Friday, May 11, 2018


Welcome to the best TV sports weekend of the year.

It's the opening round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament. There will be four games tomorrow and four games Sunday, one after another, hours and hours of men's lacrosse.

Does it get better than that?

Well, actually, yes, it does. It would be better if TigerBlog couldn't watch a bunch of the games because he was busy with Princeton in the NCAA tournament. Next year, he firmly believes.

Anyway, the only televised sporting event that can compare is the World Cup, which is still a distant second.

As for the games themselves, this is an interesting NCAA tournament. TigerBlog has asked a bunch of people all year what one team they'd be most confident in getting to the Final Four, and there really hasn't been one. Maybe Maryland and Yale.

Then, when the bracket came out, it became even more muddled. Look at Yale, for instance. The Bulldogs have looked unbeatable at time, and TB can seem them getting all the way to Memorial Day. On the other hand, their first game is against UMass - Game 1 of the weekend, by the way, noon, tomorrow, on ESPNU - and UMass has a goalie (Sean Sconone) and a face-off man (Noah Rak) who have been cornerstones of a team that has won 11 straight and hasn't lost to since March 10.

You want to play that team in the first round?

One quick NCAA men's lax note - TigerBlog congratulates Mike Eveland, a defenseman at Robert Morris, on his team's 12-6 win over Canisius in the play-in game. Eveland was a longtime summer club teammate of TigerBlog Jr.'s.

TigerBlog last year had a pre-tournament pick of Maryland and Ohio State in the final, and that's how it played out. This year? He has no idea. In fact, more than half of the first round games are complete toss ups.

The team that TB sees most fitting the description of "could win it all or lose in the first round" is Virginia, by the way. 

If he had to pick a Final Four, he'd go with: Yale, Denver, Hopkins and Maryland (though he thinks Cornell will beat Syracuse and could very well beat Maryland). He feels better about his pick that at least one of those four teams doesn't win this weekend.

As for the women's tournament, Princeton plays Syracuse in the first round today at 4, with the winner to take on host Boston College at 1 Sunday.

Princeton lost this year to Syracuse 17-16 back on March 29. This will be the third straight game this year for the Tigers in which they will be playing a team it played earlier in the year. The first two were:
* Columbia - won 22-16 in Game 1, won 17-7 in rematch
* Penn - won 21-8 in Game 1, won 13-10 in rematch

Princeton scored 43 goals the first time and 30 the second in those two games combined. Princeton allowed 24 the first time and 17 the second.

What does this mean for the NCAA game today? Not a thing.

Princeton fell behind by as many as five in the first half against Syracuse and trailed 9-5 at the break. The Tigers would lead 12-11 before 'Cuse went up 17-14, and Princeton would get the last two two but not the tying goal.

In other words, it was a close game between two evenly matched teams.

What stands out most to TigerBlog from that one is that 17 different players had at least one goal. Is that some sort of record?

Princeton is 8-1 since that game against Syracuse, with its only loss by one goal to the top seed, Maryland. Syracuse has struggled down the stretch, going 2-5 since the game against Princeton.

What does that say about how this game will go? Again, not a thing.

None of that stuff matters once the game starts. And in this situation, where a loss means elimination, the little things become more pronounced - possessions, limiting turnovers, converting free positions. Also, getting goals from so many people in a March game is nice. This time of year, your stars need to be stars.

TB expects a close one.

The women's lacrosse team isn't the only Princeton team in NCAA competition.

The women's tennis team is in Lubbock, Texas, for the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers take on Illinois, with the match at 11 Eastern, 10 local time.

The Princeton women are in the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years. As they head into the postseason, they do so with what might just be a record for biggest disparity in ranking in two polls: the Tigers are ranked 24th by the USTA and 47th by the ITA. A 23-spot difference?

Illinois, by the way, is ranked 19th in both polls.

Texas Tech plays Army in the other matchup at Texas Tech, and the winners play tomorrow.

This weekend also features the awarding of the final Ivy League championships. Princeton, who has already won 10 league titles this year, competes in men's lightweight rowing, men's heavyweight rowing and women's open rowing.

Previews are HERE, HERE and HERE.

And with that, enjoy your nearly 20 hours of watching NCAA lacrosse this weekend.

Or whatever else it is you'll be doing.

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