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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Four Play

At risk of being excommunicated from the state, I actually didn't say anything regarding the basketball Final Four. I started a post back on Saturday that I ended up running away from; I was killing time waiting for a UNCG club lacrosse game (which was ultimately canceled) and when I got the news of the cancellation, I rushed home to see USF win the WNIT! GO BULLS!!

While certainly any prognostications on the Final Four are moot now, congratulations to the Tar Heels. They beat everyone like a rented mule and allowed all of the sportscasters who dared pick them at the beginning of the year look smart.

The women's Final Four championship game featured two Big East teams, meaning it was a foregone conclusion that Big East teams would win the NCAA and the WNIT. UConn took it to notch a perfect record.

Interesting fact: the biggest rivalry in women's college hoops contains the same names as the biggest rivalry in cheese steak: Pat's and Geno's.

In intercollegiate chess, UMBC defeated archrival UT-Dallas to win the Final Four. And yes, I'm damn proud to be a nerd school alum, thankyouverymuch.

There are two other foursomes that peak my interest this weekend. Washington DC will host the Frozen Four, the final four of collegiate hockey. While I've never attended a school with varsity hockey, the concept intrigues me and it's something I could see myself getting into. As a lacrosse fan, I always feel as though it gets a ton of press as compared to college lacrosse. I don't know if there's any truth to that, or if it's merely perception. But a few reasons why that may be the case, if indeed it is:
  • Frozen Four is a damn catchy name.
  • It comes on the heels of the Final Four, so people are still in a bit of a heightened state.
  • Hockey has a professional league with some history and a substantial following (sorry, MLL).
That said, one thing I was expecting might be an answer didn't ring true. I thought it may be the case that more Big 6 conference schools fielded hockey teams than lacrosse teams. When I went to the numbers to find out if this is correct, I found that a comparable number compete in both across the board. I've misplaced the piece of paper where I was keeping tally, but I believe each sport had 11 teams from the Big 6 conferences, plus Notre Dame, Army, and Navy. The Big XII, SEC, and Pac-10 didn't have teams in either sport. There was also a similar number from division I schools who play FBS football.

The other fabulous foursome of this weekend is the Smartlink Day of Rivals, featuring Army vs. Navy and Johns Hopkins vs. Maryland. I'm loyal to none of the teams there and really just want to see some good lacrosse played, but I could make a case for each.

Army/Navy: On the one hand, I'm a shameless homer, so having attended school in Maryland and visited Baltimore and points south all throughout my childhood, I've seen the "GO NAVY BEAT ARMY" tankers and such docked for as long as I can remember. In addition to being a battle between two service academies, it's a battle between two lacrosse hotbeds--Maryland and New York. So I'm more inclined to say MARYLAND WHAT!! On the flip side however, my younger cousin (who, ironically enough, is from Maryland) is currently in his second year at the United States Military Academy at West Point, so I might have to ride with the Black Knights. If recent history is any indication however, that might not do so much good.

Hopkins/Maryland: I've got reason to pick for and against each of these schools. On the one hand, for me, public will win the public vs. private stance for me everytime. Advantage Maryland. But Baltimore metro vs. DC metro? B-more. Advantage Hopkins. Maryland wins my favor for being the blue collar to Hopkins' blue bloods. It's a push as to whether Maryland being our system mate and "big brother" works for them or against them. I've got friends who are alums of both, so that comes out in the wash as well. And I certainly wouldn't mind seeing either team fall on their face.

But UMBC beat Maryland and lost to Hopkins. A Maryland win is a zero-sum, rock-paper-scissors outcome, as it will mean UMBC beat Maryland beat Hopkins beat UMBC. A Hopkins win, however, would secure their dominance in this here threesome. A loss would hand Hopkins a losing record, which the hater in me can get behind. See, currently at .500, the Blue Jays are currently #9 in both polls. I've ranted about Hopkins' perpetual overratedness before here, but essentially, they are the Notre Dame Football of college lacrosse. They're juggernauts (ok, ND once was), they're independent, command their own contract, and the sun rises and sets from their asses. By corrollary, they are often overrated. Now I don't hate Notre Dame and I don't hate Hopkins, nor do I hate the media or fans who often cling to their loins. I give them their due. But that said, it doesn't hurt to see them taken down a peg every now and again either. So at the risk of alienating one of the few people who might actually be reading this (whatup Katie?), go Terps.

And finally, UMBC plays Albany up in Albany this weekend for the presumptive home court advantage in the America East tournament. It won't be easy. In fact, it'll be a dog fight. Literally. Here's to the dawgs in the black and gold getting back on the road with their heads held high.
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