Syracuse Lacrosse NCAA Tournament Preview: Just Who Is Bryant?

USA TODAY Sports

WAHOOO. Cuse' Lax back on top with the number one overall seed. First they have to play some 8-10 team named Bryant in the Dome on Sunday, 7:30 PM on ESPNU...Should we be worried?

First and foremost... SYRACUSE IS BACK BABY!

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So who is this 8-10 team that Syracuse drew for round one? Bryant? Unless there's a "Kobe" in front of them I don't really care. Brent Axe kind of agrees (although it's a tangential lacrosse topic) and reminds us that the Orange are taking on a team that started off 0-7.

The Bulldogs are an old foe of LeMoyne before Bryant made the D1 move in 2009 with 2013 being their first NCAA tournament appearance. The Bulldogs had two common opponents with the Orange: Albany and Providence, both which were losses. (Syracuse lost to Albany, defeated Providence.)

Even though the record isn't stellar, the conference that holds the Bulldogs' AQ isn't great and this is largely being written off as an upset, there are some areas of concern for the Orange. Namely, at the old nemesis of face-offs.

Kevin Massa leads the NCAA in face-off win percentage at 71%. They have a strong transition offense equaling points if the Orange can't get their face-off situation in order by Sunday. The key to the game will be twofold: Bryant's ability to find their scorers and withstand Syracuse's offense.

Bryant has four players over the 40 point mark this season with Collin Dunster tallying 31 goals on the season. If the Bulldogs can navigate a Syracuse defense that shut down the likes of Cornell and Notre Dame. On the other side of things, Syracuse's loaded offense can offset any possession advantage Bryant builds. The Orange have seven guys who are legitimate scoring threats on or off ball with JoJo Marasco and Derek Maltz being leading facilitators.

Overall, this is a one-underdog matchup for a reason. While Bryant isn't the weakest team in the tournament (that would be Detroit) they're not much better. The Bulldogs are hot and a strong start could mean trouble for the Orange but a quick handful of Syracuse goals should restore order and send the Orange into round two.

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