Men's Preview: Into the second round
Thursday's opening round has come and gone already in the NCAA tournament. But there's only a couple more days to wait before play resumes with the second round of games - this time with the seeded teams jumping into action.
Here's a complete preview of the second round. Rankings listed below reflect tournament seeds, and all times are eastern.
How they got here: The Spartans secured an at-large bid after a loss in the Big Ten tournament championship game against Indiana. The Cardinals missed a number of chances against a plucky Denver side in the first round, eventually topping them on PKs.
Form: MSU had a three game winning streak snapped against Indiana in the conference tournament. They've won four of their last six. It's been up and down for Louisville of late, with a 2-2-2 record in its last six games.
Players to know: With solid talent in different parts of the field, MSU has a stout back line, anchored by senior center back Kevin Cope. Midfielder Jay Chapman provides flair in the midfield, while Tim Kreutz has supplied most of the goals in the wake of the injury to Adam Montague. Louisville continues with exciting young attacking talent like Andrew Brody, Ricardo Velazco, and is backstopped by experienced defender Jimmy Ockford.
Stat of the game: Four - Spartans have conceded that many goals in the first half all season. Maintaining the trend of strong starts and a stingy defense is going to be necessary to defeat the Cardinals.
Prize: If the Hoyas hold serve, the winner here gets to play a third round matchup in Barry O's neighborhood against Georgetown.
How they got here: After a PK loss in the semifinals of the Big East tournament, the Hoyas snagged an at-large bid, making an eye at another College Cup run. The Monarchs blew out Drexel 5-1 on Thursday, and will be raring to go on Sunday.
Form: Despite bowing out in PKs in the Big East tourney, the Hoyas have dropped just one of thier last six games. ODU enters not only off its impressive win against Drexel, but also winners of six of the last eight.
Players to know: Senior forward Steve Neumann is chasing history in the postseason, in the range of finishing with 40 goals and 40 assists in his college career. There's a solid supporting cast around him, including midfielder Joey Dillon, forward Brandon Allen, freshman darling Joshua Yaro and solid goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. A lot of the good things that ODU does offensively boils down to the exploits of forward Tim Hopkinson, who has 14 goals and 4 assists on the year, along with Ivan Militar.
Stat of the game: Nine. The Hoyas have only conceded nine goals on the year, contrasting to ODU, which has let in 24. Can the Monarchs find the breakthrough via Hopkinson?
Prize: Hoyas get to stay on the Hilltop for another game if they win. ODU could get a trip to quaint Lansing, Michigan depending on how things shake out on the other side of the matchup.
How they got here: The Cavaliers put together a good enough 2013 campaign that a loss in the ACC tournament final against Maryland didn't hurt their at-large bid chances. St. John's topped Delaware, 2-1 in overtime after conceding a late equalizer.
Form: After rattling off three straight ties in the middle of October, UVA posted a solid 4-2-1 mark. It's four wins on the trot for the Red Storm, despite not qualifying for the Big East tournament.
Players to know: There's an exciting blend of talent in Charlottesville, as an attack led by Jordan Allen and Darius Madison is capable of big moments. Riggs Lennon has scored some big goals off the bench, while the UVA staff is impressed by the improving Nicko Corriveau. The Red Storm don't overpower anyone, and have only conceded 14 goals all season. Goalkeeper Rafael Diaz, defender Tim Parker and midfielder Jamie Thomas have all played significant roles, and will need to continue doing so on Sunday.
Stat of the game: 2-0. The two teams met all the way back on Sep. 2, which might as well have been last year, it seems so long ago.
Prize: Win and you get to stay home - that's the mantra of the Cavaliers in this one. The Red Storm are going to be itching for a second straight upset on the road, and getting it right during their second visit to Klockner in 2013.
How they got here: Despite a lackluster end to the regular season, the Bears were in the running for the top seed, picking up an at-large bid in what was a good season for the Pac-12. Bradley muscled its way past Northwestern by a 3-2 score in overtime in the first round.
Players to know: Center back Christian Dean is the subject of MLS rumors, but the team's best player is his defensive partner Steve Birnbaum. An ankle injury has sidelined him of late, triggering the team's slide. If he's healthy, it's a huge boost for the Bears. Along with outstanding netminder Brian Billings, the Braves boast the awesomely-named forward Wojciech Wojcik, who has 13 helpers on the year.
Stat of the game: The Braves will have high hopes for an upset head, led by a senior class of seven players, including Billings and Wojcik.
Prize: A team from the Carolinas is on deck, no matter the result. Cal will look to remain close to home by holding off the Braves.
How they got here: Wake Forest played good soccer all year, but were tripped up in the ACC tournament quarterfinals agianst Virginia. They had done enough to warrant an at-large bid and a seed, however. The Midshipmen continued their extraordinary 2013 campaign, toppling VCU on the road in the first round by a 3-0 score on Thursday.
Form: Winners of just three of its last six games, Wake is capable of putting together a run but needs to establish consistency starting on Sunday. Navy is unquestionably the hottest team in the country, winners of 15 straight.
Players to know: The Demon Deacons are led by a blend of youth and experience. A strong freshmen contingent played heavy minutes this year, including Ian Harkes and Jacori Hayes. They have plenty of older heads as well, including midfielder Jared Watts, forward Sean Okoli and center back Jalen Robinson. Center backs Joseph Greenspan and Derek Vogel will look to shut things down in front of the Navy goal.
Stat of the game: When the two sides take the field in Winston-Salem, it will be 81 days since Navy last lost a game.
Prize: The top seed in the region, Notre Dame could be there to meet the winner. And nobody likes going to South Bend.
How they got here: One of the surprises of the 2013 season, the Retrievers were America East regular season and conference champions. The Huskies held on for a 2-1 win in the first round of the tournament against Qunnipiac.
Form: The Retrievers are unbeaten in their last nine games, which makes sense considering they've lost just one game all season. They've won four games in a row as well. No slouches themselves, the Huskies made it 15 unbeaten games in a row with the win against QU.
Players to know: As he's been all season, UMBC Pete Caringi is key for the hosts. He leads the team with 12 goals on the year, and is supported in the final third by Kadeem Dacres and Geaton Caltabiano. The Retriever attack will search for a way past college soccer's best goalkeeper, Andre Blake, while looking to keep one of the best forwards at bay in Cyle Larin. Look for this one to be a low-scoring affair.
Stat of the game: At No. 21, UConn's RPI represents the highest of any team UMBC has faced on the season. Now is the chance for the Retrievers to erase any doubts about their status and prove they deserved a higher tournament seed.
How they got here: The ever-present Terps were ACC regular season and tournament champions, earning the automatic bid that came with the tourney title. Providence needed the drama of penalty kicks, but were able to get by Penn in the first round after a 1-1 draw.
Form: Maryland is starting to peak at the right time, in the middle of a seven game winning streak. In its last six games, Providence is a respectable 3-1-2, making it all the way to the Big East final.
Players to know: Reigning Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins leads the Maryland's attack and dominates the headlines. But the best player for the Terps this season has been midfielder Dan Metzger, who has shined playing in front of the back four. On the other side, goalkeeper Keasel Broome is having a tremendous postseason, having notched a second PK win in his last three games.
Stat of the game: After conceding 10 goals in its first four games of the season, Maryland has steadied the ship at the right time, conceding just twice in its last seven. That includes three shutouts in the ACC tournament.
Prize: If they can win, Terps get the visit of either UC Irvine or another ACC rival in UNC. The Friars, who have put together a quality campaign, can only hope to keep it going.
How they got here: The Big West tournament champs, Irvine's another program peaking at the right time. They'll face the 2011 national champs, which knocked off South Florida 1-0 on Thursday in the first round.
Form: Winners of seven straight, the Anteaters are quietly one of the nation's toughest outs at the moment. North Carolina has posted a solid 4-2 mark in its last six games.
Players to know: Senior forward Enrique Cardenas has made a lot of good things happen this season, and he tops the team in goals and assists, with 8 and 6 respectively. The Tar Heels, which have one of the stingiest defenses in the nation, are buoyed by the center back partnership of Jonathan Campbell and Boyd Okwuonu.
Stat of the game: Seven of UNC's wins this season have been by a 1-0 score.
Prize: Assuming the Terps defend Ludwig Field in the second round, a post-Thanksgiving feast of crab cakes could be in the winner's future.
How they got here: Marquette won the Big East Championship and earned the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. Akron defeated Indiana 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Form: Marquette is 3-2 in its last five games and 4-1 in its last five home games. Akron is undefeated in its last 11 games. The Zips have won their last six road games.
Players to know: Marquette forward Adam Lysak was the unlikely hero for the Big East champions next week. Can he be the Big Man on Campus for a second week running? The Akron defense looked suspect against Indiana, so there could be another chance for Lysak and C. Nortey to flourish.
Stat of the game: Marquette has never won an NCAA Tournament game. The Big East program has only appeared in the Big Dance twice before and holds a 0-2 record.
Prize: A convenient excuse not to over-eat on Thanksgiving because the winner will return to the field on Dec. 1 to face the winner of St. John’s/Virginia.
Prediction: Marquette 1-1 Akron (Marquette wins 4-3 in PKs)
How they got here: Notre Dame earned an at-large bid and the No. 3 seed with a share of the ACC regular season title. Wisconsin defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Form: Notre Dame is undefeated in its last five games, but lost in a PK shootout in the ACC Tournament against Virginia. The Irish are 2-2-1 in their last five games at home. Wisconsin is 4-1 in its last five games. The Badgers are 1-1-3 in their last five road games.
Players to know: Harrison Shipp is the creative force of the Irish attack, as he pulls the strings from an attacking midfield role. If the Badgers can contain Shipp, the Big Ten side will have a real shot at pulling off the upset on the road.
Stat of the game: Under head coach Bobby Clark, Notre Dame has never advanced to College Cup.
Prize: The winner of this game faces the victor of Navy/Wake Forest in the next round.
Prediction: Notre Dame 2-1 Wisconsin
How they got here: New Mexico earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament after winning the C-USA regular season crown. George Mason defeated William & Mary in a penalty kick shootout in the first round.
Form: New Mexico is 3-2 in its last five games. The Lobos are 4-0-1 in their last five home games. George Mason is undefeated in its last 13 games. The Patriots are 3-0-2 in their last five road games.
Players to know: Michael Calderon is the brains behind the Lobos attack, and he will be the one to get New Mexico back on track after losing to Tulsa 3-0 in the Lobos last outing. Calderon is a senior who will be aiming to impress some scouts with his play during the NCAA Tournament.
Stat of the game: For New Mexico, the No. 7 seed is the second highest in program history. In 2005, the Lobos were the No. 2 seed and advanced to the National Championship before losing to Maryland.
Prize: A matchup with the winner of UCSB/Penn State in the third round.
Prediction: New Mexico 2-1 George Mason
How they got here: Charlotte won the Conference USA Championship and earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Coastal Carolina defeated East Tennessee State 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Form: Charlotte brings an eight-game winning streak into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 49ers also bring a six-game home winning streak into the match. Coastal Carolina brings a six-game winning streak into the second round. The Chanticleers are 3-2 in their last five road games.
Players to know: Sophomore Kyle Parker leads the way for Charlotte with 11 goals on the season. Parker only scored two last season, so his improvement from year-over-year has been a pleasant surprise for the 49ers. Parker will be counted on to make the most of his chances, as Coastal Carolina is likely to dominate the possession in the game.
Stat of the game: These two teams met earlier this season when Charlotte outlasted Coastal Carolina in a 2-1 affair. It was the only home loss of the season for Coastal Carolina.
Prize: The winner takes on the victor from Cal/Bradley in the next round.
Prediction: Charlotte 2-1 Coastal Carolina
How they got here: Washington won the Pac-12 and earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Seattle slayed the wizard known as Elmar Bolowich and defeated Creighton 2-1 in the first round.
Form: Washington is 4-1 in its last five games. The Huskies are 4-0-1 in their last five home games. Seattle is unbeaten in its last 12 games. The Red Hawks are 4-0-1 in their last five road games.
Players to know: Michael Harris leads Washington in assists because he has the most dangerous weapon in college soccer, the flip throw. Harris also anchors a defense that has only let in one goal in its last three games. However, Seattle has been hot recently and forward Miguel Gonzalez scored twice against a solid Creighton defense.
Stat of the game: These two teams also met earlier this year when Washington defeated Seattle 2-0. The Red Hawks have not lost since that game.
Prediction: Washington 3-2 Seattle
How they got here: UCSB was awarded an at-large bid after winning the Big West North Division in the regular season with an undefeated record. Penn State defeated St. Francis Brooklyn 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Form: UCSB is 1-1-3 in its last five games. The Gauchos are 3-1-1 in their last five home games. Penn State is 2-2-1 in its last five games. The Nittany Lions are 3-2 in their last five road games.
Players to know: With a depleted bench, the Gauchos will be relying on the senior leadership of Daniel Welsh at center back to help navigate this second round game against Penn State. Through injuries and suspensions, UCSB will be trotting out an inexperienced roster on Sunday and it will be up to Welsh, Fifi Baiden, Goffin Boyoko, and the other seniors to push the squad into the next round.
Stat of the game: UCSB is not the only team depending on freshmen in this game. Penn State freshman forward Connor Maloney leads the team in assists with seven this season.
Prize: The satisfaction of having TDS write about you again in the next round, as the winner takes on the winner of New Mexico/George Mason.
Prediction: UCSB 2-1 Penn State
How they got here: Cal State Northridge earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after finishing second in the Big West South Division and as finalist in the Big West Tournament. Stanford defeated Loyola Marymount in penalty kicks in the first round.
Form: Cal State Northridge is 3-2 in its last five games. The Matadors are also 3-2 in their last five home games. Stanford is 2-1-2 in its last five games. Stanford is 1-3-1 in its last five road games.
Players to know: Cal State Northridge winger Edwin Rivas is the one to watch for the opposition. Rivas is the most dangerous player on the wings for the Matadors, and is a tricky player to defend with his cleverness on the ball.
Stat of the game: Sagi Lev-Ari is tied for the lead in total goals this season with 16 in 22 games.
Prize: The winner of this clash moves on to face the winner of Seattle/Washington.
Prediction: Cal State Northridge 3-2 Stanford
How they got here: UCLA was awarded an at-large bid and the No. 1 overall seed after finishing second in the Pac-12. Elon defeated Clemson in a penalty kick shootout in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Form: UCLA is undefeated in its last seven games. The Bruins are 3-1-1 in their last five home games. Elon is undefeated in its last seven games. The Phoenix is 2-3 in its last five road games.
Players to know: Leo Stolz was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year earlier this week and will likely be the key player on the Elon scouting report. Stolz is the maestro of the UCLA attack and really creates almost everything for the Bruins. He is nearly impossible to stop for 90 minutes though, so Elon will need to get a couple on the board to have a shot.
Stat of the game: UCLA has advanced to the Quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons. The Bruins second round loss to San Diego as the lone blimp on that streak.
Prize: The victor will face the winner of UMBC/Connecticut in the next round.
Prediction: UCLA 3-1 Elon
Photo credit: guhoyas.com; Mark Goldman, theACC.com
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