Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin (This content was originally published in our newsletter)
National title defense – JMU enters the NCAA Tournament as the defending national champion, but the Dukes certainly aren’t favored to repeat as national champs. They have a tough road ahead.
Friday’s battle – JMU (16-3) faces Stony Brook (15-4) today at 4 p.m. Both teams come into the game hot, with the Dukes winning their last nine games and the Seawolves winning their last 11. It’s a battle of talented teams with the winner facing the nation’s No. 1 team.
Keep an eye out for turnovers. The Seawolves have won the turnover battle in all but two games this season, and one of those games was an 11-7 loss to Denver. The seven goals are the fewest Stony Brook scored all year, and the four-goal loss was the team’s biggest loss of the season. If the Dukes win the turnover battle, they’ll likely win the game as well.
The Seawolves have also scored at least 10 goals in every game except the loss to Denver. The Dukes prefer lower-scoring games dominated by their defense, so that’ll be an interesting contrast throughout. Stony Brook has scored 20 or more goals on four occasions.
I like JMU to beat Stony Brook, as the Dukes looked fantastic in the CAA Tournament and appear to be hitting their stride late in the season. It should be a tight game, however, and Stony Brook isn’t a major underdog. I’ll take JMU to win 13-10.
Up next – The winner gets No. 1 Maryland on Sunday at noon. JMU lost to the Terrapins 18-5 earlier this season. While that’s disheartening, the Dukes are a well-coached team that has improved throughout the season. There’s plenty of reason to believe the Dukes would keep a rematch with Maryland respectably close, even if they don’t pick up the win. I’ll take Maryland to win 15-9.