Strength: Run-and-gun offense featuring an attack of brothers Lyle and Miles Thompson (pictured) and their cousin Ty. Entering Thursday, Lyle was averaging 6.6 points per game for the nation's most explosive offense (15.8 goals per game). The Great Danes have reached 12 goals a dozen times this season. Weakness: Turnovers. Albany plays a freelance style founded on taking chances, but turns the ball over 18 times per game. When the tempo slows in the NCAA tournament, how will their giveaways impact results? X-factor: Freshman goalie Blaze Riorden had a career-best 20 saves in the win over Johns Hopkins. Riorden can struggle, though, saving less than 50 percent in seven games this year. Notable: Albany was 5-11 in 2012, 5-10 in 2011 and 5-11 in 2010. In 2007 it won the America East tournament, beat Loyola in the first round and lost a heartbreaker in the quarterfinals to Cornell in overtime. Bracketology: Even with wins at Johns Hopkins and at Syracuse, the Great Danes are not an NCAA tournament lock without the America East AQ.
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Strength: Fifth-year senior Rob Pannell (34, 41) quarterbacks an offense that's scoring 14.5 goals per game. Pannell has eclipsed many school and Ivy League scoring records (including career assists and career points). Weakness: Defensive midfield and overall lack of depth. The Big Red defensive midfielders were exposed in a loss at Syracuse. Coach Ben DeLuca doesn't have a deep stable of athletic cover men he can turn to. The offense relies heavily on the top six scorers, but there's a drop-off after that. Big Red fans will be rooting for cool weather in May. X-factor: I love defenders Jason Noble, Thomas Keith and Tom Freshour. Fast in small windows, they are all instinctual with excellent eyes and feet. They've combined to scoop up 149 ground balls and cause 72 turnovers. Notable: Cornell hasn't won an NCAA title since 1977. Bracketology: If Cornell wins the Ivy, it will be seeded in the Nos. 3-6 range. If it loses, expect it to drop to the Nos. 6-8 range.
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Conference championship week is here in men's lacrosse, and the automatic qualifiers are up for grabs. Lehigh has grabbed the AQ from the Patriot League, leaving seven guaranteed spots in the NCAA tournament. Virginia won't be invited, and Johns Hopkins could be a bystander, too, which opens things up for rising programs. At least 11 teams are serious contenders for a title. Here's my breakdown of each: —By Quint Kessenich, For The Baltimore Sun
By Quint Kessenich, For The Baltimore Sun