It is almost here. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the NCAA lacrosse tournament, and with it comes speculation, prediction and uncertainty. This year has been anything but predictable, with the polls being vastly different from week to week during the regular season.
Now that the stage is set, let us take a look at some questions that will be answered in the first round of the tournament.
These questions are in no particular order.
Can Detroit make it a game against Notre Dame?
Detroit has done well to make the tournament, but let's be honest, they do not deserve to be there. Detroit qualified by winning their conference tournament and gaining an automatic bid. They will face Notre Dame in South Bend this weekend, a team known for gritty defense during tournament games.
Detroit is 5-9, with two of those wins coming in their league tournament games. You could say they are on a roll, but the competition hasn't exactly been top notch. They had one tournament team on their regular season schedule (Ohio State), and lost the game by six goals. It was not much of a game.
Detroit should be proud of what they accomplished late in the year, but can it even compete with the nation's elite? We shall see.
How many points will the Thompsons combine to score?
If you have not seen the Thompson trio of Albany this year, be sure not to miss them this weekend. The three family members have combined to score more points than 20 division one teams, and should put on a show against Denver. They may not win the game, but this looks to be a track meet with a ton of scoring.
Lyle Thompson leads the nation with a ridiculous 108 points on the year, and needs only six more to break the single-season NCAA mark. Every play he makes is a highlight, and when combined with the scoring ability of his brother and cousin, Albany is plain scary on offense.
Denver is certainly talented, but the Thompson trio can put up points on everyone, regardless of skill level or ranking. Can the Thompson's combine for 15 points or more? I would not put it past them.
How good is Lehigh?
Lehigh has had a fantastic 12-win season and played well on its way to the Patriot League championship. It beat Bucknell, the first team left out of the tournament, in the conference final, and now has an opportunity to make noise as they travel to Chapel Hill to face the Tar Heels of North Carolina.
Carolina has one of the most talented rosters in the country, but do not count Lehigh out in this one. The Patriot League is a quality conference, and Lehigh dominated it this year. Many people have seen UNC multiple times on TV this year, and may be unfamiliar with the talent of the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh will be facing a tough team on its home turf, but the Mountain Hawks really have an opportunity to turn heads with a strong performance. If they can keep it close going into the final quarter, you never know what could happen.
Is the Maryland/Cornell matchup the best first-round game ever?
Midway through the regular season, a Maryland-Cornell matchup seemed like a good bet for the national championship or Final Four. Instead, these two skilled teams will go at it in the round of 16.
Cornell boasts one of the most productive offenses in the country, lead by Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Rob Pannell. He and linemate Steve Mock are genies with the ball, and know where each other are at all times.
Maryland, on the other hand, has a tough defense led by senior goaltender Niko Amato. Maryland can also score a ton of goals, but has some offensive woes during the regular season. The Terps' first two midfield lines are fast and strong, providing a challenge for any defensive unit.
Both of these teams lost in their conference tournament, and now have the challenge of a very intense first-round game. It could be the best first-round game of all time, but a blowout either way would certainly put that argument to rest. This game is truly a must-see event.
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