Editor’s Note: This recurring series is written by Billy Costigan.
Welcome to Week 1 of the Premier Lacrosse League season! I hope you’re ready to watch eight professional teams of the best lacrosse players in the world battle it out over the next fourteen weeks. The road to Philadelphia starts this weekend.
This season the PLL signed a deal with ESPN so that all 47 games will be available on ESPN+ with some games also available on ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC.
It’s also important to note some of the key differences in rules as we switch over from the NCAA to the PLL season.
The PLL is still 10 vs 10 men’s field lacrosse. The PLL games however are a 48 minute running clock, only using stopped time in the last two minutes of each half opposed to NCAA’s 60 minute games that are fully stopped time throughout.
This may lead some initially to believe in a lot lower totals with less time to score. However the PLL makes up for this with two other rule changes. One the PLL field is ten yards shorter to help encourage more transition action. Also the PLL shot clock is only 52 seconds opposed to 80 on a change of possession or 60 after a shot on goal in the NCAA.
Another awesome rule addition to the PLL is the 2 point arc. If a PLL player scores a goal from outside the 15 yard arc it counts for 2 points. This can make an exciting sport even better! Not only can it affect totals but can help cut a deficit quickly. All of the sudden being down 4 goals with a minute left isn’t that impossible to overcome. Especially when you could erase a 4 point deficit with just a couple 2 point goals. Personally I’m dying for them to add a 2 point arc to college lacrosse as well.
If you are just getting into lacrosse or sports betting for this PLL season, or just need a refresher, I highly recommend you go back and review Part 1 and Part 2 of my Guide to Lacrosse Betting.
NCAA Championship Weekend
Before we dive head first into the weekend’s PLL games, I want to briefly touch on last weekend’s NCAA championship weekend.
In the first semi-final of the weekend we saw Cornell defeat Rutgers 17-10. The Scarlet Knights made another great run this season but couldn’t make it all the way. This game was unfortunately higher scoring than expected and went over. However we easily cashed Cornell +1.5 and should have just taken them money-line. The wrong team really was favored here.
The other semi-final saw Maryland continue their dominance in a 13-8 win over Princeton. Again the total gave us trouble but Princeton +6.5 got there. This also turned out to be one of Maryland’s closer games of the year. While I was really hoping that Princeton could spoil Maryland’s season, that was not the case. Maryland would move on to Championship Monday.
Memorial Day brought us a title game matchup between undefeated Maryland and Cornell. Maryland was a -6.5 (-120) favorite and Cornell +6.5 (-110) against the spread. The total was 26.5 juiced -130 to the over and +100 to the under.
The craziest part of the lines for this game was the moneyline. Maryland was -1450 and Cornell +750. It’s understandable why Maryland was such a heavy favorite given their dominance this season. But that has to be one of the steepest single game money-lines I have ever seen.
Even though it didn’t get there, Cornell’s moneyline probably should have been even larger plus money given the size of Maryland’s moneyline. Sometimes though bookmaker’s realize they don’t need to put up the true odds on an underdog, just a number big enough to entice people to bet on it. So if the books think they can get enough bets on Cornell +750 from the public, why offer any higher?
In the end Maryland (to no one’s surprise) completed their undefeated season and won the 2022 NCAA men’s division 1 lacrosse championship. Despite Cornell scoring first and their 5-0 scoring run to end the game, they still fell short to Maryland 9-7 when time expired.
This past NCAA lacrosse season was an awesome ride. I really enjoyed the action and hope you enjoyed my weekly pieces on it.
Now it’s time for professional lacrosse!
PLL Week 1 Report
Whipsnakes -1.5 (-150) Moneyline -210
Chaos +1.5 (+120) Moneyline +170
Over 22.5 (-125) / Under 22.5 (-105)
Saturday 2:15pm ESPN+
To kick off the PLL season we have a rematch of the last two title games between Whipsnakes and Chaos and a series the Whipsnakes lead 5-2 all time.
The Whipsnakes will be without offensive star Zed Williams. Yet the bigger story here is that the Chaos are missing a huge chunk of their squad who are still competing in the National Lacrosse League playoffs.
In the faceoff department Joe Nardella anchors the Whipsnakes having gone 57% last season. The Chaos will be without their solid faceoff man Max Adler who is still competing in the NLL. They also had veteran MLL faceoff man Jerry Ragonese on their training camp roster but have appeared to elect to go with Thomas Kelly instead.
Between the pipes Chaos do still have last year’s MVP and a force to be reckoned with Blaze Riorden. They will need him to play even more above average to hold off the Whipsnakes. It may be difficult for Chaos to generate offense so they’ll have to limit their opponents scoring well.
With the Chaos missing so many players it is tempting to take the Whipsnakes -1.5 against the spread. However the Chaos have defied odds and proved people wrong a few too many times for comfort especially this early in the year.
This game also brings us the lowest total of the week. While it may be low for good reason with the Chaos missing so many players, I actually like the over here. The Whipsnakes should still be able to put up plenty of goals especially if the Chaos are still finding their chemistry as a unit. Also I wouldn’t be super surprised if Andy Towers found a way to lead his Chaos to a better result than expected. Can we get about a14-9 Whipsnakes win to cash the over?
Pick: BET Over 22.5 (-125)
LEAN Whipsnakes -1.5 (-150)
Redwoods +1.5 (-135) Moneyline +105
Atlas -1.5 (+105) Moneyline -135
Over 24.5 (-115) / Under 24.5 (-115)
Saturday 5pm ESPN
The second game of the weekend features Redwoods vs Atlas in a matchup that is always close.
The Redwoods have a slew of offensive weapons in Panell, Kavanagh, Garnsey, Jones, Montgomery, Heninburg, and Perkovic. However despite some solid players their defensive numbers need to be better this season if they are to get over the hump.
The Atlas have their own offensive firepower in Teat, Law, Aitken, Costible, and Crawley. The will also feature the all time NCAA point leader and number 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, Chris Gray.
At the faceoff stripe this game is a showdown of two of the best players to ever take draws. Both TD Ierlan and Trevor Baptiste tore up the NCAA during their time and now remain dominant forces in the PLL. While either of these players does have the ability to take over a game, they may end up almost neutralizing each other. It’s very possible both their win percentages are close to even.
When these two teams play it is historically very close battles in a series that is tied 2-2 all time. This makes it hard to pick either against the spread this week. While I do think maybe the Redwoods could keep it close with the +1.5 if their defense holds up, the Atlas’s potential does scare me.
Given the even matched nature of their history, many of their meetings have been close low scoring affairs. Mix that with offenses generally taking longer to find their footing then defenses and I’m looking at another total here. Let’s hope these two squads deliver another close fought low scoring affair.
Pick: BET Under 24.5 (-115)
LEAN Redwoods +1.5 (-135)
Waterdogs -1.5 (-110) Moneyline -150
Cannons +1.5 (-120) Moneyline +120
Over 24.5 (-125) / Under 24.5 (-105)
Sunday 1pm ESPN+
Starting off Sunday is a battle of the two expansion teams, Waterdogs taking on the Cannons.
The Cannons obviously took a big loss this offseason with the retirement of professional lacrosse legend Paul Rabil. Yet they still have Lyle Thompson and Rehfuss as well as Asher Nolting who they just drafted. They also return Nick Marrocco between the pipes.
The Waterdogs though are hungry to make a statement. They will have offensive star Michael Sowers back who missed almost all of last year due to injury. However they will be without star goalie Dillon Ward who is still competing in the NLL.
Last year the Waterdogs struggled early but later found a grove. While the Cannons didn’t rack up that many wins last year, it wasn’t like they were getting blown out either. Many of the Cannons loses last year were super close.
The general consensus I’ve been hearing this preseason is that the Waterdogs solved a lot of their problems while the Cannons did not. However I personally have faith in this Cannons squad to hang with the Waterdogs here. I’m not saying they will win the PLL cup but I’ll take the Boom Squad plus the points, in a game that will hopefully be closer than most are thinking.
Pick: BET Cannons +1.5 (-110)
Chrome +2.5 (-135) Moneyline +170
Archers -2.5 (+105) Moneyline -220
Over 23.5 (-120) / Under 23.5 (-220)
Sunday 3:45pm ESPN+
Closing out the weekend is notoriously high powered Archers vs ever looking to break through Chrome.
This game features a 2.5 point spread which is something rarely seen in the PLL. The majority of spreads are 1.5 similar to hockey. With this size of a spread the dog has covered the majority of the time.
The failure of 2 point favorites and draft additions such as Logan Wisnauskas has many taking the Chrome against the spread this week. It’s also keeping me hesitant to take Archers +2.5 points.
Much has been made this week as well of the Archers losing Grant Ament to injury. That doesn’t worry me as much as their numerous other stars should be able to hold down the fort. Whith the likes of Holman, Manny, Schreiber, Desimine, Leclaire, and Moore they shouldn’t have a problem finding offense.
Pick: BET Archers -220
LEAN Archers -2.5 (+105)
So there they are, all four contests of opening weekend!
Remember that especially early in a season practice betting can be a great idea. You’ll also want to be sure you have your bankroll management in order. Look back at my lacrosse betting guide if you need a refesher on bankroll and unit size.
I hope you’re as excited to finally be watching the PLL again as I am!
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!