Finally, it is tournament time.
Time to separate the contenders from the pretenders and figure out who is the best men's team in Division I college lacrosse.
The 2013 campaign brought new rules, an increased pace of play, more scoring and perhaps the most unpredictable season in the history of the sport.
This weekend, the NCAA tournament will begin with eight games that are sure to keep any lacrosse fan on the edge of their seat. The way things have been going, I expect plenty of upsets and very few games that are decided early.
Let's take a look at four of this weekend's eight games and preview what we can look for as the teams compete for a chance at a national title run.
No. 1 Syracuse vs. Bryant
Syracuse won the Big East title on its way to the top seed in this year's NCAA tournament. The Orange have been playing their best lacrosse as of late and have steadied a defensive unit that was inconsistent at the beginning of the regular season.
Bryant enters the tournament at 8-10, gaining entry through winning its conference tournament. Bryant head coach Mike Pressler has done a great job to get his team this far, but facing Syracuse is not what the doctor ordered.
Bryant has yet to play anyone as good as Syracuse and will be shocked by their speed and ability to get production from their second midfield unit. Look for the midfield to run Bryant out of the building. Syracuse wins 15-6.
No. 2 Notre Dame vs. Detroit
Detroit does not deserve to be in the tournament, but that is the beauty of automatic qualifiers via conference tournaments. Detroit beat Siena to win the conference and now has the opportunity to play Notre Dame in South Bend this weekend.
Getting to the tournament is reason for celebration for Detroit, but Notre Dame will be the ones celebrating after this one. If you are going to have to skip a game this weekend, walk your dog during this one. Notre Dame wins 13-4.
No. 3 Ohio State vs. Towson
Towson was able to beat a talented Penn State team to gain the automatic bid out of the CAA. Ohio State took down Loyola and Denver to take the ECAC crown, proving it can play with anyone in the country.
Towson is a gritty Baltimore team that is looking to play the spoiler. Ohio State got a favorable seed in the tournament, but its first-round game will certainly be tough. This could be a game on upset alert, and I think Towson will catch OSU with its guard down after big wins in the ECAC tournament. Towson advances 11-10.
No. 4 Denver vs. Albany
This should be one of the most fun games to watch this weekend. In fact, it may be the most entertaining game of the tournament. Both teams are fast, and both teams can score a ton of goals.
Lyle Thompson of Albany has the opportunity to break the single-season points record with a big day against the Pioneers. He, his brother Miles and his cousin Ty have combined for more points than 20 Division I teams and will not take their foot off of the gas pedal this weekend.
Denver head coach Bill Tierney is a tournament veteran and will most likely look to slow down the ball and keep it away from the Thompson trio. This will be a shootout, with the faceoff battle deciding it in the end. Whichever team has the ball more will win, but this will be a tight one throughout.
This one could go either way, but I see Denver controlling faceoffs and proving itself in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers win a wild one, 17-15.
How do you see things shaping out?
Check back later as I predict the second half of this weekend's tournament games.
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