(Photo Courtesy of Penn State Athletics)
The 2023 Big Ten Tournament gets underway on Saturday, April 29 with the quarterfinals. The semifinals and title game will be played on Thursday, May 4 and Saturday, May 6.
Penn State will play host to the semifinals and title game as the top seed.
No. 1 Penn State (9-3, 4-1 Big Ten)
After two abysmal seasons, happiness has returned to Happy Valley with the Nittany Lions once again ascending to the top of the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions’ only loss in league play is to Maryland.
Star Player: TJ Malone, Attack
After missing last season due to injury, Malone has returned in a big was as he has led the Nittany Lions with 54 points off 26 goals and 28 assists thus far. Malone has been a focal part of an offense that has been massively more experienced and improved in 2023.
X-Factor: Jack Fracyon, Goalie
The sophomore has been the Nittany Lions’ full-time starter in cage this season after seeing some starting action a year ago. Fracyon has not disappointed, making 166 saves with a 58.2% save percentage en route to asserting himself as one of the best goalies in the Big Ten and the nation as a whole. He leads the conference and is third in DI in save percentage.
Player to Watch: Jack Posey, Defense
Posey has arguably been of the biggest breakout stars this season. The senior has been matched up against the top opposing offensive player in almost every single contest and has thrived in that role. He has nine caused turnovers and 24 ground balls on the year thus far.
No. 2 Johns Hopkins (11-4, 4-1 Big Ten)
Is Hopkins back? After multiple down years, the Blue Jays have returned to the top-tier group on both the national level and amongst the Big Ten. While their official backness can be debated, there is no denying how much this team has improved from last season.
Star Player: Jacob Angelus, Attack
Angelus has put up 15 goals and 36 assists for 51 points thus far as the leading point-getter and assist man for this Blue Jays’ offense. Angelus leads an unit that has thrived under first-year offensive coordinator John Crawley, being a very balanced motion offense.
X-Factor: The Fourth Quarter
Through the season, Hopkins has garnered a reputation for following a similar script in many of its wins. That script? Explode in the fourth quarter. Just against Big Ten opponents, the Blue Jays have outscored their opponents 15-7. The Blue Jays know how to get it done in crunch time.
Player to Watch: Alex Mazzone, Defense
Mazzone is one of many guys whom you could put here. The Georgetown graduate transfer has been as expected since his arrival at Homewood over the summer. Making plays all over the defensive end, Mazzone has grabbed a team-high 65 ground balls, caused 16 turnovers, score a goal, and assisted on a score.
No. 3 Maryland (8-4, 3-2 Big Ten)
After a few superman like seasons, Maryland has come back down to Earth. It is for the first time since 2019 that the Terrapins have recorded a loss in league play or a loss in the regular season. However, this is still the same Maryland program program that has only missed Championship Weekend twice under John Tillman.
Star Player: Luke Wierman, Faceoff
Perhaps Wierman has been one of the more consistent pieces of this ever-growing team this season. He has gone 191-for-308 (62%) at the faceoff dot and sits second in the Big Ten and eighth nationally in faceoff win ercentage.
X-Factor: Dante Trader, SSDM
Between defensemen Ajax Zapitello and Brett Makar, as well as Brian Ruppel in cage, Maryland has plenty of playmakers on the defensive end. Trader is one of those as he headlines what has been a fantastic rope unit. The two-sport athlete has caused 10 turnovers, grabbed 18 ground balls, and tallied six points off five goals and one assist.
Player to Watch: Braden Erska, Attack
The freshman from the Peach State has grown and developed this season right along with the rest of this Maryland offense. Erska currently leads the Terrapins with 32 points off 17 goals and 15 assists. Erska has notched 15 of those points over the past month.
No. 4 Michigan (6-6, 2-3 Big Ten)
Michigan is amidst its best season in program history. The Wolverines beat Maryland and arch rival Ohio State to mark the first time in which the Wolverines have notched two league wins in a season. On top of that, even it its most of its losses, Michigan has been highly-competitive and seemingly just a wrong bounce away from a win.
Star Player: Michael Boehm, Attack
Boehm has been the leader of the Michigan offense this season, tallying 53 points off 32 goals and 21 assists. The junior is coming off a program-record, eight-goal outing versus Ohio State last week.
X-Factor: Justin Wietfeldt, Faceoff
Sharing duties with Nick Rowlett each of the last few seasons, Wietfeldt has proven to be an all-important aspect of the Wolverines squad. He has gone 103-for-158 (65.2%) thus far in 2023.
Player to Watch: Peter Thompson, Midfield
Starting each of the last seven games, Thompson has emerged as a key cog in this offense. He has recorded 12 points (7G/5A) through the past seven games and has notched 18 points (12G/6A) overall on the season.
No. 5 Ohio State (5-8, 1-4 Big Ten)
Maybe the most head-scratching team in college lacrosse. The Buckeyes came into the year with much fan fare but have not lived up to expectations, going 5-8 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play. While Ohio State did beat Rutgers and nearly beat Maryland, they have been blown out by Penn State, Johns Hopkins, and Michigan.
Star Player: Jack Myers, Attack
The leader of the Buckeyes’ offense, Myers has notched 39 points off 18 goals and 21 assists this spring.
X-Factor: Marcus Hudgins, Defense
A transfer from West Point, Hudgins has stepped right in and assumed a role as one of the top poles for this Buckeyes squad and given many opposing offensive weapons a real challenge. Hudgins had recorded 16 caused turnovers and 26 ground balls thus far.
Player to Watch: Dillon Magee, Midfield
Magee has started in 11 games including each of the last seven as a freshman and has proven to be a solid complementary piece to the Buckeyes top end performers. He has 18 points off 12 goals and six assists thus far.
No. 6 Rutgers (8-5, 1-4 Big Ten)
The Scarlet Knights made Championship Weekend last season and started this year off strong with a 7-1 record that featured wins over Princeton and Loyola, and a loss to Army. Since Big Ten play began, it’s been a different story in Piscataway as Rutgers’ only league win came in OT versus Michigan.
Star Player: Ross Scott, Attack
The leader of the Rutgers offense this season, Scott has tallied 38 points off 25 goals and 13 assists thus far.
X-Factor: Noah Daniels, SSDM
A grad transfer from Mount St. Mary’s, Daniels has been super fun to watch in this Rutgers system. He has scored eight goals, dished out three assists, grabbed 27 ground balls, and caused 11 turnovers thus far.
Player to Watch: Ethan Rall, LSM
Rall has been a key piece of this defense, causing 19 turnovers and grabbing 46 ground balls. He also has one assist to his name.
Maryland vs Rutgers: Maryland
Michigan vs Ohio State: Michigan
Johns Hopkins vs Maryland: Maryland
Penn State vs Michigan: Penn State
Penn State vs Maryland: Penn State