Wednesday gave us a taste of conference tournament action, but this weekend will give us some insight into who could be making noise come NCAA Tournament season. Some tournaments will be kicking off, others will be continuing, while everyone else finishes up their regular seasons in preparation for next week’s cement mix of tournament play.
NESCAC Tournament Kicks Off
Welcome to Thunderdome. Eight teams enter, one emerges with an automatic bid while others hope that their collective body of work is enough to earn them one of the few at-large bids. Saturday afternoon will be headlined by the NESCAC Quarterfinal matchups to be hosted by No. 7 Tufts, No. 17 Amherst, No. 18 Wesleyan and Williams.
Tufts vs. Colby, 1:00 pm Saturday
Wesleyan vs. Conn College, 1:00 pm Saturday
Amherst vs. Bowdoin, 1:00 pm Saturday
Williams vs. Middlebury, 1:00 pm Saturday
All four of these games should be great, but the two to keep your eye on will be the Amherst/Bowdoin and Williams/Middlebury games. These four proud programs had NCAA aspirations prior to the season but it has been looking more and more like they will need the automatic bid to even sniff the tournament.
Amherst could probably steal an at-large bid with a run to the NESCAC final, but standing in its way will be a tough Bowdoin team that beat them 17-15 on March 8 and a Wesleyan team they topped 14-10 on April 2. Prediction: Amherst, 15-13.
The Ephs of Williams will be looking for a repeat performance of their 9-7 win over Middlebury on Wednesday, but the Panthers likely won’t be up for that arrangement. Dan Whittam saved just 41.7 percent of the shots he faced in that one, so if Middlebury can be as effective while getting more shots, they could steal this one. Prediction: Middlebury, 8-7.
Tufts and Wesleyan should roll, setting up May 3 semifinal matchups at Tufts between the Tufts/Middlebury and Wesleyan/Amherst. Should be fun.
North Coast AQ on the Line
Ohio Wesleyan at Denison, 3:00 pm Saturday
So I was wrong about Kenyon—sorry any bettors out there who may have lost something of value. But I wasn’t wrong in saying that Ohio Wesleyan was the lone team left who could push an undefeated Denison team out of the NCAC AQ position. With three guys topping 40 points this season, OWU has the firepower to hang with the Big Red. They will need a big game in net from Ryan McMahon to hang with Denison, though. Prediction: Denison, 13-11.
CAC Semifinals Stay Chalky
Frostburg at No. 2 Salisbury, 1:00 pm Saturday
No. 13 Mary Washington at No. 15 York, 3:00 pm Saturday
Both Frostburg and Mary Washington took care of business on Wednesday, dispatching St. Mary’s and Christopher Newport en route to matchups with Salisbury and York. While Salisbury should take care of Frostburg without shattering too many sweats, the York/Mary Washington game promises to have some fireworks.
The Spartans and Eagles played to an 11-10 score back on March 15, with York coming away victorious. Tyler Davis put up a 3-3 line for York while Caleb Abney made an other-worldly 27 saves to keep them from getting blown away. Mary Washington seems to be peaking at the right time and could be primed for the upset. Should be a fun one. Prediction: York, 10-8.
Salisbury dispatched Frostburg 10-5 on March 15 (eerie), but the scoreline betrays the fact that Frostburg netminder Tyler Haines stopped 22 shots. Look for the Seagulls to pepper Haines again. Prediction: Salisbury, 15-6.
Norwich at Emmanuel, 7:00 pm Friday
Becker at Lasell, 3:30 pm Friday
Commonwealth Coast First Round
Gordon at Roger Williams, 3:30 pm Saturday (Winner plays Western New England)
Wentworth at Salve Regina, 1:00 pm Saturday (Winner plays No. 13 Endicott)
Southern Athletic Association Semifinals
Birmingham-Southern at Sewanee, 4:00 pm (Central) Friday
Berry at Center, 7:00 pm (Central) Friday
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship (Pool B)
Southwestern vs. Colorado College, 1:30 pm Saturday