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May 12, 2012

Schooling Schooler: Making Greenville a Formality

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

What will Arizona State's fate be this year at the MCLA championships? Coyne has the Sun Devils' ride ending in the second round while Schooler envisions yet another bridesmaid finish for ASU.
© Cecil Copeland

Our boy Nick and I have slogged through a full season and here we are, tied at the end of the regular season with just the tournament remaining. Obviously, the only way to crack this stalemate is to predict all of the games and scores for the five days in Greenville.

At one time, there was a chance that Schooler was going to make the trip to the Southeast, if only to see his beloved Gauchos try to restore a little luster to the program. Alas, he has been tasked with giving his PhD committee backrubs before his defense, so I won't be able to win anything of substance from Nick (for the third straight year).

Since we're tied at this point, we'll just go with a straight points system: one point for a first round win, two points for the quarters, four points calling the semifinal winners correctly and then eight for getting the national champion.

SCHOOLER: It was nice not to get schooled by Jac this season, even while he clawed his way back and tied it in the final week. He has an excuse though. He was a little distracted this season with a new future Democrat that he brought into this world.

But I was, too. I have been busy making up a story about global warming so I can get more funding and mislead the public. That's just the life of a marine biologist.

The national championship field gets better year after year. I am excited for the new venue and the legitimate chance at some first round upsets. Good luck to all the teams out there.

Without delay, here are our picks:

Monday, May 14 - Quarterfinals

No. 16 Minnesota-Duluth vs. No. 1 Cal Poly
COYNE: Is this the most uncomfortable one-sixteen match-up in MCLA history? Gotta be pretty close. The Dawgs lost by three on the 'Stangs' home field earlier this year. It'll be closer, but Poly survives, 10-8.

SCHOOLER: This will mirror the mid-season matchup between these two teams. Duluth has the talent, but not the depth to beat Cal Poly. It will be close at the half, but the Mustangs pull away, 10-4.

No. 15 Illinois vs. No. 2 Colorado State
COYNE: If the Illini can take one thing into this tournament, it's they've been successful in the close games. Unfortunately, they won't be able to use that skill-set in Greenville. Rams, 15-3.

SCHOOLER: We can agree that this is the most lopsided matchup of the first round. Illinois did beat Duluth, but will not come close to beating the Rams. CSU 16-3.

No. 14 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Brigham Young
COYNE: The Hokies have just enough fire power to make the Cougars nervous, but ultimately it will be the Virginia Tech defense that will falter under a Ted Ferrin & Co., onslaught. LDS, 14-9.

SCHOOLER: This will be an interesting matchup with Hokies attackmen Matt Giannelli and Kevin Hayden against Cougars defensemen Tyler Sabey and Jacob Houghton. Most teams do not have the defensive skill to shut these guys down, but the Cougs will be up to the task. They also have a guy by the name of Ted Ferrin. Have you heard of him? BYU wins, 14-6.

No. 13 Texas vs. No. 4 Arizona State
COYNE: Could anything have lined up better for the Sun Devils? Not only do they jump up all the way to the four-seed, but they also get an opportunity to avenge an early-season loss to the Longhorns. ASU barely resembles that team from late February, and it will show. Devils, 13-3.

SCHOOLER: It's amazing how quickly a team like ASU can mature. Thinking back to the beginning of the season, the Sun Devils struggled against mediocre teams. Many, including myself, put them as an afterthought. This rematch almost seems too good to be true. When many thought Texas would get the 14th seed and ASU would have a lower seed, the stars aligned (or the committee wanted to see the rematch). Texas is better than their seeding, but they will have no chance in this game. Devils dominate, 10-4.

No. 12 California vs. No. 5 Buffalo
COYNE: I've been in contact with Bulls coach Ryan Crawford over the past couple of years, and he's the only coach who encourages me to pick against his team in Schooling Schooler. He loves proving me wrong, and that's kind of the mindset built up around Buffalo at this point – they love getting the last laugh. I'm not sure if they'll get the last laugh this spring, but they'll get the last laugh Monday. Bulls, 9-5.

SCHOOLER: Buffalo has a lot to prove, especially after miraculously snagging the five seed. They are good, but not that good. The Bears have even more to prove. Especially after all the trash talking from the PCLL this season. What would a pick 'em be without an upset? I could play it safe like Jac or pick the Bears in a nail biter, 8-7.

No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 6 Chapman
COYNE: Here's the first round main dish. I'll be honest, the further we get from the initial shock of the Ducks being slotted at No. 11, the more I kind of get it. Don't get me wrong: I think Oregon is very good team and much better talent-wise than an eleven, but the results dictated their station. If Chapman is healthy, we should see a redux of the first tilt. Orange County, 11-9.

SCHOOLER: This is an unfortunate draw for the Ducks. Both of these teams are better than their seeding. Oregon midfielder, Spencer Robertson, should have a tough time with Matt Walrath, arguable one of the best LSMs the MCLA has seen. Don't forget about Justin Shields. That guy is a complete player and the true definition of a midfielder. Chaptown, 12-10.

No. 10 Pittsburgh vs. No. 7 UC Santa Barbara
COYNE: Normally I'd get sucked into taking the Panthers strictly to ratchet up the turmoil for our boy Nick, but the Michigan State game has cooled me on Pitt's chances. Oh, it's a good team, but they play nicely into what the Gauchos would like to do. Or at least for the first round. Frustration is the word of the day for the Panthers as UCSB grinds them down. Gauchos, 9-6.

SCHOOLER: No question where I go with this one. Gauchos shut down Tyler Novotny and walk away with the victory, 9-5.

No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 8 Colorado
COYNE: I may have a problem with a lot of the seeding the selection committee does, but they annually put together a really nice eight-nine game. This spring is no different, as the Buffs and Spartans appear to be a coin flip. When they're on, each can beat any team around. When they're not right? They can both be awful. I think they'll both be on, but Sparty will have just enough. State, 8-6.

SCHOOLER: I am going to disagree with Jac here. This is not as intriguing of an eight-nine game as I might have hoped. I would have liked to see Buffalo or ASU in this game. With the way the Buffs have been playing lately, this should be a cake walk for them. Colorado breezes to an 11-8 victory.

Tuesday, May 15 – Quarterfinals

COYNE: No. 9 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Cal Poly
You play this game under a steel-hard, March Michigan rain and Sparty has a chance. Under a relatively humid, pre-summer day in Greenville? That's Mustang time, and Poly will advance comfortably, 11-8.

SCHOOLER: No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 1 Cal Poly
Cal Poly was my early favorite, but I have been impressed by what John Galvin has done with this team after a shaky start. The recent competitive games from the Buffs will be the edge here. Colorado advances with a 11-10 thriller.

No. 7 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 2 Colorado State
COYNE: The first time these two teams met on March 29 it was kind of a big deal. Then the Rams did a stompdance on the Gauchos, 11-3. Is there anything plausible that could change the result? Other than a stall-offense and a tight zone by UCSB, this one is all Rams. CSU, 10-5.

SCHOOLER: It's not going to be an easy game for the Gauchos. After watching the UCSB game against ASU in the SLC semifinals, I was disgusted by the glaring absence of a player who wanted to take over that game. I saw the same thing in the Chapman game earlier this season. The Gauchos will put together a better performance than they did in March, but it won't be enough unless Gilbert, Hemeon, Jacobs, or Bridgman wakes up and takes over the game. I have CSU winning 12-10. Prove me wrong, Gauchos!

No. 6 Chapman vs. No. 3 Brigham Young
COYNE: This game should be played on Thursday night, if not Saturday, but the details of the selection process mandate we enjoy this heavyweight bout before hump-day. If it's played in a vacuum, the results would be the same as the first contests – an overtime affair. But it's not, and the Panthers are going to be worn out from their first-round tilt with Oregon. Cougartown, 11-7.

SCHOOLER: This is a great matchup. Both teams have strong defenses, keeping the final score low. It is tough to beat a good team twice, so Dallas Hartley will have the Panthers ready for this. They have enough offensive and defensive weapon to make this upset happen. Chaptown moves on, 7-6.

COYNE: No. 5 Buffalo vs. No. 4 Arizona State
No one is hotter heading into the tournament than Arizona State. Alas, no team is a worse match-up for the Sun Devils than the Bulls. Buffalo is used to grinding out games in the PCLL, so ASU will be hard-pressed to create a tempo that will make the Bulls uncomfortable. Further, with Alex Hultgren (23g, 17a) and Kurt Stavdal (33g, 1a) dealing out of the midfield, the Devils might have some match-up issues on the defensive end. It's a bigger upset by reputation than by seed, but I've got the Bulls, 7-6.

SCHOOLER: No. 12 California vs. No. 4 Arizona State
The Bears only have enough gas in the tank for one fight. They will not have the ability to put together two upsets. The Sun Devils win, 9-4.

Thursday, May 17 – Semifinals

COYNE: No. 5 Buffalo vs. No. 1 Cal Poly
This is rarified air for both of these programs. Buffalo never advanced past the first round in its two previous tries while Poly has only advanced to the second round once in seven attempts. Now they're playing for a shot at the whole enchilada. The Bulls have had a fine season, but the Mustangs have proven they're ready for the Big Show. SLO, 13-8.

SCHOOLER: No. 4 Arizona State vs. No. 8 Colorado
I am really happy with this match-up. These are two teams that people have written off because of their early season struggles. Assuming this matchup occurs, it will show everyone that records don't matter. The teams that are hot heading into nationals are the teams that will succeed. If you put together a strong schedule and lose some games, it will make you a better team because of it.

We all knew that the Sun Devils had a strong defense heading into the season. With Dylan Westfall and Ian Anderson running that defense, Chris Malone was able to focus more on developing his young talent. That is what he has done and it paid off in the SLC championships. John Galvin has a similar story. After weeding out the players who were not intersted in taking lacrosse seriously, he has turned a young team into a contender. I just think the Sun Devils' defense will be too much for the Buffs to handle. ASU, 9-7.

COYNE: No. 3 Brigham Young vs. No. 2 Colorado State
The rubber match between these two teams takes place in Greenville after BYU won the regular season match-up and Colorado State rolled in the RMLC championship game. Who takes the third? Just remember that this is exactly what happened last year, and the Cougars prevailed in the nationals semis. It'll happen again, and by the same score. BYU, 14-11.

SCHOOLER: No. 6 Chapman vs. No. 2 Colorado State
I would love to see an SLC finals, but that would be too good to be true. The Rams have learned a lot about themselves from their losses. After dismantling BYU in the RMLC finals, I do not see these guys slowing down. I used to play against Alex Smith and he was a solid goalie. I had no idea that he would be an even better coach. Rams, 13-10.

Saturday, May 19 – Finals

COYNE: No. 3 Brigham Young vs. No. 1 Cal Poly
The first time these two met, Brigham Young was at the tail-end of a three-games-in-four-day grind on the West Coast, and lost, 10-9 despite out-shooting the Mustangs 22-8 in the second half. The Cougars couldn't find an answer for Matt Graupmann (7g) and the goalie play was sub-par (44.4%) while Poly did a nice job keeping Ferrin (1g, 1a) in check.

The chance that the Mustangs will be able to have this happen again? Nil. The glare will be too bright for Marc Lea's talented bunch while BYU will have the knowledge they have done it before. CP will snap out of it in the fourth quarter, but by then the damage will be done. It's a repeat for the Cougs, 13-10.

SCHOOLER: No. 2 Colorado State vs. No. 4 Arizona State
The Sun Devils are on a roll. It does not seem like there is a team out there that can stop them. They have been so close to winning that national championship, but you will not see a new team taking home the title this year.

Colorado State has finished the season strong, too. The Rams dismantled BYU, a team that I thought was untouchable. Alex Smith is great at identifying a team's weakness and exposing it. The extra day of rest will give him plenty of time to implement his plan and execute it. The Rams take home their record fifth national championship in an 8-7 victory.

Schooling Schooler Archive

Week Ten: Break Up the SELC (Literally)
Week Nine: Schedule Spotlights Coaches
Week Eight: The Problem With Polls
Week Seven: When Will Duluth Break Through?
Week Six: The MCLA's Internecine Snobbery
Week Five: Finally, the Buffaloes Stampede
Week Four: Spartans Make Their Stand
Week Three: Wither the Sun Devils?
Week Two: Nick's Bittersweet Weekend
Week One: Time to Feed the Ego


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