Editor’s Note: This recurring series is written by Billy Costigan.
We’re down to eight teams left competing to hoist the trophy on Memorial Day. Let’s take a quick look at what happened in the first round and then dive into the upcoming quarterfinal matchups this weekend.
It’s shaping up to be another great weekend of games to enjoy whether you have money on the line or not!
Week 14 Recap
Last weekend (week 14) did not disappoint! While it wasn’t our best weekend on the betting board going 3-3 with our bets, by sticking to our flat betting system of 1 unit per play, we kept losses to just -0.5 units. This is something we can easily recover from and helps illustrate the importance of grinding out a flat betting model. Plus we did get to enjoy watching some amazing lacrosse all weekend!
Ohio State and Boston University surprisingly let us down, falling short last week. Although there was probably no greater surprise than Delaware’s upset of Georgetown! The Hoyas seemed to have played down to competition a bit too much this season and this time it caused their season to be cut rather short.
On the flip side both teams from last year’s national title game (Virginia and Maryland) easily covered. I was really hoping we might get this rematch for the title game again this year, but the way the bracket fell, that rematch comes in round 2 this time instead of on Memorial Day.
While I thought they may have had a deeper run in them, the St. Joseph’s Hawks saw their campaign end in a 18-16 loss to Yale. What a game though! Back and forth the whole time, extremely high scoring and high paced. This one is worth a rewatch. Most importantly though St. Joseph’s got the cover as +3.5 point underdogs.
Remember, good teams win but great teams cover!
Week 15 Report
Saturday 12pm Penn +1.5 (-125) ML +110 vs Rutgers -1.5 (-105) ML -140
Over 25.5 (-115) / Under 25.5 (-115)
Kicking off round 2 features 3rd seeded Ivy league Champion University of Pennsylvania vs #6 seeded Rutgers. This is a battle of a tried and true blue blood conference in the Ivy League against a new up and coming Big 10 opponent. Rutgers has been very solid last season and this current one. Last week we saw 3 of the 5 Ivy’s advance with Brown falling to defending champion Virginia and Harvard (who didn’t belong in the tournament) losing to Rutgers. While Rutgers did get a victory over an Ivy last week, they are facing much steeper competition in Penn. Rutgers has the edge in caused turnovers, clear percentage, and man down defense while Penn ranks higher in ground balls, face off percentage, and man up offense. On the advanced side of the statistics Rutgers has the more efficient offense and defense, but playing a much tougher schedule Penn has the stronger Lax ELO Rating, RPI, and Strength of Schedule according to Lacrosse Reference. Rutgers has gone over the total of 25.5 a total of 5 times this season and under it 10 times with their 6th ranking in offensive pacing. Penn has gone over the 25.5 total 8 times this year and under it 9 times with their 33rd ranking in offensive pacing. This total might be a little too tough to play though while both teams have good pacing and offensive efficiency numbers, they have very efficient defenses as well. Also worried Colin Kirst could be a brick wall in the net again for Rutgers. I will admit that Rutgers does scare me a bit, but I think I’m going to have to side with Penn here. This line actually opened with Penn a -1.5 point favorite and flipped to make Rutgers the favorite. In a lot of situations you’ve probably heard me jumping on a dog to favorite flip. However I liked Penn as a favorite and now love them as a dog. I think Rutgers will find a much tougher opponent from the Ivy this week and I’m counting on Penn to keep it within 1 or maybe get the outright win.
Pick: BET Penn +1.5 (-125)
Saturday 2:30pm Yale +1.5 (-135) ML +105 vs Princeton -1.5 (+105) ML -135
Over 28.5 (-105) / Under 28.5 (-125)
The 2nd game of the weekend is 4th seeded Yale vs 5th seeded Princeton. In this contest though it’s Ivy vs Ivy with two squads that are no stranger to each other. Princeton holds the lead in caused turnovers, ground balls, clearing percentage, and turnovers given up while Yale has the edge in face off percentage as well as both man up and man down special teams. Princeton also has the more efficient offense and defense according to Lacrosse Reference while Yale out ranks them in roster depth and Lax ELO Rating. Both teams handled Boston University and Dartmouth well this year. Princeton did defeat Brown and Penn while Yale lost to Brown and split with Penn 1 win and 1 loss. However Yale did defeat both Harvard and Cornell who Princeton lost too. Also in their head to head matchup on March 26th, Yale defeated Princeton 14-12. The total is 28.5 which Yale has gone over 9 times this season and under 7 times with its 10th ranked offensive pace, while Princeton has gone over that mark only 4 times and under 10 with its 20th ranked offensive pace. This game in theory has another close matchup written all over it and personally I would have maybe made Yale the favorite myself but can see where the statistics made lower seeded Princeton the favorite. So give me Yale to deliver another great Ivy League battle.
Pick: BET Yale +1.5 (-135)
Sunday 12pm Cornell -2.5 (-130) ML -280 vs Delaware +2.5 (+100) ML +210
Over 25.5 (-115) / Under 25.5 (-115)
To start off Sunday’s quarterfinal matchups we see 7th seeded Cornell vs play-in team Colonial Athletic Association Champion Delaware. It’s another Ivy vs a historically less successful conference team. Cornell leads in caused turnovers, ground balls, man up offense, and man down defense while Delaware has the edge in clearing percentage, faceoff percentage, and turnovers given up. The advanced statistics from Lacrosse Reference get even more interesting and paint a good picture of the tough question to answer here. Delaware has the more efficient offense and defense as well as the lead in roster depth (indicating more equal distribution of contributions among more players). However Cornell outranks them in Lax ELO Rating, RPI, strength of record, and strength of schedule. So it becomes, do you believe that Delaware’s competition this year was strong enough to really put stock in where they lead statistically or do Cornell’s statistics indicating much tougher competition hold the real merit? I’m not going to lie, my first thought is to trust Cornell but Delaware upsetting Georgetown was quite a shock last Sunday (although in hindsight it shouldn’t have been). For the total of 25.5, Cornell has gone over 6 times and under 10 while Delaware has gone over that mark 8 times and under 10. Cornell only has the 38th most efficient defense and ranks 56th in offensive pace. Delaware has a very efficient defense coming in at 7th but also ranks 25th in offensive pace. These solid defenses and not super high offensive pace numbers combined with both teams going under 25.5 more than over has me looking at a play on the under here. It also helps sway my decision that unders have held the lead cashing more often than overs so far this season.
Pick: BET Under 25.5 (-115)
LEAN: Cornell -2.5 (-130)
Sunday 2pm Maryland -4.5 (-120) ML -600 vs Virginia +4.5 (-110) ML +385
Over 29.5 (+100) / Under 29.5 (-130)
Capping off the weekend and this quarterfinal round is a rematch of last year’s title game featuring 1st seeded Big 10 Champion Maryland vs (shockingly and wrongly unseeded) ACC Co-Champion Virginia. I’ve been waiting for this game since last Memorial Day and hoping it would come in the title match again. Unfortunately the selection committee somehow left Virginia not seeded opting to seed 3 at large Ivy’s instead (one of whom was Brown, who Vriginia crushed last week). This means we will have to see these two squads who are no stranger to championship weekend meet instead this year just for the right to make it to Memorial Day weekend. According to the statistics Virginia only leads Maryland in ground balls, man up offense, man down defense, offensive pacing, and roster depth. But this isn’t all that surprising given what a freight train Maryland has been this year, they lead the nation in most categories. However Virginia is no JV squad and where Maryland is right at the top of most statistics, Virginia is often close behind just a few spots back. Both teams handled their mutual opponents well, getting victories over Syracuse, Hopkins, and Notre Dame. Their first head to head matchup wasn’t a pretty final score for Virginia losing 23-12. However if you watched that game you might, like me, think it was actually a lot closer and kind of got away from Virginia in the end. Virginia was my pre-season pick to win it all despite how hard it is to 3-peat. However I wouldn’t knock anyone who has taken Maryland as their pick to hoist the trophy as the season unfolded. As a 2007 Patriots fan though I’m all too well aware of how hard it is for any team to remain undefeated for an entire season. I’m not saying Maryland is going to lose for sure here. What I am saying is that I believe too much in the Lars Tiffiany led Virginia squad with the likes of Connor Shellenbreger, Petey Lasalla, and Matt Moore to give us anything but a close fought battle here. You better believe the boy’s in Charlottesville have been thinking about and preparing for this matchup since their March 26th defeat to Maryland. Have faith in Virginia to have made enough adjustments and take the Cavaliers plus the points!
Pick: BET Virginia +4.5 (-110)
LEAN: Over 29.5 (+100)
Sport Betting Tips & Conclusion
I hope you enjoyed my previews of this weekend’s quarterfinal matchups and that you’re as excited to watch as I am!
The playoffs can be one of the most exciting to watch but difficult to bet parts of any season. But remember the sports betting strategies I’ve been harping on and you should be okay.
You’ve got to practice bankroll management and pick an appropriate unit size. Did last week’s opening round shake your confidence? There’s no shame especially in a volatile time like the playoffs to even decrease your wager amount from a unit to a half unit temporarily. But in general you don’t want to be risking more than a unit on any single straight bet on one match.
Also now more than ever you want to build as strong a case as possible before placing a wager. Just because I previewed all 4 games does not mean you must bet all four though. The sportsbooks posting lines on every game and a bettor only having to choose the lines they like, is often where the bettor can gain an advantage. I’d also recommend now more than ever, between rounds, going back and watching as many game replays as possible of the teams you’re thinking of betting on.
So here to a great rest of the May Madness!
Be sure to check out my twitter for more updates and plays throughout the weekend and as always my DM’s are open with any questions you may have about lacrosse or sports betting @bCostigan84.
Best of luck and let’s cash some bets!