Sixteen lacrosse teams enter this weekend vying for a chance at the NCAA Lacrosse Championship. Among the favorites are top two seeds, reigning champion Duke and Syracuse. Paul Rabil and Paul Carcaterra, former national champions and hosts of The Lacrosse Show on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, previewed this year’s tournament and the two biggest match-ups this weekend.
No. 3 Loyola (Md.) vs. Albany
“Loyola is a team that played incredible lacrosse the last 11 games,” Carcaterra said. “(They) dominated the competition, including one of the big boys in the ACC, Duke – they beat them by six goals earlier in the season. They lost one game all season long to Virginia. They get a three-seed and they have to deal with Albany.”
Though unranked, Rabil thinks the change in tournament format could help Albany.
I think this year with the expansion of the two extra teams, now two extra games, it hurt even more because as the three-seed they are sort of on the outside looking in, versus Duke and Syracuse. Now Loyola has a first-round opponent of Albany, arguably the most dangerous team out there when it comes to offensive firepower.
No. 5 Denver vs. North Carolina
Carcaterra points out the importance of the history in this matchup.
“To me, that might be the game of the weekend in terms of the fireworks on both ends,” Carcaterra said. “Denver ended North Carolina’s season the last two years. The Tar Heels haven’t been to a Final Four – imagine this with all the talent they’ve had and the top recruiting classes, since 1993.”
Rabil thinks the Denver offense may be too much for North Carolina to handle.
“You’re going to see a lot of movement from Denver, something that you don’t see in the ACC in terms of on-ball and off-ball picks and screens,” Rabil said.
For Rabil, it’s also about Denver’s head coach, Bill Tierney.
I think what they don’t get credit for often is (Tierney’s experience) coaching during the playoffs. He was the guy that invented the loose man-to-man/zone defense … he gets his guys to strap down in the playoffs and he’s always done that.
Tune to The Lacrosse Show next Tuesday at 7 pm ET to hear how the first round of the NCAA tournament played out. The show airs weekly on SiriusXM College Sports Nation (Ch. 91) and on the SiriusXM App.