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Friday, April 29, 2011
Snubs, surprises and first-round matchups

By Kyle Harrison and Brett Hughes
Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: Each week, 2005 Tewaaraton winner, four-time Major League Lacrosse All-Star and current LXM pro player Kyle Harrison and former Virginia All-American, Major League Lacrosse All-Star and current LXM pro player Brett Hughes will use this space to debate college lacrosse's biggest storylines.

Nicky Galasso
Nicky Galasso and UNC will see a familiar foe in the first round.

1. What are your initial thoughts on the bracket?

Hughes: I actually love the brackets. I think Maryland-North Carolina is a great first-round game; I just wish those two teams didn't have to see one another again so soon. Other than that matchup, I think all the top-seeded teams will make it through the first round. I thought Harvard might find a way in, but it wasn't a huge oversight. I think the selection committee was right to seed Syracuse and Cornell 1-2, respectively.

Harrison: To say I love the brackets would be a bit of an overstatement, but I think overall the committee did a nice job putting the tournament together. It's tough to see a Maryland-UNC opening-round game, as both teams probably anticipated drawing a weaker opponent. The game I'm most excited about is Hofstra-Johns Hopkins. Those two teams know each other very well and have battled for the past few years with Hofstra giving the Blue Jays a lot of trouble. Can't wait to watch Saturday.

2. What are the most interesting first-round matchups?

Hughes: I mentioned above that Maryland-UNC is the game to watch, but Penn-Notre Dame will be fun to watch. Hofstra-Hopkins is another I'll pay close attention to; it features two coaches who can't get enough respect and who know one another front and back. I love this matchup. I believe Hopkins is a far better team, but I'm not putting anything past the boys on the Island.

Harrison: Agreed that Maryland-UNC is going to be an interesting matchup, as those teams have already played each other a few times this year. Don't want to spend the entire time talking about Hofstra-Hopkins, but that's definitely the most interesting first-round matchup. Coach Seth Tierney knows the Hopkins players, coaching staff and how to win at Homewood Field better than anyone else. Penn-Notre Dame could be interesting, but I think, in the end, Notre Dame's senior leadership is going to be too much for the Quakers.

3. Who has the hardest road to championship weekend? Easiest?

Hughes: Hardest, I'd say Notre Dame or Cornell. Cornell has a lot to lose and has to get through Virginia and probably Hopkins to get to the money round. Notre Dame is coming off some tough beats, is going to be traveling all over and has a bull's-eye on its back this season. I do not believe there is an easy way to the final four, but I'd say that while Syracuse has tough teams to play, the Orange match up well with everyone in the bracket. I'd like to see UNC-Cuse in the playoffs. Watching that Nicky Galasso-Billy Bitter attack is always fun and would face a tough test in Joel White and John Lade. I also think Joe Breschi can get his troops going if they can get by the Terps in Round 1.

Harrison: It's never easy to make it to championship Monday, but in my opinion, Hopkins has a tough road to get there. If the Jays beat Hofstra (which will be a tough game), they likely have to play Denver, a young team with great coaching. After Denver, they'd potentially face Cornell or Virginia, which would clearly be a tough game. I've got faith in my Hop boys, but it's going to be tough. I'm also excited to see what the Cuse senior class is going to put together for its last run at a title. Leaving Cuse with three rings would be pretty remarkable.

Brett Hughes is the co-founder and vice president of Lacrosse the Nations. You can check out the group's work here. Follow Brett on Twitter: . Follow Kyle on Twitter:

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