchups to watch. Ohio State is a very very good defensive team and decent on offense. Maryland is a very very good offensive team and above average on defense. Obviously we saw in the two earlier matchups between these team (regular season and Big Ten Championship) that the games played are always very close, one-goal games. Tim Muller (UMD) v. Tre Leclaire (OSU): Muller has only faced TLC once this season although they’ve played twice. To put it simply, Leclaire kinda smoked him. Right now, Muller is playing some of the best lacrosse I’ve ever seen from him and I don’t expect Laclaire to score more than 2 goals. Second matchup, Ben Randall (OSU) v. Matt Rambo (UMD): I talked about it earlier but I honest to god don’t think theres been more of a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses since Lyle Thompson. Rambo is big, physical, and his combo of vision and passion is deadly from ‘X’. On the other side of things, Randall SHUT DOWN fellow First Team All-American Pat Spencer in the first round, holding him to only one goal and no assists which is impressive as Spencer finished the season with 55 assists. And just when you thought the kid was done, he did it again to Justin Guterding. I guess 2 and 2 isn’t crazy but after the first round performance Guterding flashed (4G, 6A v. Johns Fucking Hopkins) it’s definitely impressive. 3. Another thing I mentioned earlier but like seriously what is the deal with the blond dye in the hair of 90% of the Ohio State team. No offense to the 1998 Romanian National Soccer Team or swimmers when they do it before they shave their heads but like seriously? Thats the best like team building exercise you could come up with? Nick Myers I get you’re rigid but seriously you can come up with some better ideas.
1975 was 42 years ago. Third time’s the charm, and this is the year of the Terp.
Date/Time/Channel Info: Monday, May 29 @ 12:00 ET on ESPN2
Prediction: #1 Maryland 12 – #3 Ohio State 11
O/U+Moneyline: Over (20.5) / Maryland – 155 / Ohio State +1.5