2022 NCAA Tournament Preview: Bottom Half

(Photo Courtesy of Georgetown Athletics)

The NCAA Tournament bracket is set and the fight to be the final team standing on Memorial Day gets underway on Saturday at high noon.

Each half (top and bottom) of the bracket will see two teams advance to Championship Weekend in Hartford, Conn. This year, the road to Championship Weekend will run through Hempstead, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio.

The bottom half of the bracket features the second-seeded Georgetown, who come into the tournament with just one single blemish (Princeton) on their resume.

You can view the full NCAA Bracket (printable) here.

Here’s a look at some storylines and superlatives for the bottom half of the bracket:

National Title Favorite

No. 2 seed Georgetown is the clear-cut favorite to come out of the bottom half of the bracket as they enter the tournament with a 15-1 record and on an 11-game winning streak as they haven’t dropped a game since faltering against Princeton in early March.

For a second season in a row, defense is the headliner of this Hoyas team. Owen McElroy anchors that unit as one of the best goalies in college lacrosse, meanwhile the two-headed monster of Will Bowen and Gibson Smith puts fears in the eyes of offense across the landscape. Graham Bundy, Jr., and Dylan Watson lead a talented offensive unit while James Reilly takes care of business at the faceoff dot. In short, the Hoyas don’t have many holes.

Best First-Round Game

I wrote about this on Monday in my ranking of all eight first-round games, but No. 7 Cornell welcoming in Ohio State for a rematch could be the best game of the first round in general. Cornell won the last meeting 14-11 in a contest where the faceoff dot and ride served as lynchpins as Big Red held Buckeyes to a 12-of-19 mark in the clearing game, and Angelo Petrakis went 16-for-29 (55%). Additionally, Gavin Adler held Jack Myers to one goal. Evolved since then, how these two teams matchup in May should be a treat to watch, especially so with some of the similarities in the way these two play.

Best Potential Matchup

There isn’t a clear-cut “favorable” quarterfinal matchup on the bottom half of the bracket as any which way those first-round games shake out there will be some exciting games next weekend. But above, Penn vs Rutgers in Hempstead would be the best. Not only do these teams have powerful offenses and have shown the ability to play fast, but these two meeting will garner it a matchup nickname: the Mitch Bartolo bowl. A Leader for Rutgers, Bartolo is spending his final season of college lacrosse withe the Scarlet Knights as a a grad transfer from Penn. So on top of all the play that would likely be had, that storyline around the game would give it even more intrigue.

Underdog With The Most Potential

Richmond has upset potential for sure, being that they pulled off one of the biggest of the regular season against Virginia. But looking hard at this half of the bracket, I find myself more intrigued with the No. 6 Rutgers v.s. Harvard game and the potential upset by the Crimson there. A young squad, Harvard has only two top-five scorers (Austin Madronic and Hayden Cheek) that aren’t upperclassmen and goalie Kyle Mullin is the lone senior amongst that starting defensive core. Despite their youth-heavy squad, Harvard has proven themselves worthy of being able to play with top teams this season with wins over Brown and Princeton as well as Boston U. And considering Princeton deploys a similar style NASCAR offense implemented by offensive coordinator Jim Mitchell (former Rutgers assistant) as the Scarlet Knights, it wouldn’t be that surprising to see the Crimson hang in and run with Rutgers and possibly pull the upset.

One Player From Each Team You Need to Know

Tye Kurtz, Attack, Delaware: The Delaware offense has been buzzing as of late and one of the main leaders on that end if Tye Kurtz. The attackman has notched 46 goals and 15 assists for 61 points thus far in 2022. 49% of that production (30 points) has come in the past four weeks.

Will Bowen, Defense, Georgetown: Bowen came to Georgetown after making a name for himself at North Carolina and has only continued his reputation as one of the bets defensemen in college lacrosse. Often matching up with the opponents best player, Bowen has recorded 34 caused turnovers, 41 ground balls. He has also scored one goal and assisted on three others with his transition ability.

Jack Myers, Attack, Ohio State: Myers has been the focal point of this offense and the headliner of this team since the beginning. Tallying 80 points off 36 goals and 44 assists this season, Myers has been the leader for this offense that has continued to show its depth and talent as the season has progressed.

Gavin Adler, Defense, Cornell: Making noise all season long, Adler has proven himself to be a top-tier cover guy who can take on the opponents best offensive weapon on a regular basis. He has grabbed 53 ground balls while also causing 25 turnovers this season.

Sam King, Attack, Harvard: A freshman, King has been phenomenal as a leader of this young squad. King is Harvard’ leading point-getter with 43 off 24 goals and 19 assists.

Ross Scott, Attack, Rutgers: That attack unit of Ross Scott, Mitch Bartolo, and Brian Cameron is a dangerous one. And it’s Scott who draws the headlines from that talented unit as he leads the Scarlet Knights with 62 points off 40 goals and 22 assists.

Ryan Lanchbury, Attack, Richmond: A fifth-year player, Lanchbury has been an impact player for this Richmond team for multiple years now. He has continued producing at a high-level in 2022, tallying 78 points off 39 goals and 39 assists as a threat from nearly all over the field.

Sam Handley, Midfield, Penn: The Ivy League Player of The Year, Handley is a quarterback from the midfield as the leader and most dangerous weapon on that Penn offense. Handley had notched 33 goals and 33 assists for 66 points thus far in 2022.

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