Here we are again. It’s Final Four weekend for NCAA D3 Men’s Lacrosse, and all of the big names and preseason favorites have made their way to the end of the year. Cortland, RIT, Salisbury, and Stevenson are our teams, and of course, everyone is shocked.
Wait, no one is shocked.
Sure, Dickinson was undefeated, but until they knock off Salisbury in the playoffs, it’s hard to say that SU isn’t still the favorite every time these programs meet. Also, you have to love hindsight. Yes, WNEU gave Cortland a great game, but Cortland still won. And to say that Tufts was the favorite over RIT? Please. That was just two good teams going at it (with one looking dominant), and even if Tufts had won, it wouldn’t have been a shocker to see them in the Final Four, would it? Exactly.
The point I’m driving home is that while parity does seem to be on the increase across college lacrosse, it didn’t quite reach all the way into the heart of the game in D3 this year, and our FF teams prove that pretty nicely, albeit anecdotally.
Two teams from New York State, and two teams from Maryland. My, how the game is spreading!
Of course when you look at some of the other results out there, you can see that the game really is spreading, and the top teams are really just a little harder to displace than everyone else.
Where is the parity in D3? It’s right here:
Only One Tourney Team For The NESCAC – Tufts made it into the NCAAs via the NESCAC AQ, and that was it. Other conference teams played better OOC schedules, and earned their way in. Are the days of NESCAC teams getting in simply by beating other NESCACs over?
WNEU’s Run – So only one NESCAC team got in, big deal. WNEU also represented New England well, making it to the Elite 8. That’s a nice run right there, and adds to the overall competitiveness of New England lacrosse. How many NESCACs will try to play WNEU next year? Probably most of them.
Aurora Saw Success – Aurora is in Illinois. They went to Ohio, and beat OWU, 13-9, to advance and play Cortland. Then they travelled to Upstate and lost 14-8 to an undefeated powerhouse. That’s growth and parity.
New Teams Galore – We saw a bunch of newer teams, and some first year NCAA tourney squads make big jumps quickly. It means D3 is exploding still, and that the level of talent is rising on the whole. As the Southern teams start to improve we could see huge changes in the D3 landscape in a decade, if not only a couple more years.
So, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE FINAL FOUR?
Probably nothing in 2013. The Final Four this year, is like the Final Four last year. The top teams made it, the depth on these rosters is crazy, and it’s anyone’s game to take.
What it means in the future, is that we will start to see some new faces, and total surprises, like we might see in D1. And I, for one, can not wait.
Who Is Going To Win?
Right now, RIT looks incredibly hot, and Cortland looks a little vulnerable. But looks can be deceiving, especially when it gets to the latter rounds of the tourney. If RIT brings a tough, blue collar attitude to the Cortland game, and never lets up, then they take it. If Cortland sees a lack of confidence, they will step in make RIT pay. Cortland gets up for the big games consistently. If RIT matches that concentration though, I like the Tigers here, by two goals.
Down South I have a personal vested interest. You see, Forrest Lindekens (of Trilogy Lacrosse) and I have a side bet. I picked Stevenson early on. He picked Salisbury. Whoever’s team goes further this year gets to bomb 10 shots at the other, as they play goalie. It’s going to be the Duel in DUMBO III.
I’ve picked Stevenson all year to win, so I’m going to stick with that prediction, no matter how nervous Salisbury (and Forrest) make me. Looking for an epic grudge match where the two programs hatefully respect one another? Look no further than Salisbury – Stevenson.