NCAA Games to Watch: Conference Play

Prior to Saturday’s games, we had a battle of New York teams between Albany and Syracuse, a big ACC game between North Carolina and Virginia, and Villanova playing against Denver.  But here are some games to watch for this weekend:


Boston University vs. Army: 12 PM

The Patriot League is up for grabs for any team except for Lafayette and maybe Lehigh.  Boston has been a pleasant surprise in year two of the program, as the Terriers and the Black Knights each have a 3-2 record in conference play, tied with Colgate and Loyola.  BU keeper Christian Carson-Banister didn’t play in last week’s 14-6 loss against Navy with an arm injury, as freshman Colin MacDougall got the start, recording 15 saves.  Carson-Banister is week-to-week, so expect the freshman coming from La Salle (PA) to face the fierce Black Knight offense in the cage.  Pick: Army.

Cornell vs. Harvard: 1 PM

It’s a tale of two teams going opposite directions.  The Big Red are riding a four game winning streak after losing to Virginia in early March, with close wins against Colgate and Penn, and last week against Dartmouth.  Matt Donovan and Connor Buczek are hot after a slow start to open the season.  Harvard has lost four straight, and face the Big Red looking for their first Ivy League win of the season.  Pick: Cornell.

Drexel vs. Hofstra: 1 PM

This is a huge game in the CAA, as both teams look to get an early conference victory.  Hofstra has won three of their last four games, led by junior attackman Sam Llinares (26 G, 21 A).  After going 0-4 to start their season, Drexel has won four of their last six, but lost to Fairfield in their CAA opener 7-4 last week.  Last time both teams met, Drexel crushed the CAA title hopes of Hofstra 11-10 in the third overtime in the CAA title game.  Drexel went on to the NCAA Quarterfinals, while Hofstra sat on the couch.  Pick: Hofstra.

Detroit vs. Marist: 1 PM

I think this will be the MAAC title game in a few weeks and will decide the lone MAAC team to make it to the NCAA Tournament.  Detroit hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record this year besides Ohio State in the first game of the regular season for both teams.  The Titans have lost to Michigan, Marquette, and Quinnipiac.  Marist has played well so far this year, with losses against Penn State, and Brown by a one-goal margin.  The Red Foxes should have a smooth path to May.  Pick: Marist.

Fairfield vs. UMass: 1 PM

The Stags are on a four game win streak with victories over Colgate, Villanova, and Drexel.  They’ve rebounded quite well from three straight one-goal defeats before starting up their win streak. But they need to keep this up to get a home game in the CAA playoffs as well as a chance to win the CAA.  But after an 0-5 start to being the season, UMass is 3-1 in their last four games.  They played Towson to a tough 6-3 loss last week, but look to contend in the conference.  Pick: Fairfield.

Lehigh vs. Colgate: 2 PM

Should be another entertaining Patriot League conference game.  Lehigh is on a two game win streak after losing six straight games in almost the span of a month.  They got a fresh start with wins over Monmouth and Holy Cross.  Their opponent has also had a shaky middle of the season.  They snapped a four game losing streak last week on the road against Loyola.  However, they’ve played strong in their last four games although three of those games were losses.  Pick: Colgate.

Navy vs. Loyola: 2:30 PM

Navy is the talk of the Patriot League.  In a conference where Loyola or Army were viewed as favorites, Navy has emerged as a dark horse in the conference led by Patrick Keena, TJ Hanzsche, Kevin Wendel, and freshman giant Jack Ray.  They show a lot of upside in the near future.  On the other hand, the Greyhounds have alternated between wins and losses for the past eight games.  They need big games from Nikko Pontrello, Zach Herreweyers, and Romar Dennis to stay alive in the conference.  Otherwise, I think they’ll be looking out of the NCAA Tournament come May.  Pick: Navy.

Princeton vs. Stony Brook: 3 PM

A couple of slip-ups this year for the Tigers with Maryland and then last week against Brown, but the Tigers have had a pretty good season thus far.  Mike MacDonald has been fun to watch for Chris Bates’ squad and will contend for an Ivy League title.  Stony Brook has been a surprise in the American East at 8-2.  But they’ve only beaten Marist and Fairfield, which were early in the season, with quality résumés.   Pick: Princeton.

Notre Dame vs. Duke: 5 PM

Notre Dame is riding high after a thrilling 2OT win at home against Syracuse last week.  They are in control of the ACC with a conference record of 2-0 with two more games to play.  Attackmen Matt Kavanagh, freshman Mikey Wynne, and Conor Doyle, along with midfielders Sergio Perkovic, Nick Ossello, and Jack Near, has made Notre Dame a favorite to win it all.  Duke is in unfamiliar territory at 0-2 in ACC play, with both losses coming the past two weeks on the road at Syracuse and a close game at UNC.  This will be a big game for the Blue Devils, as a huge ACC game against Virginia next week will most likely mean that the winner will make it to the ACC Tournament while the loser plays Penn April 25th in Chester.  Pick: Notre Dame.


Johns Hopkins vs. Ohio State: 6 PM

Johns Hopkins was in the preseason top 5 to begin the season in February.  But now at 4-5, they are in desperation mode to find a way to get to the NCAA Tournament.  They play of Wells and Shack Stanwick, along with Ryan Brown, has been good, but the defense has been very underachieving and the team as a whole has been inconsistent.  They defeated Rutgers 9-7 last week at Homewood and trailed the Scarlet Knights for some time.  As much as the Big Ten does not look that good and that Hopkins should beat many of these teams, it looks like it’ll be a battle for the rest of the year for the Blue Jays.  Ohio State has done its job plain and simple, without any flash.  They’ll need some this weekend.  Pick: Ohio State.