Big Ten Lacrosse is heading into it’s 5th season. The Big Ten has seen some exciting seasons in it’s short existence. In 2017 Ohio State would meet up with Maryland in not only the Big Ten Championship but in the NCAA Championship with Maryland winning the National Title. In 2018 both Johns Hopkins and Maryland would lose in back-to-back games in the NCAA tournament against Duke, ending their seasons. Can both Maryland and Johns Hopkins continue their dominance in the Big Ten? Let’s take a look at the landscape of the conference for 2019.
The Blue Jays are the current defending Big Ten Champions. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays their 2018 season came up short, as they lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to the Duke Blue Devils.
What are the expectations for the Blue Jays in 2019? They did lose a lot of their talent from 2018 and will be starting fresh at the goalie position. However this is a powerhouse lacrosse school, and they have up and coming players that can deliver a successful 2019 season.
Last season the Maryland Terrapins finished 14-4 and went 4-1 in Big Ten play. However the Terrapins would lose to Duke in the Final Four.
In 2019, Maryland will be eyeing for another spot in the NCAA tournament and expect be be back in the National Title picture. They’ve gone to the NCAA tournament five times in the past five years and won it all in 2018. The Terrapins, in spite of losing a solid chunk of seniors, have the talent to get back to a national championship.
The highlight for the Wolverines during 2018 season was knocking Penn State out of contention for a NCAA tournament bid by beating the Nittany Lions 10-9 at the end of the season. This game broke a 17-game conference losing streak. Michigan is consistently the weakest Big Ten lacrosse team.
Usually the weakest Big Ten team is not a weak team compared to other conferences. The Wolverines went 8-6 last year but went 1-4 in Big Ten. The Wolverines return all five of their 20-point scorers, which is led by senior midfielder Brent Noseworthy. If Michigan can continue to strengthen up their defense, the Wolverines have a shot to be sneaky in the Big Ten this year.
The Buckeyes NCAA tournament dreams were crashed last season by Johns Hopkins in the Big Ten semifinals, keeping them out the NCAA tournament.
This year it appears Ohio State looks to be impressive with the amount offensive talent returning for 2019. The Buckeyes could be be the Big Ten team to watch out for. Tre Leclaire, Jackson Reid and Jack Jasinski are the players to watch for as any of those guys could lead the Buckeyes back to the NCAA tournament. The last time Ohio State made the tournament was in 2017, and before that season, Ohio State would also make it to Tournament 2013 and in 2015.
Penn State has the most returning Seniors out of all Big Ten teams. This could give the Nittany Lions the potential to be a real contender in the Big Ten this season. Penn State also returns high scorers Mac O’Keefe and Nick Spillane.
The issue could be that they’ve only been to the NCAA tournament two times in eight seasons under head coach Jeff Tambroni. This is a small conference and something has to give. Can the returning talent capitalize and earn a NCAA tournament bid for the Nittany Lions?
The Scarlet Knights have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Scarlet Knights have ended their seasons right on the edge of getting into the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. Rutgers finished 9-6 last year but finished 2-3 in the Big Ten.
If Rutgers wants a shot at the tournament, they would have to stand out from the rest of the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights return Kieran Mullins which would help boost their offense. Also the return of defender Adam Charalambides who missed the whole 2018 season due to an injury will certainly help. Can the Scarlet Knights stay healthy team and fill some crucial holes left empty the seniors who graduated?