Preseason polls tend to be more provocative than they are profound.
Before we jump into our D1 Recap, let’s rewind back to back to February to look at the Big Ten Preseason Poll.
Mayland was the media’s unanimous number-one pick. The Terps were the easy pick. They were 33-1 in the previous two seasons and the defending national champions. Sure they lost a number of their top offensive players, but they would be elite at faceoff with Luke Wierman, in goal by Logan McNaney, and anchored defensively with Brett Makar, and Ajax Zapitello.
The Terps lost Wierman to a lower-body injury in February. Wierman, Makar, and Zapitello have done their job, but it hasn’t been enough. Penn State and Johns Hopkins were named co-Big Ten Champions and earned the top two seeds in the Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland finished Big Ten play at 3-2, with a surprising loss to Michigan a few weeks ago and a one-goal loss to Johns Hopkins on Saturday night at home. While disappointing, the Terps are in good shape for an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Rutgers and Ohio State, picked to finish #2 and #3 respectively in the preseason, are likely staying home in May. Both finished with disappointing 1-4 conference records and last in the Big Ten. Rutgers will travel to College Park and Ohio State will travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday in the Big Ten Tournament’s quarterfinal matchups. Both will likely need to win at least two games and likely the tournament to make the NCAA tournament. Here is a closer look at the Big Ten co-Champions.
Many in the media have questioned if Johns Hopkins is back this season. Coming into the season, many in the media and Jays fans wondered what success would look like in 2023. The Jays have the second-toughest schedule in the season. In Peter Milliman’s first two seasons, the Jays disappointed and often looked overmatched. Those questions were answered Saturday night.
Johns Hopkins defeated Maryland 12-11 in College Park. The Jays outscored the Terps 8-6 over the final two quarters to bring The Rivalry trophy back home to Baltimore for the first time since 2019.
With the win, the Jays wrapped up the regular season 11-4, co-Big Ten Champions, and #2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The Jays have a home-field advantage as they host the Big Ten Tournament. The Jays are 6-2 at home this season and will face the winner of the Maryland and Rutgers matchup this weekend. They will also likely earn a top-eight seed in the NCAA tournament and host a first-round game at Homewood.
Penn State wrapped up its share of the Big Ten championship with its 14-5 victory over Rutgers. The Nittany Lions held the Scarlet Knights for their lowest output of the season. It was the fourth straight conference win after an opening loss to Maryland.
Defense is the calling card of this year’s Penn State Lacrosse team. They have a top-three defense and have shut down top offenses all season. Penn State also could stake a claim at the Ivy League championship after defeating Yale, Penn, and Cornell earlier this season.
Their overtime win over Johns Hopkins two weeks ago allowed Penn State to capture the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They will be off this weekend and await the winner of Michigan and Ohio State. With their strong resume, the Nittany Lions will also be in line to host an opening-round game of the NCAA tournament.
Lacrosse Reference Bracketology
A few weeks, it looked like the Big Ten could send five or six teams to the NCAA tournament. Late-season slides by Rutgers, Ohio State, and Michigan makes it likely that the Big Ten will only have two at-large spots along with their automatic qualifying champion. Here is the latest projection from Lacrosse Reference on potential conference bids.
ACC: The Triumvirate of Notre Dame, Duke, and Virginia are in. They are also likely to earn the top three seeds in the tournament. North Carolina’s late season losses to Syracuse last week and Notre Dame this weekend all but dispatched the Tar Heels’ chances. They host Notre Dame again this weekend, but their odds are long at best. Syracuse also was surging winning five of their last six games before losing to Virginia this weekend. They travel to Durham this weekend and seem like long shots to win or make the tournament. Btw, we had mixed reviews on the new Irish helmets this weekend…
IVY: Cornell seems like a lock. The rest of the Ivies will be sending Christmas cards for their one-week appearances in the NCAA Tournament this season. Penn and Yale both have strong RPI’s but just do not pass the eye test. I just can’t get the twenty-burgers from Yale out of my mind.
Big East: Another beneficiary of the Big Ten struggles. It looks like three teams Denver, Villanova, and Georgetown will be competing for two spots. Beware of playing Marquette. The Golden Eagles have taken Georgetown and Villanova to overtime in the last two weeks. Marquette hosts the Big East tournament this year. The big three would be best served to win the AQ, but the path will be challenging.
Patriot: Army wrapped up a perfect season in Patriot League play with their win over Navy. Boston University appears to pose the biggest threat to the Black Knights. Loyola has seemingly fallen off at the end of the season. The Hounds were rolled on Tuesday night against Georgetown.
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