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Wayne Staats | | May 12, 2021

5 things to know before the first round of the 2021 men's lacrosse tournament

2021 NCAA DI men's lacrosse championship selection show

The 2021 NCAA DI men's lacrosse tournament gets underway with eight first-round games spread out over Saturday and Sunday. After a long wait and no 2020 tournament because of COVID-19, a new champion will be crowned on Memorial Day yet again.

In the first round, we'll see if Maryland can stay perfect, a highly anticipated Georgetown versus Syracuse meeting and Denver facing Loyola (Maryland), among other matchups.

Here's what we're looking at this weekend.

1. North Carolina's double-dipping — again?

The top of the men's and women's brackets will look similar. North Carolina is the No. 1 seed in both tournaments, with the teams having a combined 29-2 record thanks to the women's team and its undefeated record.

There's a lot of lacrosse to play, but UNC could pull off a repeat of 2016, when the men's and women's teams swept the DI national titles.

UNC's men's team is 11-2, losing consecutive games to Duke and Virginia in early April before closing strong with wins against Syracuse, Notre Dame and Duke. Seven of the Tar Heels' wins came against tournament teams (that includes two against High Point), with the ACC picking up four of the top six seeds. UNC is first in the country with 17.08 goals per game.

STAY UP TO DATE: Follow along with the interactive bracket

2. Can Maryland finish undefeated?

A team hasn't completed an unbeaten season since 2006, when Virginia went 17-0 and topped UMass for the title. That's the longest drought without an undefeated team since the first tournament in 1971. The Terrapins are 12-0 and just rallied to beat Johns Hopkins to win the Big Ten crown. Maryland trailed 9-6 in the third before scoring the final seven goals.

The Terrapins are the last undefeated team in the country and picked up the No. 3 seed — the Big Ten played a conference-only schedule this season.

3. Jared Bernhardt watch

Speaking of Maryland, star Jared Bernhardt leads the nation with 4.42 goals per game, good for 53 total. In the first round against Vermont, Bernhardt and older brother Jesse (Maryland's assistant/defensive coordinator) will be competing against older brother Jake, a Vermont assistant.

Here's how Bernhardt stacks up with other top goal scorers in the field:

  1. Jared Bernhardt, Maryland — 4.42 goals per game (top overall in DI)
  2. Jake Carraway, Georgetown — 3.54 per game
  3. Adam Charalambides, Rutgers — 3.36 per game
  4. Chris Gray, North Carolina — 3.23 per game
  5. Daniel Maltz, Maryland — 3.00 per game

Bernhardt is Maryland's all-time record holder in points and goals.

4. Welcome to the party, Vermont

The Catamounts are in the tournament for the first time in program history. UVM fell short in the America East final in 2016, 2018 and 2019 but Vermont beat Albany for the third time this season to secure the automatic bid. The Catamounts have also won the last five against the Great Danes after previously being only 4-21 all-time against Albany.

Tommy Burke's 229 face-offs won lead the country. Here's how he rates in winning percentage nationally this year (including all DI teams):

  1. Mike Sisselberger, Lehigh — .795
  2. Demitri George, Quinnipiac — .742
  3. Tommy Burke, Vermont — .720
  4. Matt Soutar, Monmouth — .714
  5. Zach Cole, Saint Joseph's — .683

5. Adding to the champ list

Eleven programs have won a national title, with Yale in 2018 the most recent first-time champion. Of the 11 programs, seven are in the tournament field. Three of the eight seeded teams are trying to win title No. 1: No. 5 Georgetown, Notre Dame, seeded sixth, and Lehigh, the eighth seed.

Virginia won the most recent title, defeating Yale in the 2019 final for the Cavaliers' first national championship since 2011.

The Cavaliers' run for two in a row starts with a first round game against Bryant. The Bulldogs are here despite three COVID pauses and being without star Marc O'Rourke most of the season. O'Rourke has 20 goals in four games this season, helping Bryant beat Saint Joseph's for the NEC title.

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