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March 30, 2011

Schooling Schooler: Much-Needed Distraction

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter


Hey, look! It's Schooler's favorite team. Usually Nick likes to slam the Hokies, but in the wake of his Gauchos taking the donut against Michigan, he'll use any distraction to get it out of his mind. He's even picking Virginia Tech this week.
© Cecil Copeland

Nick needs to get his mind off the Left Coast this week. As much as he is a product of California, he'd admit it, too.

Why? Because all of the waves crashing on the beach, the pretty co-eds and sunny skies only serve as a reminder that Schooler's a UC Santa Barbara lacrosse alum, and that's not a fun role to play right now. In the wake of the Gauchos 21-0 loss at the hands of Michigan on Saturday, it's tough to find any UCSB types pounding their chest about the program.

It's one of the most bizarre scores I've seen since covering the college game. The No. 1 team in the country not only hanging 21 on the (former) No. 10 team, but not allowing a single goal? I think if UCSB played an MLL team I would bet they would get at least one goal. Against the Wolverines? Zilch.

The box score from the game illustrates the train wreck. UCSB went 11-for-24 (!) on the clear, were outshot 53-16 and nearly got doubled up on ground balls. The only bright spot for the Gauchos was they managed to get 12 of their 16 shots on cage, even if none of them went in.

As a result of this turn of events, we're heading eastward this week. While we'll be checking in with Michigan again, we'll have a pair SELC games and an SLC-CCLA interconference duel. And since I'm now only a game back -- a 3-2 week for me has narrowed the gap, 21-14 to 20-15 -- I'll be throwing in a Division II game to see if I can make move before the calendar flips to April.

SCHOOLER: Hallelujah! The lord has been listening. All that non-drinking for Lent has paid off. Jacqui picked up his first game of the season and the Gauchos were utterly embarrassed by the Wolverines last weekend.

Maybe I should lay off the booze too. Or maybe I shouldn't. Jac seemed pretty upset when I told him that I was sipping on a Bloody Mary at lunch last weekend. Anyway, onto this weeks games. I have made a few bold picks and I hope they pay off.

No. 2 Colorado State (6-0) at No. 1 Michigan (9-0) – 7 p.m., Friday

COYNE: If this game was in Colorado on a Friday night, I might take a flyer on the Rams if I was feeling spicy. But in Ann Arbor? That's a tough sell. This game makes its way onto the board because of the pageantry of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 conflict, but the game itself will have as much drama as the sun rising in the east.

For reasons outlined above, Schooler will kiss the ring -- and maybe tell us how he almost went to Michigan -- and pick the Wolverines, as well. The only formality is the score. While they won't win, CSU has a dominant faceoff man and three solid lines to throw at the Michigan midfield, allowing them to exploit a couple of the Wolverines few weaknesses. I've got UM, 11-7.

SCHOOLER: What Michigan did to UCSB last weekend was a tragedy of epic proportions. What they do to Colorado State this weekend will be quite different. I think that CSU is the perfect match-up for Michigan. For a while, I thought ASU would be able to out-shoot the Rams and win, but I have changed my mind since hearing the report from the game in Fort Collins last weekend.

In order to have a chance against the Wolverines, you need to slow down the pace and control possession time. Alex Smith and the Rams do exactly that. They have a great FOGO and a patient offense. Their defense is their weak point, but that doesn't matter if you control the ball. I think this will be a very low scoring game, probably in the range of 4-3. Since this is in Michigan, I am picking the Wolverines.

No. 22 Clemson (10-1) at Georgia (1-5) – 7 p.m., Friday

COYNE: Just to give you an idea of the frustrations I deal with on a weekly basis, I offered Nick the option of picking one of the baseline games and this is what he came up. Seriously, does this contest scream "competitive" to you?

I know why Nick picked it. Georgia just upset Virginia Tech, which is actually a pretty impressive performance for the Bulldogs, all things considered. However, Nick views everything related to the MCLA through the prism of 2007, and back then Georgia was good and Clemson was essentially non-existent. The Tigers are semi-legit and feature an attack of Chris Buechele (23g, 23a) and Will Patch (28g, 22a). It'll be low scoring, but Clemson wins, 9-4.

SCHOOLER: Jac and I talked this over and I think I am comfortable picking Georgia. Normally, I would go with Clemson, but I think this game is a toss up and the Bulldogs are on a roll after beating the Hokies (despite losing all of their previous games).

It's not that the Bulldogs stink, they just schedule tougher. There has been a lot of talk about cupcake schedules in the MCLA, and Clemson is the poster child. Somehow they got ranked for beating a handful of division II teams and getting crushed by Florida State. But this will all be sorted out this weekend when the Bulldogs take the 9-7 victory over the Tigers.

No. 3 Arizona State (7-1) at No. 8 Michigan State (5-2) – 4 p.m., Sunday

COYNE: I've been riding Sparty hard this year, but the loss to Boston College on Sunday was a true disappointment. Michigan State should have put that game away and didn't. Now I'm supposed to believe they can do it against ASU? Can't do it.

I'm more likely to take a team coming immediately off a game against Michigan, but after the Sun Devils hammered Colorado in the Sunday game last weekend, I'm not sure that applies here. Plus, State will play Colorado State on Saturday. Sparty's best chance would probably be if ASU beats the Wolverines the evening before.

Ha, ha. Jac made a funny. Devils, 14-10.

SCHOOLER: No question in this game. UCSB lost to the Spartans by a goal and Boston College won by a goal. Neither of these teams are at the same level as the Sun Devils. Ryan Westfall and Eric Nelson are the leaders with a few young guys in Mike Montella and Jeff Peznick ready to turn heads when the seniors graduate. I do not see the Nemes connection making a difference. Dylan Wesfall along with his defense, will shut them down. The Sun Devils will get out to a big, early lead, so as the sun goes down, they will have no issues with the cold.

Coyne's Pick

No. 6 Davenport (8-2) at No. 3 Dayton (6-1) – 3 p.m., Saturday

COYNE: I admit it: this game is a slam dunk. But I'm hoping Nick's insistence on ignoring Division II will lead him to take Davenport. When the game was picked, I didn't actually think Davenport would lose to Briarcliffe. Now the gig's up. I'll just keep my fingers crossed. Dayton, 15-9.

SCHOOLER: It's a no brainer for Jac. When you are down, bring out the bag of tricks. He has been pulling out these Division II games ever since he went down over a month ago. It's boring. Yeah, these two team would probably beat Virginia Tech and N.C. State, but who cares? I will go with the higher ranked Dayton Flyers. Let's hope that Jac was trying to trick me on this one and I can beat him at his own game.

Schooler's Pick

N.C. State (5-1) at No. 21 Virginia Tech (4-3) – 2:30 p.m, Sunday

SCHOOLER: A week ago, I might have picked NC State in the game because I am such a hater on Virginia Tech. While the Hokies have been a borderline SELC power over the years, they have had a down year, especially after losing to Georgia. But then I realized that N.C. State lost to Wake Forest at home last weekend, as well.

I did not even know that the Demon Deacons had a team, let alone an MCLA Division I team. How N.C. State even got votes for the top 25 this week baffles me. Clearly there are people out there who know less about them than I do. This is not an easy game to choose, but the Hokies have the edge playing in Blacksburg.

COYNE: Anybody up for a little trivia? Okay, here we go: How many games did North Carolina State play in March? Anyone? Uno. The Wolfpack played five games from Feb. 11-27, but Saturday's 11-10 loss to Wake Forest was the only game this month (North Texas bailed on their trip east, eliminating the only other schedule contest in March).

If that wasn't enough, the Virginia Tech tilt on Sunday is the final regular season game for N.C. State. Eight games and done by April 3? Interesting. The winner of this game will be heading to the SELC tournament, so there's a lot on the line. Tech's used to that. State is not. Hokies, 15-12.


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