Entering the final weekend of conference play, the Big Ten regular season men’s lacrosse title is still up for grabs. Three programs have a chance to win the regular season title, with Maryland among them.
With a loss to No. 7 Ohio State Saturday, the Terps moved into a three-way tie with the Buckeyes and Johns Hopkins, all of whom sit at 3-1 in conference play. Penn State’s win over Rutgers this Sunday moved them to 2-2 in the Big Ten, giving them a potential tiebreaker over the Scarlet Knights and ultimately a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.
But the loss to the Buckeyes complicates matters. Had Maryland beaten them in Columbus, a win over Johns Hopkins would have automatically given the Terps the No. 1 seed. Now, there are a few different scenarios that can play out this weekend.
Here are the games this weekend:
No. 8 Johns Hopkins at No. 5 Maryland, April 29th at 7 p.m.
No. 4 Ohio State at No. 13 Rutgers, April 29th at noon
No. 9 Penn State at Michigan, April 30th at 1 p.m.
While all the games are important in some way, the Penn State-Michigan game won’t drastically change things. The Wolverines are winless in the Big Ten, and have no chance to make the four-team tournament. Even if Michigan drops Penn State to 2-3 in conference play, the Nittany Lions still hold the tiebreaker over Rutgers if the Scarlet Knights are able to beat Ohio State.
Luckily for head coach John Tillman, the Terps can’t drop down to a No. 4 seed. The worst Maryland can do is go 3-2 in conference play, which is the best Penn State can finish at. And thanks to a victory over the then-No. 1 Nittany Lions on April 8, the Terps hold the tiebreaker.
Here’s how Maryland can get:
A No. 1 Seed
Maryland beats Johns Hopkins and Rutgers beats Ohio State
This would put the Terps as the only team in the Big Ten with a 4-1 record, giving them the No. 1 seed in the tournament. But the Terps don’t control their own destiny, as Rutgers needs to upset Ohio State, or else the Buckeyes hold the tiebreaker.
If Penn State beats Michigan, there’s a three-way tie for second place in the conference between Ohio State, Penn State and Hopkins. Since all three programs are 1-1 against each other, there’s bound to be some crazy tie-breaking action.
Should the Nittany Lions lose Sunday, they’d fall to 2-3 in Big Ten Play, earning a semifinal matchup with the Terps. A Maryland win would set the Terps up to play the winner of No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Johns Hopkins.
A No. 2 Seed
Maryland beats Johns Hopkins and Ohio State beats Rutgers
Both Maryland and Ohio State would sit at 4-1, and the Buckeyes have the tiebreaker over the Terps.
Johns Hopkins beat Penn State in the regular season, so even both teams finished at 3-2 in the Big Ten, the Terps would see the Blue Jays again in the first round of the tournament.
A No. 3 Seed
Maryland loses to Johns Hopkins
If the Terps drop Saturday’s contest, they’ll fall behind both Hopkins and Ohio State, regardless of the Buckeyes’ result. The Ohio State-Rutgers game will affect Maryland’s semifinal opponent, though.
If the Buckeyes beat Rutgers, they and Hopkins would both be at 4-1 in conference play, with Ohio State getting the top seed on the head-to-head tiebreaker. This scenario still results in a Maryland-Hopkins rematch, just with the seeds flipped. If Rutgers wins, then the Terps will face Ohio State in the semis.
A loss Saturday would drop Maryland to 3-2 in the Big Ten with the tiebreaker over Penn State, even if the Nittany Lions beat Michigan.
Okay, that’s a lot to remember. The most important thing to keep in mind is that Maryland needs to beat Johns Hopkins, and the Terps need Rutgers’ help.