Item: There may end up being reservations after just one season among ACC lacrosse coaches to the new tournament format, and the reason is time, or more specifically, too much of it.
Coming off a season in which other than the mulligan of the Colgate loss to begin play in early February (The 4-8 Raiders will likely not even make the Patriot League Tournament – ouch.), and the one goal finishes that could have gone either way against Virginia and Duke, the now No. 7 Syracuse team is certainly playing like its primed to get over the hump of returning to the Final Four weekend for the first time since 2013 in Philadelphia, ironically the site of this year’s games on May 25-27.
The first order of business is a quick (12 days) rematch with host North Carolina in the reformatted ACC Tournament starting Thursday night on the Tar Heels new lacrosse field (6:00 p.m. ET / ACC Network Extra), where the Orange looked good winning 13-9 on April 13.
In a change voted on by the conference coaches last year to include all five men’s programs, SU, despite winning four straight and seven of eight to end the regular season, now has to play an “extra” game.
If Syracuse (9-3) wins Thursday against UNC (7-6), it must turnaround less than 48 hours later and face top seed Virginia (11-3) on the way to potentially playing in the championship game, moved a week forward to May 4 on the field of the highest remaining seed, which, of course, cannot be the ‘Cuse hosting at No. 4.
No. 2 Duke (11-3) and No. 3 Notre Dame (7-5) meet in the other semifinal on April 27.
Forwarding the title game is only beneficial for the two teams playing May 4, a week before the lax version of Selection Sunday reveals the 17 team NCAA bracket, but not great for the other three ACC teams, two of whom are likely going to be at-large selections and will have had two weeks plus off before the NCAA opening round games on campus sites the weekend of May 11-12.
Theoretically, Syracuse could again draw this week’s No. 9 seed Cornell in a first-round NCAA rematch from last year in the Dome due to easy travel logistics for the selection committee, and it would be another quick rematch from a regular season 13-8 ‘Cuse Dome win on April 9.
Cornell would be coming off the Ivy League tournament the weekend before, while SU could have either 15 days or a whopping 17 days off between its two most important games of the season. That is not ideal for an Orange team used to the rhythms of playing weekly or in some cases twice a week against the Big Red and Hobart each April.
Solutions are tricky when wanting include all five ACC teams. You can’t schedule three games with enough time off between games to balance the academic schedules of the players, so adding the extra week became the alternative.
Next year Notre Dame is slated to host the event and Syracuse in 2021 under a new Dome roof, with the format subject to evaluation by the league/coaches in the off season.