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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Lacrosse Visits Liberty -- NCAA Bracket -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Lacrosse Visits Liberty in Midweek Game

Fresh off an upset victory over ranked Clemson at home, Louisville lacrosse hits the road to visit Liberty. The Cards enter the match with a 4-5 record and the Flames are 3-5.

Most recently, Liberty fell on the road to Arizona State 12-5 but had won two straight against Pittsburgh and San Diego 20-17 and 20-9, respectively. UofL is the fifth ACC team Liberty will play this season. The Flames do have another ACC opponent later this year in Notre Dame.

Liberty is averaging 12 goals scored per game and is allowing 13.6 goals per game. Mackenzie Lehman leads the charge with 18 goals scored and one of six players in the double figures. Three players have split time in net with a combined 42 saves.

This one has a noon draw and appears to have a stream on ESPN+, if you pay for the service.

NCAA WBB Tournament

Not counting the play-in games, the 2024 NCAA Women's Tournament begins on Friday at 11:30am. 9-seed Michigan State and 8-seed North Carolina get the honor of kicking off this year's tournament. Coincidentally, this is one of the first round games that has people split on the winner.

Louisville gets a Friday slot against 11-seed Middle Tennessee at 1:30pm on ESPN2. 

So, how do you create a perfect bracket? Absolutely no idea. I've never come close. But I do have some methods to my madness that I'm happy to share. Every person has their own methods in deciding picks but here's some of mine.

Free Throw Shooting. In a day and age where officiating is at its worst, capitalizing on trips to the charity stripe can make or break a game. Teams who shoot free throws well tend to have a higher chance of winning in close games in the closing minutes. 10-seed UNLV is a strong free throw shooting team. That, compared with a few other factors, gives me reason to believe they will upset 7-seed Creighton.

Rebounding. Rebounding both limits opposing teams' scoring opportunities while simultaneously allows your team to control the ball. Good offensive rebounding teams can propel their offense forward. Looking at 6-seed Tennessee vs 11-seed Green Bay, I think Green Bay could play upset in this game, but the Lady Vols' size and rebounding prowess is why I am going with them.

Defense. Defense wins championships. I look at teams with strong defenses. That may include points allowed, opposing shooting percentages, and forced turnovers. That's why I like 9-seed Princeton. Not only do I think they'll take down 8-seed West Virginia, but I think they could give 1-seed Iowa fits and take the game down to the wire. The same goes with 7-seed Ole Miss over 10-seed Marquette and even with a potential upset over 2-seed Notre Dame. The Rebels have a suffocating defense.

Coaching. Gosh, after the first three keys, you would've though I'm just using a FRED Report for my picks. You're not entirely wrong on that. But coaching isn't on the FRED Report. Experienced coaches with high success rates in the past tend to take their teams further. Think of Jeff Walz for example. He has coached Louisville to several Elite Eights and Final Fours. Tara Vanderveer, Geno, and Dawn Staley might be some coaches who come to mind with success in the past. Their teams might have a better chance to get through high-pressure games like in the NCAA Tournament.

Player Experience. This one isn't as crucial for me, but upper class players tend to know how to handle to the stress and pressure of the big stage as opposed to freshmen, who may run into a deer-in-the-headlights mindset. For example, the strong freshmen class of Iowa State has been fun to watch, but how do they handle playing in the NCAA Tournament against a veteran team such as Stanford in the second round?

While I have not completed my bracket yet, those are a few factors helping me make my picks. 

Upset Alert?

There's always going to be upsets. It's just a matter of picking the right ones. While I am not picking all of these to happen, these are potential upsets in the opening weekend (rounds 1 and 2) that would not surprise me.

9-seed Michigan State over 8-seed North Carolina

12-seed Florida Gulf Coast over 5-seed Oklahoma

7-seed Ole Miss over 2-seed Notre Dame

9-seed Princeton over 8-seed West Virginia

12-seed Drake over 5-seed Colorado

10-seed UNLV over 7-seed Creighton

5-seed Utah over 4-seed Gonzaga

6-seed Tennessee over 3-seed NC State

5-seed Baylor over 4-seed Virginia Tech

11-seed Middle Tennessee over 6-seed Louisville

We ask that you submit your bracket by 10:30am ET this Friday in order to be entered in the Cardinal Couple Pick Em. Entering your brackets earlier than that is always appreciated. Please make your pick for all 63 games and the total combined score of the championship game as a tiebreaker. Each correct pick is worth 1 point. We do not do a weighted scoring for later rounds.

Happy Thursday and Go Cards!


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