As some of you know I cover our, what I like to call, B1G Little Lacrosse League and that typically, the Big Ten, of the fraction of schools in the conference that actually play Lacrosse, is traditionally quite good at the sport. In the past I’d write more frequently, but due to lack of interest I figured intermittent updates on Big Ten lacrosse would be more suited to the attention, or lack thereof this underrated sport gets (and you’re all fools for it!). Shame too because the Big Ten is typically a dominant force in College Lacrosse. This season, however, things are not going as outstandingly for most Big Ten LAX teams with some early losses that can actually affect the rest of the season.
Currently, we are just a few weeks into the main season (excluding the varying amount of exhibition/scrimmage weeks that happen prior), with the 3rd, 4th, or 5th game (team dependent) coming up for our B1G LAX teams this weekend.
As a refresher, the Big Ten has six teams which compete in Men’s D1 Lacrosse
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Johns Hopkins
At the end of 2019, four Big Ten teams finished the season ranked in the Top 20 of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association’s (USILA) final poll. Penn State (#3), Maryland (#6), Johns Hopkins (#11), and Ohio State (#19).
At this current point in the 2020 season only Penn State and Maryland are on dominating runs with Penn State currently 3-0 with comfortable wins over Lafayette, Villanova (ranked #20 at the time), and St. Joseph’s, and Maryland at 3-1 with a win against #6 Penn on Saturday, but a loss to currently unranked Villanova during an early week Tuesday game.
Michigan is 2-1 with solid wins over meh teams Cleveland State and Canisius(wtf is a canisius?) and a game 2 loss to Hofstra. Rutgers is also 2-1. The Scarlet Knights had a strong 20-9 opening win over Quinnipiac, and Rutgers fans were excited, then beat regional foe St. John’s, but performed abysmally against #7 Army this past weekend losing 4-15. #17 Ohio State is also 2-1 with wins over Detroit Mercy (a killer 23-9 win over this team from a school I have never heard of) and Boston University, but a close 7-9 loss to UMass, currently #19. Johns Hopkins, somehow only on game 3 this upcoming weekend, is 1-1 with a Towson win and a Loyola (#11) loss.
This is honestly a pretty poor start for this conference. As an FYI Penn State was unanimously selected as the preseason men’s lacrosse Big Ten Championship favorite in the preseason coaches’ poll. Next was Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Ohio State, Rutgers and Michigan. The preseason USILA rankings for all of D1 lacrosse had Penn State as #2, Maryland at #4, Johns Hopkins at #11, Ohio State #12, and Rutgers and Michigan out of the Top 20.
Currently, the USILA rankings are Penn State #1, Maryland #4, Johns Hopkins #15 (fell 5 from the previous week), Ohio State #17 (fell 5 from the previous week), and Rutgers receiving votes after falling out of the rankings at #19. I’m honestly a little confused as to WHY Johns Hopkins is that high, buuuut whatever.
If you’re thinking, “it’s still early, these are just single losses for these teams,” for perspective, in 2019 Maryland won its first 5 games in a row, Penn State won its first 3 in a row, Ohio State won its first 7 games in a row. Rutgers and Michigan had similar starts as they have had this season, but it is worth noting that they did not finish the season ranked and did not get preseason attention. Johns Hopkins somehow sucked last year and still got love from the polls, but... also whatever.
Anyway, these early games for Big Ten teams are important NCAA Tournament gimmes given how the Lacrosse gauntlet gets way tougher at the middle to end of the season, and especially once they get into Big Ten play.
All B1G Lacrosse games for this weekend are on Saturday, Feb 22nd.
This weekend, Penn State, the only team truly making the conference proud (gag) faces #3 Yale in game 4, and this game is a big deal because Penn State lost to a ranked Yale in their game 4 last year. This is 100% a revenge game, but I think #1 Penn State can definitely handle themselves.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights looks to get back on their steed at they face a #11 ranked Loyola. This game is a tough test for Rutgers, but if they somehow pull off an upset win, the season can be salvaged. Their performance against a ranked Army last weekend doesn’t give me a lot of faith, however.
Maryland faces an unranked Navy. Navy is currently 2-1, but had an absurdly high amount of scrimmages for some reason compared to other teams. I imagine Maryland should do just fine, but I think this game will show whether or not they deserve to still be in the Top 5.
Michigan faces Merrimack... Uhhh, they’ll do... fine... I guess? Look, Michigan is not too strong at Lacrosse, okay, so I never give them much faith, but I still root for B1G LAX teams vs. non, so go Wolverines, I guess.
Johns Hopkins faces North Carolina in their third game of the season. Honestly, I don’t know. Hopkins is 1-1, with a strong cupcake win and a 3 point loss to Loyola, now ranked. They obviously have potential. I don’t know though, I’m very down on the Blue Jays this year.
Ohio State faces #25 Bucknell. What’s interesting is that Bucknell is currently ranked right below UMass, a team Ohio State lost to. This gane will reveal if Ohio State belongs at the bottom of the Top 20 or even in the rankings at all. Ohio State is in good hands I think though and their loss to UMass more reflects the fact that UMass is better than expected more than that Ohio State is bad.
And that’s an update on our B1G Little Lacrosse League. Expect another update in like 3 weeks or if you guys ask for one earlier?