After a week of waiting following the ACC Tournament, we finally know where the Syracuse Orange stand in the NCAA Tournament. The Orange pulled the sixth seed and will be in the NCAAs for the 12th time in 13 years. They will host the winner of Boston College and Canisius on Sunday at SU Soccer Stadium. Both teams are familiar to the 'Cuse, who play the Eagles regularly in the ACC and have faced the the Golden Griffins in non-conference contests since 2014.
Boston College (13-6) finished the season fifth in the ACC and made it to the ACC Tournament semifinals before losing to North Carolina. The Eagles had an RPI of 12 and a SOS of eighth, which almost assured them a spot in the tournament.
Canisius (15-4) made it in on the strength of an automatic qualifier by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament on Sunday. The Golden Griffins dominated the MAAC in the regular season, gained the top seed in their tournament and edged Fairfield in the final.
Boston College should have a considerable advantage on Friday when they take on the Golden Griffins. Canisius, including their tournament, went undefeated in MAAC play, with a 10-0 record. However, the Griffs have struggled against top teams this year, losing to Syracuse 18-6, North Carolina 16-8 and Northwestern 9-7. The Eagles have been playing very solid lacrosse at this point in the season, losing to North Carolina twice both times by only three goals. They also lost to Syracuse at the beginning of the season 18-8 but have a win over Virginia and a pair of victories over Notre Dame.
In terms of talent, Boston College clearly has a pretty big edge and really shouldn't have a problem against Canisius in the first round. If the Eagles don't look ahead to a rematch with the Orange on Sunday, I would be surprised if it was closer than six goals. Having said that, I expect that it will be BC and SU on Sunday (#OrangeEagle points, anyone?).
I'll be honest. While I'm pleased with the seeding (I expected that we'd get a 7-seed), the Boston College matchup gives me some concerns. Forget about the 18-8 win at the beginning of the season, because this one's gonna be a dogfight. I'll get into more details after Friday's game, but suffice to say that the Eagles did not have junior attacker Kenzie Kent in the regular season contest. Kent, who is also on the BC women's ice hockey team, did not switch over until the end of March and her stats are already impressive. In seven games, she's tallied 18 goals and 22 assists and that makes an already dangerous Eagles offense that much more so.
Syracuse will be entering Sunday's contest after two weeks off. Boston College will be in the same situation, but has a good chance to shake off some of that rust against Canisius. It's entirely possible that the Eagles will be able to get ahead enough on the Golden Griffins that they can bench some of their starters in the second half to get some extra rest. This means a potentially rusty Orange squad could face a loosened up BC team ready for some payback from their earlier season drubbing.
The ACC put six out of eight teams in the NCAAT this year, including Syracuse and Boston College. North Carolina got an expected No. 2 seed, while Virginia, Notre Dame and Louisville (win over the Orange absolutely helped) also received spots.