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2009 E-Lacrosse Feature: Stranglehold on NCAA lacrosse; weekend picks

I hate it when I'm right.

Well, that is, only when it comes to picking NCAA tournament lacrosse games each year. But if you're sick of my cynical rants about college lacrosse's glass ceiling, stop reading now. In the words of Midnight Oil's Peter Garrett, "The rich get richer, the poor get the picture." The title monopoly is just a never-ending cycle of the best players picking the same four or five schools that win the title and so on and so on.

Once again this past weekend, that rusty nail was driven home.

As you know by now, all but one of the first-round games were won by the higher seed. The one upset was Maryland over Notre Dame, and was that even considered an upset? In the interests of real growth in the game and Notre Dame's last two first-round losses -- to Johns Hopkins in 2007 and Syracuse in 2008 -- anything that gets the Irish deeper into the tournament would be an upset.

In the traditional sense of lacrosse, Maryland beats Notre Dame every time. But on that same note, the Terps also lose in the next round to Syracuse every time.

Notre Dame is one of the programs I am counting on in my lifetime to break the stranglehold on the NCAA hardware. Duke is another team who has a chance.

But these teams, when they have strong years, ultimately lose when expected in the bracket -- and often by a goal in overtime, like the outcome was fixed. It's not, which is a shame, because we could do something about that. But it's just the cycle of self-interest that is known as human nature. Why do people always choose the restaurants with the longest waiting lines?

The game suffers from free will, common sense and the desire to win. We don't want to change those things. It will have to work itself out in time.

Maybe at some elite camp somewhere this summer, the top five or 10 recruits for the class of 2012 will initiate a conspiracy to all go to Notre Dame or maybe Jacksonville.

Unfortunately, that's what it may take to pull off a real insurgence in lacrosse -- one that gives us real change at the top, not just Notre Dame becoming seeded in the tournament, or Delaware making it to the final four, or Maryland losing in the championship. We've seen those things before, and they just tease us.

With that said, here are my picks for this weekend:
Syracuse beats Maryland
Virginia beats Johns Hopkins
Princeton beats Cornell
UNC beats Duke

You may think UNC over Duke is an upset, but it's not in the long-term perspective. If, by some strange circumstances, Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Duke made the final four, I'd bet the house on the Blue Jays. I can't even imagine Maryland vs. Cornell or Duke in the final. Johns Hopkins beats Cornell, or the Blue Jays beat Duke just sounds much more probable. Again, I hope I am wrong.

I hate it when I'm right.

May 14, 2009
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