by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us
LA CROSSE, Wis. – The roughest, toughest Division II conference – the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference (UMLC) – gets fleshed out a little more this weekend as five of the league’s six teams converge on the campus of Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich.
This three-day affair, which starts this afternoon with No. 2 Dayton tangling with No. 4 St. John’s, has all the punch of the Judgement series, but is confined to just the UMLC.
By the time the weekend wraps up on Sunday morning with No. 7 GVSU hosting No. 6 North Dakota State, we’re not only going to have a good idea about the UMLC’s pecking order for the postseason tournament, but a decent idea of how the seeds might look in Salt Lake City.
Dayton and the host Lakers will be putting the most on the line over the course of the three days.
In addition to playing the Johnnies today, North Dakota State awaits the Flyers on Saturday and then the gem of the weekend – the 1v2 matchup with top-ranked Minn.-Duluth – occurs on Sunday.
What's the Division II Game of the Week for the period ending March 31? #mca19
— MCLA Tournament '19 (@MCLA_Tournament) March 25, 2019
Only the St. John’s tilt counts against the conference standings, so the other two are more for national rankings/seeding.
GVSU enters its two games against St. John’s and NDSU on a three-game tear that includes wins over quality D-I opponents in Western Michigan and Davenport on Thursday night.
A sweep for the Lakers and they are once again back in the mix for one of the coveted top four seeds at nationals.
Keep an eye on these scores coming out of Allendale this weekend because we’ll be able to start handicapping the D-II race to the finish.
...and it was a bomb pic.twitter.com/rc6li4wgNs
— TVX Sports Video (@TVXsportsvideo) March 28, 2019
Big Sky Bounce Back
Things were looking grim for Montana on March 10. The Grizzlies just had their doors blown off by PNCLL rival College of Idaho, 20-10, and were on a four-game losing skid. Salt Lake City looked like a pipe dream.
Fast forward to Wednesday night when Montana took down No. 16 San Diego to complete a three-game sweep of ranked California squads. The win over the Toreros, combined with triumphs against No. 11 UC Davis and No. 22 Cal State San Marcos, has thrust the Griz right back into the at-large discussion. The winning streak currently stands at five.
A win over No. 14 Montana State at home and UM would be tough to leave out of the final 16. Just another case of how quickly your luck can change in this league.
What is the MCLA Division I Game of the Week for the period ending March 31? #mcla19
— MCLA Tournament '19 (@MCLA_Tournament) March 25, 2019
My Five Picks
No. 4 St. John’s (3-0) at No. 7 Grand Valley State (3-1), 1 p.m. – Saturday
For those of you who haven’t seen these two battling each other, they get after it. In a big way and it in a great way. Big hits. Big goals. Big talk. Last year’s quarterfinal was tense, and now that that St. John’s is in the UMLC East, there’s plenty on the line again.
I don’t think either of these teams have matured into what they’ll be in May, but this contest will go a long way in shaping that. The law firm of Parry, Crawford & Highland is an experienced attack unit playing at home. They’ll be going against a Johnnies squad that really hasn’t been tested yet and will be coming off a grind against Dayton on Friday night. LakeShow, 10-7.
No. 6 South Carolina (8-1) at No. 3 Liberty (9-0), 3 p.m. – Saturday
Did some digging into this game, looking at some past outcomes – the Gamecocks swept the Flames last year, including an SELC tourney semifinal beatdown – some stats, and strength of schedule. Pretty even, to be honest.
And then I saw it. South Carolina is playing LSU on Friday night and then traveling the five hours to Lynchburg on Saturday to face the Flames. Anyone familiar with this space knows how I feel about trying to get cute with scheduling. Liberty, 13-11.
No. 11 Boston College (7-1) at No. 15 New Hampshire (4-0), 4 p.m. – Saturday
The top three make the CLC playoffs out of the East division and the winner of this one will feel pretty good about making the postseason. In addition, the victor will be in really nice shape for at-large consideration.
This is a toss-up to me, mostly because the Eagles have been essentially dormant for a month. As such, I’ll ride the home team and the squad with two 6-foot-8 guys on the roster. Wildcats, 13-11.
View this post on InstagramBig week for the Spartans! #msulax #gogreen #molonlabe #spartanswill
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No. 10 Virginia Tech (7-3) vs. No. 14 Michigan State (4-4), 5 p.m. – Saturday
There is a lot riding on the marquee game of the Clash in Columbus (also featuring Indiana). Nothing season-ending, but the loser is going to be very close to being thrown into the AQ-or-bust bucket. The defending champs have not showed well against ranked teams so far (0-4), and it’s tough to see past that. Hokies, 9-8.
No. 1 Minn.-Duluth (6-0) vs. No. 2 Dayton (6-0), 7 a.m. – Sunday
We talked about scheduling earlier, right? This will be Dayton’s third Top 6 game in a 39-hour span. Duluth comes into the contest fresh. This isn’t complicated math. The Flyers are absolutely legit, but history says this is too much of an uneven playing field. ‘Dogs, 12-7.
It's interstate rivalry time as @GatorsLaxClub travel down to Orlando to take on @MLacrosse_UCF at 5 PM. Watch live on https://t.co/Z75ws8nGQ1! #ChargeOn #GatorNation @jesse_clark32 @MattValentine8 @hayden_parks @ParkerKaleo @The_SELC @MCLA @mgravy3 @ghanrahan6 @FloridaLX pic.twitter.com/7iSFF28ztX
— @fanvuu (@fanvuu) March 29, 2019
Slides & Rides
Saturday’s contest between No. 13 Arizona and No. 16 Grand Canyon in Phoenix will start the jockeying for seeds in the SLC South. Same with No. 9 Concordia-Irvine visiting No. 5 Chapman in the SLC North…No. 8 Cal Poly’s 15-13 win over No. 12 BYU on Thursday in Vegas is a big chip to cash in on Selection Sunday. The Cougars are now 5-5 with four games left on the docket…Central Florida can wrap up a bid to the SELC tourney with a win over Florida tonight. If the Gators pull it off, the Knights will need to beat FSU.
‼️GAMEDAY ‼️ The Rams take on #25 @BSULacrosse on the road tonight. 7:00PM at Swenson Field #rhodylax #mclalacrosse #BDE pic.twitter.com/3tFKWRnkSk
— URI Men’s Lacrosse (@LaxRhody) March 29, 2019
Rough sledding for the RMLC. Only Wyoming is over .500 as we get ready to enter April…St. Thomas travels to Springfield to face Missouri State in the last tune-up before the final UMLC push…UC Irvine’s Joe Hinton is leading the national goals race with 60. He’s sitting on 80 points after nine games.
We’re accepting nominations for the US Lacrosse Player of the Month for March. Get your nominations to [email protected] by Monday.