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NCAA Tournament: A Look Ahead to the Round of 16

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We're getting down to the nitty gritty of the postseason as the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament kicks off at campus sites around the country on Sunday.

With students still returning from Thanksgiving break, don't expect crowd support to be quite as raucous as it has been during the season. Top-seeded North Carolina will hope the diminished crowds will not hamper a run into a fourth-consecutive Elite Eight. The Tar Heels have not lost at home this season and ride a 24-game unbeaten run at Fertzer Field into a clash with No. 16 Indiana. The Hoosiers are the only team from the Big 10 left in the tournament and got their tournament off to a flying start with a 3-0 win over Old Dominion. 

Indiana will rely heavily on the defensive pairing of Tommy Meyer and Chris Estridge to keep the potent attacking players of North Carolina at bay. Billy Schuler has made a claim as one of the top striking prospects in the college ranks while midfielder Enzo Martinez is the creative force out of midfield. Also be on the lookout for defender Matt Hedges for North Carolina to shut down Indiana going forward. The Heels were not nearly as convincing in their opener with a 3-2 victory over Coastal Carolina so it will be interesting to see how they react to their early struggles. The two teams meet in Chapel Hill at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Here is a look ahead to the rest of the matchups in the round of 16.

St. Mary's at Brown (Sunday, 5 p.m.)

Neither team was expected to do much in this year's NCAA tournament but upsets of Big East finalists St. John's and No. 8 UC-Irvine guarantees that one of these unseeded teams will be in the quarterfinals. St. Mary's has little in the way of offense, scoring barely one goal per game but the Gaels make up for it with a strong back line. St. Mary's has had 10 shutouts so far this season on their way to a 0.86 goals against average. Brown are slightly better offensively with TJ Popolizo leading the way with eight goals but don't expect a shootout in Providence. 

No. 12 Louisville at No. 5 Maryland (Sunday, 5 p.m.)

Maryland is now the de facto seed in their quarter of the bracket following Boston College's early exit but if the Terrapins are to advance to the College Cup something has to be done about a leaky defense. A 4-0 thrashing of West Virginia will provide some confidence but Colin Rolfe and his 23 points will provide a much stiffer test. The Cardinals stumbled defensively in their NCAA opener, allowing two goals against Bradley. Senior striker Casey Townsend will look to take advantage of any mistakes.

Rutgers at No. 13 UCLA (Sunday, 8 p.m.)

UCLA were justified in feeling slightly disrespected after being dropped to a 13 seed when the brackets were released. However, the road to the College Cup has gotten much smoother with a matchup against Rutgers instead of No. 4 Boston College. Junior Chandler Hoffman and sophomore Kelyn Rowe form one of the most dangerous offensive pairs in the country and will put Rutgers back line under enormous pressure. The Scarlet Knights will be forced to shake off the wear and tear of a cross-country trip and prove that the shock against Boston College wasn't a fluke.

No. 14 James Madison at No. 3 UConn (Sunday, 1 p.m.)

James Madison was on the more surprising teams to snatch a seed in this year's tournament but were comfortable in a second-round victory over Wake Forest. Nine players have scored for James Madison, giving them a varied attacking threat. UConn on the other hand focuses more on Mamadou Diouf but the Senegalese striker is more than capable of winning a game all by himself. UConn has outscored their opponents 36-9 this season so James Madison will have a hard time breaking through.

Akron at Charlotte (Sunday, 7 p.m.)

It will be interesting to see if Akron can continue their road charge deep into the tournament. On paper, Charlotte does not seem like a difficult match-up but victories over Virginia, Coastal Carolina and UAB show that the 49ers are not to be trifled with. Akron has been wildly inconsistent this season but be on the lookout for Darren Mattocks, who has the second-most goals in the country. Luke Holmes and Scott Caldwell are contributing goals as well but Akron is full of young players without experience on this sort of stage. The question remains, will they be able to perform in the clutch?

No. 10 New Mexico at No. 7 South Florida (Sunday, 6 p.m.)

New Mexico is the only unbeaten team in the country but the Lobos often took criticism for a soft schedule and were subjected to a low seed in the tournament. Now is the opportunity to prove the critics wrong with a difficult trip to South Florida. New Mexico is averaging 2.24 goals per game while allowing around half a goal. They needed overtime to dispatch Duke but momentum is certainly on their side. Dom Dywer will put that impressive goals against total to the test as he leads the Bulls with 16 goals on the season. 

No. 15 UCSB at No. 2 Crieghton (Sunday, 2 p.m.)

The Creighton Blue Jays are perfect at home and will hope to keep it that way against UCSB. Ethan Finlay leads Creighton up front but a defense that has conceded only once at home is undoubtedly the strength of Elmar Bolowich's side. UCSB has kept a clean sheet only once on the road this season so it seems like they'll need to score two goals away from home and that is certainly a tall order.


What do you think of this weekend's games? Do you see any big upsets? What's your pick for game of the week?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. They dominated Duke, too. Duke scored against the run of play and basically just sunk back into a shell the rest of the game.

    The Lobos could easily have scored 3 or 4 goals in the game, but some good saves by the Duke goalkeeper and bad luck didn’t let that happen.

  2. Akron game should have been at Akron. I hope they go to Charlotte with a huge chip on their shoulder. NCAA skrewed them for second straight game.


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