Happy Friday, and welcome to Week 1 (2?) of the NCAA DI lacrosse season. This weekend marks the opening for a number of teams across America, including most of the top 20. The Ivy League starts a little bit later than everyone else, but otherwise most of the sport is playing games that count.
Each week, there is an entire slate of games to choose from, with DraftKings offering lines for your game picking enjoyment. Check out the Friday episode of the Sticks In podcast to get a run through the whole slate, with the lines, and picks for each game. This, however, will be a weekly written piece with my three favorite games for the week.
Be warned. I’m not a pro gambler. I’m not even an amateur gambler. I am very bad at this. Last summer I tracked my picks for a PLL season and ended up a handful of units because I got rescued by plus money on player props. But I won’t let a little issue like “aggressively loses money” to stop me from making picks this college season. Or maybe it’s time to call 1-800-GAMBLER.
This will be out every Friday, and I’ll write it on Thursday. All spreads/odds listed below were what was up on DraftKings at the time of writing, but may have shifted slightly leading up to faceoff.
This week, here are my three favorite games.
Marquette +1.5 (-105) over Utah
Both these teams have played a game so we’ve at least had a look at them. Marquette feels undervalued here. Utah got beaten fairly soundly by Denver in week one. Marquette blew out Lindenwood, so it’s not like their track record is doing them any favors with the oddsmakers right now. Marquette had 17 goals against Lindenwood scored by nine different players. Cole Emmanuel went 10/12 facing off, Luke Williams went 5/9. Michael Allieri saved 82% of the shots he saw. Lindenwood is not a top tier opponent and Utah is regarded as a fringe top 20 team, so it’s not quite apples to apples here. But I honestly believe Marquette is better at multiple spots. Mason Woodword can win a matchup with Tyler Bradbury or any other Utah attackman, and it could limit what the Utes do offensively. I think Marquette getting 1.5 feels like a good bet, and I would even throw a little on the ML here +140.
UMass +1.5 (-135) over Army
UMass has some quality pieces back from a year ago, and an excellent goalie in Matt Knote. While the transfer portal talk usually is focused on UVA, Rutgers, Georgetown, and other Top 10 teams, the Minuteman quietly had an excellent class of new faces come in. Ryan Sharkey joins from Canisius where he was First Team All MAAC on defense. Chris Campbell was First Team All NEC with LIU and joins him. These two, in front of Knote, will be a stifling force for UMass all season. On the other side, Army graduated Brendan Nichtern, and with him the QB and driving force of the offense. Nichtern had 60 assists last year, no one else on the team had more than 15. He had 101 points, no one else had more than 44. Reese Burek was the second highest scorer on the team and his back this year, where he likely becomes an offensive leader. Greg Cannella teams will be tough and physical. Army will play top level defense. This is just how these programs always are. I like this one to stay close and UMass to possibly win outright. UMass against an Army team that was senior heavy and lost critical pieces at multiple positions feels like the smart pick.
Penn State -1.5 (+110) over Villanova
Nittany Lions trounced Lafayette in their opener, 21-11. The goal total may have been slightly inflated by venue, as Holuba Hall is notoriously tough on goalies. This game will be played at Villanova, so the total should come down a bit. Penn State saw 15 different players register a point in that Villanova game. 13 of their 21 goals were assisted. They shared the ball, and took high percentage shots. Their top three scorers, Matt Traynor, Chris Jordan, and TJ Malone shot a combined 11 for 23. Mac Costin and Jack Traynor, two impact players for Penn State, didn’t do as much scoring because they didn’t have to fill the stat sheet as much. Villanova gets their first run of the year. They return some excellent talent from a year ago for grad years, specifically Patrick Daly and Chet Comizio. Daly is a top tier goal scorer who can either QB an offense or serve as an off ball weapon, while Comizio is one of the best SSDMs in the nation. The top weapon will be Matt Campbell, a legit pro prospect in the midfield. I consider Penn State a solid buy low team. As I said last week, this is a group that lost to Cornell, Rutgers, and Penn by a goal last year, and had wins over Michigan and Yale. They were more talented than their record, and they return a great deal of the talent from a year ago. Plus money makes me feel good about picking them against the spread.
And finally, something special for all you game pickers. I am tracking spreads, odds, results, and outcomes for every team in DI this year when there is a line available. I am sharing that with everyone for the season. I hope it allows you to bet responsibly and with as much information as possible. Enjoy it yourself, share it others, tell them to visit Sticks In.
Each team has a tab with their schedule on it. This part was due to the incredibly thankless job that Chris Jastrzembski does every year. For each team, you can see the spread, money line, and game total, along with their record for the year both straight up and against the spread. A green highlight means that was a winning outcome, a red means it lost. The lines will be entered once they go live on DraftKings, then again on Saturday morning just before the games start. This way, they will reflect the odds that were available the moment the game faced off. Just about every game should be as up to date as possible, the only challenge is that I’m in Connecticut, and because of the law I am geofenced from seeing any CT school gambling lines. So Yale, Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac, and Fairfield in particular will require me getting lines from someone outside the state. Over the course of the year, you’ll be able to see what teams are best on the moneyline, against the spread, who hits overs the most, and so forth.