The men’s Division I college season is wasting no time in serving up sensational games on the first day of action.
Friday serves up some Top 10 clashes, not to mention several compelling games as teams get into the mix with some tough matches from the first day of play.
Below are five matches to track on Friday (all times listed EST).
One of the last fall’s College Cup sides welcomes Butler to town in just one of several compelling matchups of note. The Zips brought back a handful of pieces – goalkeeper Ben Lundt, center back Daniel Strachan, forward David Egbo – but lost so much that even a loss or draw here is no reason for concern. Butler, which has sights set on another Big East crown. Brandon Guhl is going to be a handful up front, while Jared Timmer and Joe Moulden bring back stability and experience.
Prediction: Akron 1-1 Butler
Two sides that will fancy a run to the College Cup meet in Winston Salem. IU has holes to fill up front and in the back, with Mason Toye and Grant Lillard departing. But Andrew Gutman, Justin Rennicks and Griff Dorsey are sure to make life difficult for the Wake Forest back line. Sam Raben is one of the returning center backs that will look to hold things down. This matchup presents an interesting test for a Wake Forest attack that is rebuilding after the departure of Jon Bakero; there are certainly a wealth of options, from Landen Haig, Kyle Holcomb, Justin McMaster, Omir Fernandez or Aristotle Zarris. So even if things aren’t as dangerous going forward in this matchup, Wake Forest should be fine going forward.
Prediction: Wake Forest 2-1 Indiana
On paper, this UCLA team is one of the most talented in recent memory, especially compelling since the Bruins missed the tournament last season. Of course, it must come together quickly, leaving this game a big test of where the team is. Transfer Mohammed Kamara is the one to watch for the Bruins, as he faces high expectations coming over from Tyler Junior College. UCLA has plenty of returning players: Eric Iloski, Erik Holt, Anderson Asiedu, Santiago Herrera that should mesh well with newcomers like Justin Garces, Matthew Hundley Coastal, while a plane ride across the country, bring in 13 first-year players and need defender Kervin Fadel to come up big in the opener.
Prediction: UCLA 2-0 Coastal Carolina
A clash between perennial powers features an ACC side with title aspirations and a Big East program looking to return to postseason play. Clemson is well-stocked despite losing significant offense from last season; Robbie Robinson and Kimarni Smith are poised to step up and deliver for the Tigers. They’ll thrive in front of a spine that includes defensive standouts like Tanner Dieterich and Patrick Bunk-Andersen. On the other side, Creighton is a less known commodity at this point in the season. They overhauled their roster with several transfers and a total of 16 newcomers. That includes Tyler Junior College pickup Yudai Tashiro, but they need big seasons from the likes of seniors Sven Koenig, Anthony Macchione, Mitch LaGro and Joel Rydstrand.
Prediction: Clemson 1-0 Creighton
After a relatively poor season by its own lofty standards, Maryland faces a difficult road trip to kick off the season. Donovan Pines returns to lead the team defensively, and his presence will be key against a Washington attack that will look to fly forward through Blake Bodily and Kyle Coffee. This might be a low-scoring opener, as the teams feel each other out and look to capitalize from set piece opportunities as the offensive cohesion comes together.
Prediction: Maryland 0-0 Washington