This week’s games of the week are a perfect trifecta from the Meadowlands. While all the teams participating are Final Four caliber teams, hopefully this is not a prequel to a future Final Four site. While it is the home of my beloved Giants, and near NYC…it is also in dirty Jersey. More on the NCAA’s movement of FF locations in a later blog.
For the record the best game is the first game, with the last game being the least interesting out of the three. So if you can get to the Meadowlands this weekend do so…and early.
Virginia vs. UNC
The first game of the day pits Virginia against UNC at noon.
UVA is still undefeated at 11-0 with wins over #2Syracuse, #3Cornell, #11Hopkins, and #8Maryland.
UVA in their last 2 games have only won by 1 goal in each. In their most recent, it was the longest game EVER going into 7 overtimes. Everything about this team looks polished, especially Ghitelman making 22 saves in that 7OT thriller. 22 saves and only 9 goals against. Their offense is superb and Ghitelman continues to stand on his head in cage. There really is not much of a weak spot on this team, except EMO (32%). Maybe they’ll be tired still for UNC?
UNC is 8-3 with wins over #19Denver, #17Navy, #15Colgate, #11Hopkins and losses to Notre Dame, Duke, and Maryland. UNC statistically should have more wins. They just fell short against some tough competition. They are dominating on FO and GBs. Their EMO is struggling at 35%, but their ManDown defense is playing well holding opponents to only 34%.
UNC should come out and play UVA physically for two reasons. On the off-chance there is still some tightness/soreness from the 7OT game, and since UNC Man-down is good and UVA EMO is struggling, don’t be afraid to get some laundry on the field. Other than that UNC needs to win those FO and GBs, and try to keep the ball out of the sticks of Virginia’s offense both Middies and Attack. While my heart wants UNC to win, I think Ghitelman is too hot right now. If he wasn’t playing at the level he is now, I could see UNC possibly with the upset. Virginia by 4.
Princeton vs. Syracuse
The second game of the night is Princeton vs Syracuse at 2:30pm.
Princeton is 7-1 with wins over #11Hopkins, #6UMBC, and #18Albany. Their lone loss was to Hofstra.
Princeton’s offense has been just as good as their defense. Princeton is averaging 12.25 goals per game. In their only loss to Hofstra, Princeton could only find the net 7 times and that was their downfall. Princeton has 2 flaws. Their special teams (EMO is less than 40%, and Man Down is less than 50%), and Faceoffs (52%). Faceoffs is another factor in their loss as they only won 8 of 27.
Syracuse is 7-1 as well with wins over #11Hopkins, and #15Loyola. Their lone loss was to Virginia. Syracuse the past few games has had a habit of starting off slow and then exploding in the 2nd or 3rd or 4th quarters. In the last 3 games they have not scored more than 3 in the first quarter and have progressively started their spurt later in the game. Their offense is a formidable weapon, and while their defense is solid, they seem to lack the physical presence they had last year. The Orange need to win FaceOffs, as they have struggled at times this year. If Syracuse can get up early and not have to play catch up against Princeton, the Orange win. Princeton could upset Syracuse if they can jump to an early lead and then slow the game down. I am being a homer and going with the Cuse on this one. While their slow starts scare me against a team like Princeton, once the scoring train gets rolling, there’s no stopping it.
Hofstra vs. Delaware
Finally to round out the day, Hofstra takes on Delaware at 5:00pm
Hofstra’s defense and goalie have gelled since mini-Gvozden was thrown into the fire against his big brother and the rest of the Hopkins Blue Jays. Since then mini-G and the rest of the Dutch D have held opponents to under 8 goals per game. Not on average, but no one has scored more than 8 on them since the loss.Delaware is 3-7 with no ranked wins, and too many losses to list. 3 of their 7 losses were by 1 goal. If not for 3 goals, they could be a ranked team. This is Delaware’s downfall. Their offense has not put up more than 10G in a month.
This is an easy pick for me. The Dutchmen playing in their own backyard with their D and G playing very well, and Delaware’s O stalling out to a fizzle is a no brainer.