What We’re Watching: NCAA Playoffs First Round

The road to the National Championship begins Wednesday as the 17 remaining teams have all battled through the regular season for a chance at college lacrosse glory. If we have learned anything from this year of college lacrosse it is that rankings and seedings do not mean much and that anybody can beat anybody in 2019. Expect some heart pounding finishes in the first round of the playoffs as it is now do or die for every team and the players will be selling out to keep their season alive. Here are the matchups for the first round of the NCAA playoffs that we have waited all season to watch.

Wednesday 5/8

Marist vs UMBC
ESPN3 at 7 pm

Marist should have the edge playing on their home field in the play-in game, but UMBC has captured some May Magic and could keep it going. This is a tough game to win as both these teams just won their conference tournaments last Saturday and now play a mid week game with little time to prepare. The winner of this game will face #1 seed Penn State on Sunday.

Saturday 5/11

#8 Loyola vs Syracuse
ESPNU at 12 pm

The marquee player matchup of the first round will be Loyola’s Pat Spencer going up against Syracuse’s Nick Mellen in a clash of arguably the best attackman and defenseman in the country going head to head. Loyola and Syracuse both failed to win their conference championships, but are both hungry to return to Final Four weekend. Will we see another high flying Pat Spencer goal?

#5 Yale vs Georgetown
ESPNU at 2:30 pm

The Bulldogs will battle the Hoyas for the title of who is the best team with a bulldog for a mascot. Yale are the defending national champions and for most of the season have played like they are ready to do it again. Georgetown returns to the playoffs for the second year in a row and will be eager to make it past the first round this time around.

#4 Penn vs Army
ESPNU at 5 pm

Many people counted Penn out after their 0-3 start at the beginning of the season, but since those early struggles they have gone undefeated and found ways to win on their way to an Ivy League Championship. Army’s Aj Barretto is a brick wall in net and they have dangerous players all over the field. They could put an end to Penn’s hot streak as they return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

#3 Virginia vs Robert Morris
ESPNU 7:30 pm

Virginia has been a wrecking ball all season as they battled their way to an ACC Championship. They have not been to a Final Four since they won it all in 2011 and this could be the team to get them back to Championship Weekend. Bobby Mo could definitely put a wrench in their plan if they continue to play with desperation like they did against Mount St Mary’s and Hobart on their way to another NEC Championship.

Sunday 5/12

#1 Penn State vs Marist/UMBC
ESPNU 12 pm

The winner of the play-in game between Marist and UMBC gets to face #1 seed Penn State who is gunning for their first ever NCAA playoff win and definitely wants to be playing on Memorial Day. Will anybody be able to contain Grant Ament and Mac O’Keefe in the playoffs?

#6 Towson vs Maryland
ESPNU 2:30 pm

Both of these teams hail from the state of Maryland, but did not play each other in the regular season. Maryland has one of the deadly offenses in the country, while Towson has dynamic players all over the field and love to run and gun in transition.

#2 Duke vs Richmond
ESPNU 5 pm

Duke always seems to play their best lacrosse in May as Head Coach John Danowski has some kind of secret to success he instills in his teams. Richmond is in the NCAA tourney for the second year in a row and only lost to Duke by 4 goals early this season as they will try for the upset this time around.

#7 Notre Dame vs Johns Hopkins
ESPNU 7:30 pm

Hopkins resurrected its season with its two wins against Maryland in an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game as they snuck their way into the NCAA playoffs past Cornell and other teams on the bubble. The Irish did not have as dominant a season as they have typically had in the past, but they are another team that seems to play their best lacrosse in May.

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The D1 Women’s NCAA playoffs also begin this weekend. Last year James Madison won their first National Championship proving any team can win it all if they get on a roll. Will another new team win or will Maryland or Northwestern take back the title?

D1 Women’s Bracket: https://www.ncaa.com/brackets/lacrosse-women/d1/2019

The men’s Division 2 and Division 3 playoffs also begin this week and with both divisions having some surprise teams make it this year it is hard to predict who will make it to Memorial Day weekend.

D2 Playoff Bracket: https://www.ncaa.com/brackets/lacrosse-men/d2

D3 Playoff Bracket: https://www.ncaa.com/brackets/lacrosse-men/d3

Who do you think will move on to the next round?

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