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Ivy showdown and two ACC vs Big 10 clashes, three favorites for the week

Another loaded schedule, and with non-conference schedules winding down, it's time for teams to make a big statement on their tournament resume. These are the games we'll all point to come bubble busting time. This week's favorites including a historic rivalry in the Ivy, and a pair of exciting matchups between the ACC and Big 10. Outside of DI, you should make some time to check out the Mustang Classic this weekend. Played at Stevenson University, it's two straight days of games, starting at 11am and the last game facing off at 8pm, and features nearly the entire top ten of the DIII rankings. This year's national champ will assuredly be there. On to the DI favorites.


All spreads come from DraftKings at the time of writing. Rankings are from the most recent Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. 


12 HARVARD VS 10 YALE (-2.5)


The old classic. One of the biggest and most historic rivalries in sports. Yale has won the last four meetings between the two. The series is 6-4 Yale’s way over the last 10 games. Harvard has a knack for playing close games in wins against Yale. The last time they won this game by more than one goal was 2011, and they’ve won it four times since then. 


Outside of the rivalry, this game is really compelling in a vacuum. Yale just went on the road to Denver and beat the number one team in the country, despite injuries and illnesses rampant through the roster. Yale’s offense has been excellent, even while missing two thirds of their expected starting attack. David Anderson has picked up the slack very well and stands out most, already scoring 15 goals in four games this season. But really it’s coming from everywhere. Brandau runs the show. Carson Kuhl can play attack or midfield. Max Krevsky has been a very good dodging midfielder. Patrick Hackler is impacting both ends. Freshman Peter Moynihan had two goals against Denver, he can run out of the box or at attack for Yale. They can shuffle pieces around to be dangerous, it’s very difficult to match up with well. 


Harvard has a similar story on the offensive end. Missing some key pieces, but they have a showrunner who is making it all work anyway. Sam King has been one of the best attackmen in the country so far, and is a major reason for Harvard’s undefeated start. He’s up to 36 points on a perfect split of 18 goals and 18 assists. The Crimson have been resilient. Late big plays and incredible comebacks won them games against Bryant and Bucknell. They fought off a resilient UVM team. Last week was their first really big win, knocking off Michigan on the road. Harvard has no quit in them, they will scrap to the last whistle. It’s the kind of thing that only gets amplified against your oldest and fiercest rival. 



2 NOTRE DAME (-6) VS 18 MICHIGAN


For Notre Dame, the schedule from March onward is as hard as it gets. Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan, Cuse, Duke, Cornell, UNC, Virginia. That’s the regular season from March through the end of April. Michigan is this week. The Irish this year are at worst one of the three best teams in America. But something is missing from last year. Despite all that talent being back. Maybe it’s related to losing guys like Brian Tevlin and Chris Fake. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the same “you screwed us last year and we’re coming for you all this year” attitude. But they don’t just look like the stone cold killers they were a year ago. Their resume will only get better as the year goes on. They’ll win plenty of those games above. But I find Notre Dame interesting because, as good as they are, I don’t know if I really understand their identity yet. If they were campaigning for office, what would their platform be? “We’re really good” isn’t enough to get it done, I want to know what else they’re about. This game might be a good chance to learn. 


For the Wolverines, it feels like they need a non-conference win. Their best win right now is Delaware, they just lost to Harvard. This week it’s the Irish, then it’s into Big Ten play. The tournament bubble is a scary place to be, and one way to make it a lot less scary is to have a big win against a top two team outside of conference play. The conference slate will be a brutal, the conference tournament will be brutal. The Michigan attack is experienced, QB’d by Michael Boehm and featuring one of the nation’s leading goal scorers in Justin Tiernan. It’s been over a month since the ugly start to the year against UVA. The loss to Harvard can do one of two things for this team: rattle them or inspire them. We’ll find out which one happened on Saturday. 


3 VIRGINIA (-2.5) VS 5 MARYLAND


The results from the last five times these teams met:


2023: Maryland wins 14-13 (OT)

2022: Maryland wins 18-9 (NCAA Quarterfinals)

2022: Maryland wins 23-12

2021: UVA win 17-16 (NCAA Finals)

2019: UVA wins 13-12 (OT, NCAA Quarterfinals)


The last two years, it’s been Maryland’s turn. The two years prior, it was UVA getting the better of them. Maryland is 50-46 against UVA in their long career, the first time they played was 98 years ago. This game is basically never just an afterthought. It’s always good. The two didn’t play from 2015-2018 and it sucked. 


This year’s Maryland team just can’t help itself from going to OT apparently. This year they’ve played six games, three have gone to OT, and they’ve won all three. Last week against Brown was surprising to me. They were without Luke Wierman, and played a bit of an ugly game. Scoreless on extra man, shooting when it came to hitting the net was not great, not the type of stuff that’s typical of a Maryland team. A double digit favorite needing overtime to beat a winless team is going to turn some heads. UVA is a different animal though. We get the latest installment of Zappitello and Shellenberger, both future PLL pros who have had good battles in the past, with Ajax coming out on top in my estimation. 


UVA is, on paper, the better team this year. This is their toughest opponent of the year so far though. Wins against Michigan and Ohio State are good, they help prepare you for this game. The loss to Hopkins was a sign that UVA is vulnerable, particularly if they don’t face off well. Connor Shellenberger should be the best player on the field in this one, which is why Ajax Zappitello is the most important player on the field for this game. You might not find a better one on one matchup all year. 


This is a winnable game for Maryland, despite last week’s let down. If their offense can hold up against Jurassic Park, the long and aggressive UVA defense, they have a very good chance to win. It’s a signature win opportunity for both of these teams.


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