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College Lacrosse

Men's lacrosse analysts discuss conference tournaments, NCAA bids, Tewaaraton finalists

The best time of the men's lacrosse season to ESPN analyst Mark Dixon is Memorial Day weekend when the NCAA tournament semifinals and final are played. Coming in second is the last weekend of the regular season when eight of 10 conferences play their league tournaments.

"You've got a lot of teams out there with NCAA tournament aspirations, conference championship aspirations and national championship dreams," said Dixon, who went to two Final Fours as a midfielder for Johns Hopkins. "So everything's in play this week. … This to me is a pretty exciting time of the year."

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Fellow ESPN analyst Paul Carcaterra is just as enthusiastic about the deluge of conference tournaments on the final weekend before the 18-team field for the NCAA postseason is unveiled on Sunday.

"I just think there's so much more to play for right now," said Carcaterra, who played as a midfielder on the 1995 Syracuse team that won the national championship. "And you always feel like there's some life left. If you look at some of these teams that haven't had great seasons, they're still in the mix to get to the NCAA tournament."

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So without further ado, here is a sampling of opinions regarding several conference tournaments and the NCAA postseason.

What team deserves the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?

CBS Network analyst Evan Washburn: "Syracuse. I think that's fair. I think they wrapped that up [Sunday] with what they did over the course of the weekend."

Carcaterra: "If everything holds serve and Syracuse beats Colgate [Saturday], Syracuse definitely deserves the No. 1 seed. They took care of business in the toughest conference."

Dixon: "Syracuse. That's if they can beat Colgate. If they lose to Colgate, I don't think they're the No. 1 seed anymore."

Aside from winning the Big Ten tournament and getting the automatic qualifier, what does Johns Hopkins need to do to gain an at-large bid?

Washburn: "I would have them out right now, but if they were to beat Penn State [Thursday] and have a rematch with Maryland [Saturday] and lose to Maryland, I think that would put them on the right side of the bubble."

Carcaterra: "I think it's going to be pretty tough. If they get to the Big Ten championship, that would put them in a more favorable situation."

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Which team will win the Big Ten tournament?

Dixon: "I really do think it's wide open. If you had to give an edge to a team, you'd probably have to give it to Maryland. The tournament's at their home, they don't have to travel, they're sleeping in their own beds."

Washburn: "I think Maryland's parts, when they're all working together, are better than anybody else's in that league. Ohio State is a team I enjoy watching and can do some things, but that [17-10] loss to Rutgers surprises you and concerns you."

Which team will win the Ivy League tournament?

Dixon: "I think at the end of the day, when you look at the teams that are in it and you look at the talent that resides on those teams, I think you have to give a slight nod to Cornell."

Carcaterra: "I just think Yale game plan-wise did a great job the last time [in a 16-10 win vs. Brown on April 11]. I just feel like they're a team that's going to respond after an emotional loss to Harvard [Saturday]."

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Which team will win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament?

Washburn: "I really like what Towson is doing. Their defense is good although their offense is an issue."

Dixon: "I'm going to go out on a limb and say Drexel. They've been there and done that."

Carcaterra: "I like Fairfield now. … I like the way they play offense."

If Albany fails to win the America East tournament, should the team get an at-large spot?

Carcaterra: "I think they're a top-eight team in the country and they definitely deserve to be there. But they don't have a ton of big wins, and a lot of teams that they beat and were supposed to be good this year didn't pan out."

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Washburn: "Yes. I think if they were to lose to Stony Brook in the championship game and it wasn't an embarrassing blowout, I think Albany deserves to be in the tournament. The way they played against Syracuse, I know that doesn't fall into line of the metrics of the selection committee, but I just think they're one of the best 16 teams."

Which teams would make up your Final Four?

Washburn: "My Final Four would be Notre Dame, Syracuse, Denver and three teams for one spot — UNC, Duke and Maryland. I think I like UNC because when they're at their best, they're as good as anybody in the country."

Dixon: "I think you're looking at Notre Dame, Syracuse, Denver and Duke. It's hard to bet against Duke with eight straight championship weekends."

Carcaterra: "I would say Syracuse, Notre Dame, Denver and North Carolina."

Who would you pick as your five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award?

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Dixon: "I would go [Albany senior attackman and 2014 co-Tewaaraton Award winner] Lyle Thompson, [North Carolina senior attackman] Jimmy Bitter, [Syracuse senior attackman] Kevin Rice, [Duke junior midfielder] Myles Jones and [Notre Dame junior attackman] Matt Kavanagh."

Carcaterra: "It would be Lyle Thompson, Matt Kavanagh, Myles Jones, [Denver sophomore midfielder] Connor Cannizzaro and a flip of the coin between Jimmy Bitter and Kevin Rice. They would be 5 and 5a. I think Connor Cannizzaro is not getting enough recognition. He's a ridiculous talent, and he's running that Denver offense."

Washburn: "Lyle Thompson, Jimmy Bitter, Myles Jones, Kevin Rice and Matt Kavanagh. I think Lyle Thompson is going to win it and deserves to win it. It's almost like the LeBron James effect where you're so good that people don't talk about you as much."

edward.lee@baltsun.com


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