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Its May, folks, and you know what that means. Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer and we also have championships galore going down. NBA playoffs, NHL Stanley cup playoffs and of course the NCAA tournament in the lacrosse world! So, without stalling this much further…here’s what the first round matchups look like for the 2012 lacrosse championships.

Game 1: Syracuse University (9-7) @ #3 Duke University (13-4)

The Big East Champion Orange look do do some national damage. (Syracuse Photo)

When: Saturday, May 12, 12pm. Koskinen Stadium, Durham, N.C

Well I guess the Syracuse men’s team must have read last week’s post that kinda sorta dissed them and their lackluster 7-7 record. The Orange squeezed their way into the NCAA tournament (see what I did there?) by pulling off two upset wins in the Big East tournament, over Villanova and #1 ranked Notre Dame, to capture the 2012 Big East Championship. Now they will face an even more daunting task, as they will travel to Durham to play the #3 seeded Duke Blue Devils.

The main thing to look for with Duke, the ACC Champions is how will they come out and play this first round matchup, because they have not played a game in over two weeks. This could play heavily in the favor of the Orange. But, on the flip side, Duke plays much better at home than they do on the road, where they were a mere 2-3 this season. Either way, Duke should be ready, energized, and raring to go. Or they could come out sloppy and tired. No matter what it should lead to a very entertaining game.

Prediction: Going with the hometown favorite, as the Orange squeeze out another upset!… Jeeze I’m on a roll today!

Game 2: Colgate University Raiders (13-3) @ #6 UMass Minutemen (15-0)

Can Colgate push its way through Umass? (Colgate Photo)

When: Saturday, May 12, 2:30pm. Garber Field, Amherst, MA

This will be a battle of firsts for the Raiders and the Minutemen. This will be the first time either school has faced one another in lacrosse at any level. For Colgate, it is only their second appearance in the NCAA tournament, and their first time getting an at-large bid (Lehigh won the automatic bid by winning the Patriot League). How did the Raiders get to the NCAA tournament??? Well I would think a lot of it has to do with the 2012 Patriot League player of the year Peter Baum and his 59 goals and 27 assists this season. Baum is also a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, which is the Lacrosse equivalent of the Heisman trophy.

UMass, is looking to take their 15-0 record (good enough to net them the Colonial League Championship) and march all the way to Boston to the NCAA championship, as they have finally made it back into the tournament for the first time 2009. It looks as if there is no stopping them.

Prediction:  Colgate hangs tough with the Minutemen, but UMASS is just too much… UMASS wins the first round.

Game 3: Canisius College Golden Griffins (6-7) @ Loyola (MD) Greyhounds (14-1)

Their record might not be indicative of a tournament team, but don’t sleep on Canisius. (gogriffins.com)

When: Saturday, May 12, 5pm. Ridley Athletic Complex, Baltimore, MD.

Now, I was quite interested when I saw that there are four NY state programs (We’ve covered three so far) that made it into the NCAA tournament. I was even more surprised when I saw that Canisius College got in with a losing record of 6-7, but it made sense because they got the automatic bid with the MAAC championship. So, kudos to them for beating the system by winning the conference title and eliminating another more deserving program from the NCAA tournament. Go Griffins!

On the other hand, Loyola is definitely a team very much deserving of being in the NCAA tourney, and they more than likely will come to play, as they too are looking for their first ever national title. They will do whatever it takes to punch their ticket to Boston. The Greyhounds had to go through a tough Denver team in the ECAC tournament, and then they showed why they’re one of the best teams in the country, as they took care of business against Fairfield on their way to the ECAC Championship.

Prediction: Loyola wins hands down

Game 4: Denver University Pioneers (8-6) @ UNC Tar Heels (11-5)

Can Denver will their way past UNC? It won’t be easy, that’s for sure. (Laxallstars.com)

When: Saturday, May 12, 7:30pm. Fetzer Field, Chapel Hill, N.C.

When you think of college lacrosse, many names come to mind…Syracuse, Virginia, Princeton, Duke, North Carolina…even Cornell has a great program…but Denver?!  Although probably one of the lesser known programs in the country, The Pioneers (rightfully named) have been climbing their way to the top of the NCAA ranking ever since they started a program in 1998. They have been spotted making a splash in the tournament from time to time, and in 2011 they made their first ever Final Four appearance. Not too bad for the self proclaimed “Lacrosse capitol of the west.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina has been one of the quieter teams this season, putting together a good, but not great, record of 11-5 while they playing second fiddle to the Blue Devils all season.Tthey did manage to give Duke a run for their money in the ACC title game this year, though. Not too sure how deep the Tar Heels can make it this season, but they might be able to make a run for the NCAA title if they play their cards right.

Prediction: UNC win with the home crowd behind them

If you think we’re finished here you’re sadly mistaken… I’ll be back tomorrow with my breakdown of all of the Sunday matchups. Stay tuned!

Big League Clu

About Big League Clu

Clu Haywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When he sneezes, he looks like a party favor. Also, he's been known to hit the ball "too high" and alleges to have illegitimately fathered Jake Tayor's non-existent children. You can also find him on Twitter @bigleagueclu

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