NCAA Lacrosse: Questions to Be Answered During the Quarterfinal Round
As we head towards the Final Four in Philadelphia, eight teams will take the field in the quarterfinal round, hoping to punch their ticket to the city of brotherly love.
The games will be spread out over two days, with all four games being nationally televised on the ESPN family of networks on Saturday and Sunday.
After an exciting first-round of games, lacrosse fans can expect more thrilling action as the remaining eight teams look to prove themselves on lacrosse's biggest stage.
As the competition heats up, let us take a look at some of the biggest questions that will be answered this weekend during the quarterfinals.
These questions are in no particular order.
Will Bill Tierney out-coach Joe Breschi?
When Denver takes the field against North Carolina this weekend, the eyes will not only be on the players, but the coaches as well. Two of the best coaches in the nation, Bill Tierney and Joe Breschi, of Denver and UNC respectively, are looking to secure a spot in the Final Four in what should be one of the better games this weekend.
Bill Tierney is an all-time great. He won six National Championships during his tenure at Princeton, and has proven to be a tough coach who knows how to win big tournament games.
Joe Breschi, on the other hand, has no titles, but has done wonders for UNC after leaving Ohio State to take the helm in Chapel Hill. He is a recruiting master, proven by the depth and skill of his current roster.
This game showcases two of the fastest and high scoring offenses in the nation, meaning that the fourth quarter will be pivotal. When it comes down to the final few minutes, the coaches will show their true grit.
This will be a game of match-ups and scoring runs, and the coach that can better handle his team late in the game will find themselves and their team in Philadelphia next week.
How good is Ohio State?
Ohio State is arguably the hottest team in the nation. The Buckeyes impressed the lacrosse world by winning the ECAC Championship and taking down Loyola and Denver along the way. Since then, Ohio State cruised by Towson in the first round, and now must face the Cornell Big Red.
Will Ohio State beat Cornell?
Cornell will be a big test for the Buckeyes, but also gives the team an opportunity to prove that they are for real. Many fans got their first glimpse of OSU last weekend, and will certainly be watching to see if Ohio State can compete with one of the most elite teams in the nation.
If Ohio State can win the game, not only will it be good for their program, but it will be great for the game as its popularity spreads west.
Will there be two Ivy League teams in the Final Four?
Cornell and Yale will both be taking the field this weekend. Cornell lost in the first round of the Ivy League Tournament to Princeton, while Yale defeated the Tigers in the championship to take home the league title.
Yale played well last weekend, using a second-half rally to defeat Penn State on its home turf. Brandon Mangan and the rest of the Bulldog offense can score with anyone, but their success at the face-off X has been the difference in their recent games.
Yale will face No. 1 Syracuse this weekend, giving it an opportunity to keep up their stellar play and turn some heads while doing so. Syracuse may be favored, but Yale has a great chance to win this game.
Cornell will be tested against Ohio State, as 16 Big Red seniors look to return to the Final Four. Cornell may be the away team in this game, but it is a superior team. Rob Pannell and Steve Mock are tremendous on offense, and senior goaltender AJ Fiore has been playing well as of late.
With both Yale and Cornell playing well right now, the Ivy League may very well have two participants in the 2013 Final Four in Philly.
Can Notre Dame rebound after struggling against Detroit?
In what should have been the biggest blowout of the first round, Notre Dame struggled against the No. 15 seed Detroit Mercy in the first round. The Irish defense played terribly, and Detroit was able to control the pace of play.
This weekend, Notre Dame will face the Duke Blue Devils, a team that comes out of the toughest conference in the nation.
Will ND beat Duke?
Duke is a much better team than Detroit, and the Blue Devils can play gritty defense late in games. Duke is well coached, and the coaching staff will certainly pay close attention to the game film from Notre Dame's last game. If the coaches can make the right adjustments, Duke will win this game.
Notre Dame is a great team, but its performance last weekend made me weary of favoring the Irish in this game. If coach Kevin Corrigan can get his team playing well again, this could be a tight game throughout.
Notre Dame must keep it close. There is no way Duke will give up a second half rally as easily as Detroit did a week ago.
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