Commentary

Higher seeds have upper hand in Day 2

Updated: August 6, 2009, 4:16 PM ET
By Quint Kessenich | ESPN.com

The NCAA men's lacrosse tournament continues Sunday with the final four games of the first round, so we asked ESPN/IL analyst Quint Kessenich to share his thoughts on each of the games with us. Here's his take on the Sunday slate, which runs from noon through approximately 9:30 p.m. ET, with all games on ESPNU.

MarylandNotre Dame Maryland at No. 7 Notre Dame
Noon ET | Alumni Field -- South Bend, Ind.
ESPNU


Quint's Take

The Fighting Irish have the nation's stingiest defense, allowing 6.13 goals per game. They pack it in defensively, protecting the middle of the field. Scott Rodgers fills up the net; his goals-against average is a measly 6.08 and he has stopped 66 percent of the shots fired on him. Maryland will get its 10- to 12-yard step-down shots and must rip the corners if it's going to advance.

On offense, Notre Dame operates out of a deuces set and Ryan Hoff is the target on the crease. Don't be surprised if Maryland plays a five-man scheme with a shorty faceguard locked onto Hoff.

VillanovaUVa Villanova at No. 1 Virginia
2:30 p.m. ET | Klockner Stadium -- Charlottesville, Va.
ESPNU


Quint's Take

The difference in Charlottesville will be UVa's team speed.

Getting Chris McDonald back for a fifth year was critical for the Wildcats' success in 2009. They have 13 seniors on their roster, which is a dangerous trait in May. Nova played like it had something to prove against Hofstra and Towson; it'll need that edge and more against the Cavaliers.

Virginia is third in the nation in scoring offense; it has five 20-goal scorers. The Cavs lead the country in assists per game, with many of those coming in transition. Danny Glading has 27 setups. Nova's Brian Karalunas will be tested by Glading. Karalunas is a checker -- a former hockey player who's great off the carpet -- and although not the fastest defender, he has a sneaky trail check.

The Cavs have been held to single digits just once, and that was in their last effort, a loss to Duke. Nova has never seen dodgers who are as fast as Shamel Bratton, Steve Giannone and Glading.

Virginia has had a week to ace final exams and restore egos. The Cavs feel as if they've had to apologize for their No. 1 seed after two late losses to Duke.

The Cavs are a surprising minus-7 in specialty situations; the extra-man offense hasn't meshed well in 2009. Opponents have clamped down on Brian Carroll in the 3-3 set, and the outside shooters have been just "fair."

Villanova's goalie, Andrew DiLoreto, gives up fewer than seven goals per game, good for fourth in Division I. The Wildcats' offense lacks a true bomber from the midfield. They want to jam the ball inside, so UVa has been practicing against a seventh offensive player in half-field sets this week.

UMassPrinceton UMass at No. 4 Princeton
5 p.m. ET | Class of 1952 Stadium -- Princeton, N.J.
ESPNU


Quint's Take

UMass has an excellent and underrated defense. I've seen the Minutemen on tape; they're very vanilla, physical and slow to slide upfield to dodgers. They trust Doc Schneider to make midrange saves; he's stopped 65.8 percent of the shots he's faced in his senior season. Princeton will have to dodge with confidence. Midfielders such as Rich Sgalardi and Scott Mackenzie will be encouraged to dodge hard to the rack for shots, not feeds. Sophomore attackman Jack McBride has found the net 34 times, but he'll be covered by Diogo Godoi.

The key to this game will be whether UMass can find a way to score on Princeton. Tigers defender Chris Peyser is a coach and captain on the crease. Princeton will slide early, forcing UMass to become passers. Only 40 percent of UMass goals have been assisted -- Bobby Hayes leads the team in helpers with only 14.

Jim Connolly leads UMass with 35 goals and likes to press the goal in transitional situations  4-on-4s and 5-on-5s. He's less inclined to dodge when 6-on-6.

SienaSyracuse Siena at No. 2 Syracuse
7:30 p.m. ET | Carrier Dome -- Syracuse, N.Y.
ESPNU


Quint's Take

The MAAC has had dismal first-round results since being granted the automatic qualifier. Can Siena frustrate SU with its deliberate style? Can it win enough faceoffs and ground balls in the middle third of the field to possess the ball for long stretches?

The Saints will try to play keep-away. Tactically, the Orange defense must apply pressure to the ball and the two adjacent men, sloughing in off-ball to protect the middle of the field. Stall warnings will come early and often.

The Orange led the nation in scoring offense, with Kenny Nims chipping in more than four points per game. Stephen Keogh has 41 goals; he never misses. Siena will drop back in all riding situations to deny transition -- SU has to be patient itself and take what's available.

Saints goalie Brent Herbst has saved 63 percent of the shots fired on him and his defense is No. 2 in the nation in goals against at 6.24. But this is a different animal. Siena's early-season losses against Hopkins by eight, Albany in OT and Loyola by two will allow them to keep this one closer than Vegas expects. Otto the Orange can book his trip down to Hofstra for the quarterfinals.

Vice President Joe Biden will be speaking at SU graduation ceremonies this weekend; will he stay for the game?

Enjoy the games on ESPNU.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN. He can be reached at quint@insidelacrosse.com.

Quint Kessenich covers college and professional lacrosse for ESPN.