This weekend will be full of lacrosse action as the remaining eight teams in the nation take the field hoping to get a chance to play in the Final Four next weekend.
In a season marked by unpredictability and parity, it is easy to figure that the quarterfinal games may surprise many fans.
Let us take a look at my four bold predictions for the quarterfinal round.
These are in no particular order.
Duke will beat Notre Dame in blowout fashion
Notre Dame struggled in the first round against a Detroit team that it should have cruised past. The Irish defense was questionable at best, and ND relied on a big second-half rally to escape with a victory.
This week, the Irish take on a Duke squad loaded with speed and talent. Duke has been tested against a tough ACC schedule, and is always coached well in tournament games.
Duke needed two overtimes to defeat Loyola in the first round, but played gritty defense late in the game.
After watching these two teams in their initial tournament games, I see Duke winning in a landslide. Notre Dame just looked too vulnerable, and Duke is a confident bunch looking to return to the semifinals in Philly on Memorial Day weekend.
Cornell will score more than 15 goals
Last weekend, the Cornell Big Red put up 16 goals against a talented Maryland defense. Cornell won on the Terps' home turf, and will return to MD to face Ohio State in the quarterfinals.
Rob Pannell and Steve Mock are dynamic for Cornell, and have chemistry that rivals that of any other duo in college lacrosse.
Cornell has been winning faceoffs, dodging well and taking quality shots. In addition, the Big Red defense has been improving steadily as the season has progressed.
Look for Cornell to put up huge numbers on offense. Rob Pannell is the remaining front-runner for the Tewaaraton Trophy, and a return to championship weekend could clinch the award for the senior attacker.
Yale will take down No. 1 Syracuse
I am not sold on the Syracuse Orange. I did not think Syracuse deserved the top seed, and am convinced that it will have trouble with a hot Yale Bulldog team this weekend.
Yale won the Ivy League tournament to gain entry to the tournament, and has been playing really great lacrosse on both ends of the field. Yale features a tough defense that can match up in a man-on-man scenario, and its offense can keep pace with any team in the nation.
In no way do I see this being a blowout, but I do see Yale winning a close one in the end. This game may not be on everyone's radar as a great one to watch, but I suspect that Yale will continue its hot streak.
Keep and eye on Yale attacker Brandon Mangan, and don't forget about the Bulldogs' ability to shut down the opposition's best player.
UNC and Denver will combine for 30 or more goals
If you only get to watch one game this weekend, make sure it is the showdown between the Denver Pioneers and North Carolina Tar Heels.
Both teams are electric on offense, and love to turn games into track meets. This will be a fast-paced game that will most likely come down to the wire.
Faceoffs will be essential, with the benefactor being able to dictate the pace of play and time of possession.
North Carolina was impressive in its big 16-7 victory over Lehigh in the first round, while Denver scored 19 goals to defeat a high-powered Albany squad that many thought was capable of the upset.
To be honest, this prediction may not be as bold as it seems, with both teams proving that they can score goals at will.
Keep an eye on UNC's Marcus Holman and Denver's Wesley Berg—both players are game changers that can put up a ton of points.
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