It is judgement week in college lacrosse. This weekend's games will give us a clearer picture of the NCAA brackets and separate the contenders from those who will not experience postseason play. With many marquee matchups being played across the country, regular-season conference champions can be determined, while those looking for at-large bids are playing must-win games.
Let's preview and predict every game across the lacrosse landscape this weekend.
Virginia vs. Duke
UVA is having a bad year. They are most likely going to miss postseason play, barring a big run in the ACC tournament. This matchup with Duke is a big one, with the Blue Devils playing good lacrosse at this point in time. Duke enters the weekend as the No. 8 team in the nation and has already beaten a surging UNC team. As they look to get a high seed in the bracket, this game gives Virginia the opportunity to play spoiler. Unfortunately, their downward spiral is in full effect.
Duke wins 12-9.
Brown vs. Yale
Yale is having a steadily successful season. They enter the game ranked 17th in the nation and look to improve their Ivy League record. Having seen both of these teams in person this year, I have seen that both offenses are potent, and the goaltending may be the deciding factor in the outcome. In a tight league race, this is a must-win for Yale.
Yale wins at home in a tight one, 11-10.
Lehigh vs. Bucknell
No. 19 Lehigh will travel to face No. 11 Bucknell this weekend. This is a big game as far as the Patriot League is concerned, with Bucknell looking to ice a conference championship late in the season. I thought Bucknell would have it wrapped up by now, but other Patriot league foes (including Lehigh) are capable of winning big games against the nation's best teams.
Lehigh wins on the road, 13-10.
Canisius vs. Manhattan
Canisius has only one victory in 2013, while Manhattan has three wins on their resume so far. Manhattan has talent on the defensive side of the ball, and their goalie is definitely capable of winning this game for his team. This could be a low scoring affair, but no way Canisius wins this one on the road.
Manhattan wins, 8-4.
Marquette vs. High Point
Two first-year Division I teams will face each other in North Carolina this weekend. High Point and Marquette have both played tough in their first year of real competition. High Point has three wins, while Marquette has two. It seems that High Point can score the ball, which will bode well against an inconsistent Marquette defense. Both teams have got to believe they are capable of the win, so this should be a dandy.
Will Loyola beat Denver?
High Point wins 12-10.
Marist vs. Jacksonville
Marist, now 7-2, has a very easy schedule, but they are handling business on a consistent basis. Jacksonville, at 6-3, is also overachieving and will look to have the weather in their favor at home on Saturday. Jacksonville may keep it close, but the talented Marist team will prevail after 60 hard-fought minutes.
Marist wins 9-6.
Drexel vs. UMass
Drexel is ranked No. 18 in the polls this week and has a solid chance of making the NCAA tournament. UMass enters the game at 5-6 but has talent on their roster. Don't get it confused, although UMass may be the bigger name, Drexel is a really good team.
Drexel wins on the road, 15-12.
Delaware vs. St. Joseph's
Delaware is having a rough year, and St. Joe's will look to take advantage of it this weekend. In a battle for recruiting territory, Delaware needs to make a statement and get a big win away from home. Delaware may not be good this year, but they will rebound. The rebound starts this weekend.
Delaware wins 10-8.
Denver vs. Loyola
In what may be the best game this weekend, these two ECAC school's will duke it out for conference supremacy. I am still not convinced of Loyola's talent, as they haven't played many tough opponents thus far. Denver's speed will shock the Greyhounds and should lead the Pioneers to a victory on the road.
Denver wins 14-9.
Hartford vs. Binghamton
These two teams will not be in the NCAA tournament, but there is still a lot of glory to play for. Both teams are .500 at the moment, and a winning season would make either team happy in 2013. I see this one coming down to faceoffs, with Hartford getting the edge.
Hartford wins 11-10.
Hobart vs. Bellarmine
Hobart will have their hands full as they go up against Bellarmine and the most talented goalie in the nation. Bellarmine is playing great lacrosse and finds itself in the Top-20 rankings this week. They will hold serve and take care of Hobart.
Bellarmine wins 12-10.
Bryant vs. Wagner
Bryant enters at 4-8, while Wagner is a dismal 1-9. At this point, Wagner needs a makeover to their program, which will become even more evident after Bryant exposes them. Bryant has four players with over 20 points this year, and some of them may get to 30 this weekend.
Bryant wins big, 14-6.
Towson vs. Penn State
A big game for both programs as Penn State looks to make a tourney run and Towson looks to play the spoiler. Penn State is rolling right now and is debuting some new helmets this weekend. Towson will play tough, but new swagger and home-field advantage will allow the Nittany Lions to prevail.
Penn State wins 13-12.
Princeton vs. Dartmouth
Princeton, coming off of a mid-week win over Rutgers, will travel to face Ivy League foe Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Dartmouth is having a rough year, and Princeton is in must-win mode as they look to keep pace with Cornell.
Princeton takes care of business, 14-7.
Penn vs. Harvard
Penn is also trying to keep pace in the Ivy League. Unfortunately for them, they will travel to face a Harvard team that is due for a big win. Harvard has played both Cornell and Duke down to the wire but couldn't close out victories. This week, the Crimson finally pull one out.
Harvard wins 13-12.
Detroit vs. Siena
Detroit has two wins this year and is coming off of a surprising victory against Manhattan. Siena is 4-7 and is looking to add to that total at home this Saturday. Detroit may be on a roll, but this one might be tough for the Titans.
Siena wins 10-6.
Rutgers vs. Syracuse
Syracuse has just beaten Princeton and Cornell in consecutive games and is looking to make a run at a high seed in the tournament bracket. Rutgers is not playing well and has an injury to their starting goaltender. Syracuse might make this one look ugly.
Orange win in the dome, 18-9.
Albany vs. Vermont
The trio of Thompsons on Albany are point machines, while Vermont's defense is subpar. Albany is a really fun team to watch and has some quality victories on their tournament resume already.
Albany wins big, 16-6.
Army vs. Navy
Always a big game when these two meet on the playing field, Army will lean on their potent offense to take down a Navy team that has regressed over the past decade. Army will score a ton of goals, and Navy might have trouble keeping up.
Army wins the rivalry this year, 12-8.
Air Force vs. Fairfield
This should be a very even matchup as both teams look to improve their records. Fairfield has played some very good opponents and may be better prepared as they host the Falcons of Air Force. Both teams will look to speed up the pace, but Fairfield will prevail in the end.
Fairfield wins 9-7.
Villanova vs. St. John's
This is a huge game in the race for the Big East championship. Kieran McArdle leads St. John's in scoring and just might be the best player in the nation. Villanova has played better of late and is lucky to be in contention for the league crown. This one will be close, and I see Villanova pulling the upset.
'Nova wins 12-11.
Johns Hopkins vs. Maryland
Another big game with two big name schools. Maryland is No. 1 in the nation, and Hopkins is in unfamiliar territory as they are ranked 15th. Hopkins really needs this game, but Maryland is loaded at every position. Maryland struts their stuff big time in this one.
Terps win 13-10.
Ohio State vs. Michigan
Ohio State comes into this game ranked 13th in the nation, while Michigan is in their first year as a Division I program. An age old rivalry will take its first turn on the lacrosse field. Unfortunately for Michigan, it may take a few years before they start to compete with the Buckeyes.
OSU wins 14-5.
UMBC vs. Stony Brook
Stony Brook will look to go two games above .500 in this one, while UMBC is just trying to break even in 2013. Stony Brook may not be the lethal tournament team of a year ago, but they can score goals out there on Long Island. Could be a good one, but UMBC will have a long day.
Stony Brook takes it, 13-11.
Colgate vs. Lafayette
Colgate is in the middle of a three-team squeeze in the Patriot League. Peter Baum and the rest of the Colgate offense should have a field day against Lafayette, who has been struggling this year. Look for Colgate to make a statement in this one.
Colgate wins 13-6.
Providence vs. Holy Cross
How many years before Michigan can beat Ohio State?
Providence and Holy Cross are both improved teams looking to build up program confidence by winning games late in the year. This should be an even match, so I will give the edge to home-field advantage.
Holy Cross wins 9-6.
North Carolina vs. Hofstra
UNC is a major player for a national title run but will have its hands full with a talented Hofstra team that has underachieved so far. The Pride were in the Top-10 just a few weeks ago but have since fallen from the national rankings. UNC's roster is just too good, but I wouldn't be shocked if this came down to the wire.
UNC wins 14-9.
Quinnipiac vs. Sacred Heart
Neither team in this one is looking at taking part in postseason play, but this should be a highly contested game nevertheless. Sacred Heart has a lot of talented youngsters, but 2013 just is not its year. Quinnipiac should win this one.
Quinnipiac wins 12-6.
Georgetown vs. Notre Dame
Georgetown is coming off of a big win against St. John's, a team that upset Notre Dame earlier in the year. Georgetown will look to play spoiler once again, but Notre Dame is playing with a lot on the line. ND always plays tough defense late in the year, which will make the difference in this one.
Notre Dame at home, 12-8.
Mercer vs. Virginia Military Institute
VMI is having a tough time beating anyone, and Mercer isn't a whole lot better. Fortunately for Mercer, VMI has proven to be the worst team in Division I, so Mercer should be able to cruise to a victory.
Mercer wins on the road, 7-3.
Mount St. Mary's vs. Robert Morris
Mount St. Mary's is 4-8 this year, but its schedule is one of the toughest in the game. Robert Morris is .500 so far but does not play the same level of competition. Look for Mount St. Mary's to play well, as it must be frustrated with tough losses so far.
The Mount takes it, 10-6.