Schooling Schooler: Nick's Getting Crabby
|Don't worry about this photo. It's just meant as a pick-me-up for Nick after he got trounced last weekend by Coyne's perfect mark.|
That whimpering you heard emanating from the Santa Barbara coast
was from none other than our boy Nick.
Sitting on a barnacle-encrusted rock near the edge of a lonely tidal pool, the Gauchos' preeminent marine biology Master's candidate was consoling himself amongst his good friends, the mollusk and the lingcod.
Why was Schooler so crabby?
Because I absolutely filleted him in the competition this week.
While Nick stumbled to a 2-3 finish, I cruised home with the perfect 5-0 mark. It was a methodical effort.
I dangled the Stanford-Chico game - and he gladly took the bait - as the Cardinal won comfortably. He didn't do his due diligence in the Indiana-Tennessee games and went down with the Vols. And he was unable to understand the nuances of a GRLC-LSA match-up before Lindenwood hooked the Longhorns.
As if the three losses weren't bad enough, San Diego gave UCSB a serious scare, giving Schooler a case of Sunday afternoon heartburn. The Gauchos needed a pair of goals in the final 30 seconds to take the 14-12 win.
Alas, that was last week. Nick now has a chance to shed his old shell and start fresh, albeit he is trailing overall by three games (11-4 to 8-7). It should be easier to keep the concentration level high because all the games are marquee affairs. I tried to goad Schooler into selecting the Sonoma State-UCSB tilt - they had something of a rivalry back about seven years ago - but he didn't bite, although he did throw a verbal depth charge at the Seawolves.
"Finally, some games that mean something," he said. "I know you want me to pick the UCSB versus Sonoma game, but who really cares? ‘Noma fell off the face of the planet now that all of their players go to Chapman and SDSU. UCSB isn't exactly a top team any more, so I chose a different route."
On to the games...
No. 3 Simon Fraser at No. 9 Colorado State MT, 7 p.m., Friday
COYNE: I really like the look of this Colorado State team. They've regained something, perhaps intangible, that was lost during last year's campaign. The fact they are playing at home, at altitude, and the Clansmen are coming off nearly a month lay-off having only played a Division II opponent should make this a slam dunk for the Rams.
But I'm going with Simon Fraser. I just don't think you can underestimate how annoyed the SFU players and staff were about their tournament treatment last spring. As a result, I think a lot of the factors that might normally swing the pendulum in favor of CSU will be negated. The one bugaboo is the Clan's small roster size, but I think they'll be up enough early where they can mitigate that issue.
SCHOOLER: This is the first real test for SFU this season and it is the Clansmen's game to lose. After watching the Olympics and seeing the Americans take home so many medals, I know SFU is eager to kick some Yankee butt. Unfortunately, America is just too powerful. CSU has already sent Lindenwood out of the Top 25 [actually, the Lions are still at No. 21] and laid down a [butt]-whooping on an up-and-coming Texas team. The Rams will do the same to the Clan. Too bad Simon Fraser is playing in the U.S. because they are going to need universal healthcare after this beating.
COYNE: Xenophobia, cursing, and healthcare zingers. Nicky is bringing his ‘A' game this week.
No. 5 Florida State at No. 2 Chapman, 7 p.m. PT, Saturday
COYNE: I love this game and I desperately want to pick the upset, but I just don't see it happening. FSU has the balance - seven different players with at least 10 goals - to give the Chapman defense trouble, but this is a matter of pedigree. The Seminoles haven't played the schedule the Panthers have, and that will make the difference. Chapman by a deuce.
SCHOOLER: If this game was in Florida, I would go with FSU, but Chapman is playing at home. They have had some struggles early on this season, but managed to pull off victories. I can see FSU getting out to an early lead and the Panthers slowly making a comeback. I'm going with Chapman in a close one.
No. 1 Michigan at No. 6 BYU, 7 p.m. MT, Saturday
COYNE: I've had a bit of a program crush on BYU, but I'm afraid the thrill is gone. Maybe my move from LDS Country in southwest Idaho has hindered the love affair. I'm not sure. But I have a hard time seeing the Cougars pulling the upset here. I think it will be a back-and-forth game for a half just because the Wolverines always mail in the first 30 minutes, but there will be a 10 minute stretch in the second half when Trevor Yealy dunks four straight and breaks BYU's spirit. Big Blue, 13-8.
SCHOOLER: Winning two consecutive National Championships puts a lot of pressure on the seniors and upperclassmen. Everyone wants to knock you off your throne. I've been there, and it is tough to win games. Since they are playing a very strong ASU team on Wednesday, they should be able to knock the rust off. I've seen BYU, and they have the talent, but something is missing. Maybe it is the loss of Coach Lamb, maybe it's just early in the season. Whatever it is, they won't beat Michigan. I see the Wolverines winning by at least 3.
No. 13 Florida at No. 8 Cal Poly, 7 p.m. PT, Friday
COYNE: Nick considers himself a bit of a Cal Poly aficionado, so hopefully he'll be jaded by the Mustangs and take Florida. I don't think the Gators have much of a chance in this one, and that thought was strengthened when they narrowly beat Northeastern by a goal earlier this week. SLO eases to a five-goal win.
SCHOOLER: I have seen Cal Poly play this season, and they have the ability to put up a lot of goals in a short period of time. Their defense is also very solid. They play smart and they play together. I don't see Florida having any chance in this game. Maybe it is my Left Coast bias, but I'm going with the West Coast team again. Cal Poly in an easy victory.
COYNE: Nuts. I didn't factor in the West Coast bias.
No. 18 Utah at No. 22 Arizona, 1 p.m PT (at UNLV), Sunday
SCHOOLER: The reason I chose this game was because I have a small place in my heart for Utah. I feel like they have been shafted almost every year when it comes to the national tournament. The Utes have to play BYU, CSU, and Colorado every season, and they usually play them twice. I have a gut feeling that they will be able to make it this year. They won't have any surprising losses to D-II teams and they will win games like these. So I'm going with Utah. Plus Arizona lost to Texas, so I'm over them.
COYNE: Good pick. This should be a really good game. I don't think either of these teams has a chance of going to the tournament, but they're relatively even. What stands out to me is the LaxCats win over SDSU. You may laugh because the Aztecs are 1-5, but they've played some good teams tough and Arizona held them to their lowest goal total. Plus UA has played a far stiffer schedule than the Utes. I'll take the ‘Cats in a single-digit game.
Also, I wouldn't predict Utah finishing without any surprising losses to D-II teams until they play Utah Valley in the season finale. Just sayin'.
Previous Schooling Schoolers
Weekend of Feb. 13
Weekend of Feb. 20
Weekend of Feb. 27