Schooling Schooler: It's a Lightning Round!
Coyne's biggest upset pick of the weekend is taking a flyer on No. 16 Simon Fraser stopping No. 15 Oregon on Friday night. If it happens, he's going to need a big evening from Chris Tessarolo (above) and Kevin Crowley's favorite MCLA team.
© Cecil Copeland
After eight weeks, we're back to even.
Nick and I disagreed on only one game last week, and on the strength of Clemson's victory over Georgia, I've pulled even in this competition. The records are deadlocked at 23-17 as we prepare to open April.
Now we're going to do our best to untie this thing.
We're moving to a lightning round. Since there is a deep slate of games this week -- there are a whopping 78 MCLA games on Saturday alone -- we've picked 10 games that we'll quickly peruse and pick. Depending on how the picks go, this nip and tuck competition we've had so far could be blown wide open.
SCHOOLER: Jacqui is getting cocky. He has picked up two games in two weeks to tie it up. So he approaches me with this idea of a lightning round in hopes of gaining even more games with the two-week run he has been on. It is a good plan.
He has been sober for a month (only two more weeks to go) and I have been attending happy hours with regularity (not really, but Jac likes to think so). I have been in the middle of a move and took a brief vacation. I have also been spending endless hours trying to secure funding for next year. He should be up by a lot more games, but beating him has been my only motivation.
Jac emailed me this morning as I was rolling out of bed, sleep still in my eyes, and wrote, "Where you at, fool?" Either he was drinking again or watching "A-Team" reruns. I replied by asking if he was drunk. He said that he had a lot of coffee and told me, "Lacrosse isn't sleeping just because you are. Be a good role model for the MCLA." Then I realized that I totally forgot to do my picks. I threw this together last second. So I raise my glass, hoping for Jacqui's plan to backfire.
COYNE: All things considered, it is a shame I'm not winning this handily.
South Carolina (10-0) at No. 22 Clemson (11-1) – 8 p.m., Friday
COYNE: The Gamecocks have a ridiculous goals-per-game average (2.9) and a goalie (Shaun Lynch) who boasts an 80.2 save percentage, but the competition has been average at best. This weekend is a step up. South Carolina has nothing to apologize for this season, but the ride comes to an end against their archrival. Clemson, 10-5.
SCHOOLER: Both teams are overrated. If they could both lose, I would be pleased. Unfortunately they can't. So at least a loss on the Gamecocks' resume will make me happy. Clemson takes this game, 14-10.
No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth (4-4) at No. 17 Illinois (7-2) – 7:30 p.m. CDT, Friday
COYNE: Duluth takes a break from its shooting drills -- a.k.a., the UMLL schedule -- to test itself one last weekend. First on the docket is a frisky Illini squad desperately trying to prove they aren't a 16th seed. Even though the Dawgs will be stale for this road contest, I think the Duluth defense will be the difference. UMD, 11-6.
SCHOOLER: I am not buying into the Bulldogs this season. They have had some close losses, but no impressive wins. Same story with the Illini, but they are at home in this one. I am going with Illinois, 12-10.
No. 5 Davenport (9-2) at No. 3 St. John's (8-0) – 7:30 p.m. CDT, Friday
COYNE: I've been trying to dupe Schooler on D-II games all year, but have ended up hurting myself. Now that I know he'll unfailingly take the higher-ranked team, I've been waiting for the setup. I think this is the one. The Panthers have figured something out. D-port, 15-9.
SCHOOLER: Being alien to MCLA Division II lacrosse, I cannot use my usual prophetic skills to pick this game. So I have to look at other factors. In Division II games, I like to go with the higher-ranked team. Call me crazy, but this will be a 14-12 game in favor of the Johnnies.
No. 16 Simon Fraser (4-5) at No. 15 Oregon (5-6) – 6 p.m. PDT, Friday
COYNE: The last time Fraser played, they outscored a pair of teams 63-13 on the road. Sixty. Three. Goals. Granted, it was against Idaho and a D-II school, and Oregon is a whole different animal, but still. Fraser will fade the rest of the weekend with the depth issues, but I'm going way out on a limb and taking the Clansmen, 13-12 on a buzzer-beater.
SCHOOLER: Both teams suffer from the "good loss" factor. However, the Ducks have two uncharacteristic losses to Cal and Santa Clara. This being a major rivalry game and the Ducks playing at home, I am going with Oregon, 16-10.
No. 5 Chapman (8-2) at No. 9 Colorado (7-2) – 3 p.m. MDT, Saturday
COYNE: The last time Chapman traveled to the Mountain Time Zone, the Panthers barely squeezed out a 1-1 weekend. Now they're heading back and playing stiffer competition. Chappy will go 1-1 again, also winning the front-end contest. Panthers, 9-7.
SCHOOLER: With a possible injury to Madison Fiore, who will fill his void? I'm not sure that Chapman has the depth that it used to have, and it will have a lot of trouble containing James Blackburn. I'm going with the Buffs, 9-8.
No. 14 Minnesota-Duluth (4-4) vs. No. 6 Michigan State (6-3) – 6 p.m. CDT, Saturday (in Champaign, Ill.)
COYNE: As usual, Michigan State has crafted its weekend schedule to maximize the competitive advantage. Sparty will beat a fatigued Duluth squad. If this game was on Friday evening, it would be a tougher call, but this one's in the bank. State, 12-7.
SCHOOLER: The Bulldogs have not been an impressive team this season. Maybe it was that uncharacteristic winter we had. Climate change? No way! Either way, the Spartans have looked great this season and the Nemes connection has a lot to do with that. I am going with the Spartans, 15-9.
No. 7 Cal Poly (10-2) vs. No. 16 Simon Fraser (4-5) – 6 p.m. PDT, Saturday (in Eugene, Ore.)
COYNE: Poly is too good, too deep, and too motivated after coughing up a seed or two in the 2010 national tournament by losing to the Clansmen last March. I've got Fraser beating the Ducks on Friday, and that might have been a stretch. This upset won't happen. Mustangs, 14-10.
SCHOOLER: Here is a team that I have had the pleasure of seeing this season, something Jacqui cannot claim. Has he even seen a game in person this year? Defense is the weak link for the Mustangs. Luckily Bo Dunnahoo-Kirsch has been a savior in cage and Scott Heberer has been automatic on offense. Poly wins in a blowout, 15-5.
COYNE: If I actually watched the games, this competition wouldn't be fair.
No. 6 Michigan State (6-3) at No. 17 Illinois (7-2) – 1 p.m. CDT, Sunday
COYNE: If Illinois loses on Friday, which I think it will, Michigan State will get a rested and desperate team on Sunday afternoon. Sparty will also play its second game in 19 hours. That will make things closer, but not close enough. Michigan State, 14-12.
SCHOOLER: The Fighting Illini have not been astounding this season. The Spartans have ruffled the feathers of quite a few teams, including the mighty Sun Devils last weekend. The Illini will not be able to put up a fight. Michigan State wins, 12-7.
No. 7 Cal Poly (10-2) at No. 15 Oregon (5-6) – 12 p.m. PDT, Sunday
COYNE: If Oregon loses to Simon Fraser on Friday, it will be interesting to see how the Ducks react in this contest. OU will push Poly to the breaking point, but this Mustang team has the look this spring. Marc Lea will have his kids ready in a slugfest. SLO, 9-8.
SCHOOLER: The Mustangs have been almost flawless this season, but have not had a competitive game since their loss to Colorado State back in February. Travel can be a challenge. While they will have no trouble with the Clansmen, I see the Ducks knocking off the 'Stangs in a close one. 10-9, Oregon.
No. 5 Chapman (8-2) at No. 2 Colorado State (7-1) – 7 p.m. MDT, Monday
COYNE: If I know our boy Nick, he'll make some crack about his former UCSB teammate -- and current Chapman assistant -- Mike DeWan and then gleefully pick Colorado State to win. I'll have to agree. The Panthers have very little margin for error with their anemic offense, and won't be able to catch the Rams. CSU, 11-7.
SCHOOLER: I know these two team pretty well. Both play a disciplined game of lacrosse. This will not be the shootout of past Chapman vs. CSU games. Both have a defense-first mentality. I see the Panthers knocking off the Rams in a close one, 9-8.