Weekend Watch: Truth About Travel

Versie Dortch

by Jac Coyne | MCLA.us

LA CROSSE, Wis. – This is the weekend you can really see it. You can grasp the lengths that teams will go to get quality games.

Just soak this in to give you a taste:

  • Boston College goes to SoCal
  • Northeastern goes to Arizona
  • Cal goes to Atlanta
  • St. John’s goes to Utah
  • Clemson goes to L.A.
  • Texas A&M goes to Colorado
  • Florida Atlantic goes to Missouri
  • Minnesota goes to NorCal
  • Oregon State goes to Utah
  • South Carolina goes to Cali
  • Temple goes to Texas

It’s kind of staggering when you think about it.


These programs are making a huge financial, academic and social sacrifice because they understand the power of travel when the selection committee is putting together its teams, as well as seeding them.

It’s true: travel matters.

Quality wins are paramount for those seven teams that don’t receive automatic qualifiers each year. That will always be what gets a program into the discussion.

But if it comes to a 50-50 coin-flip decision, travel gets looked at.

The same is true when it comes to seeding. If everything is equal, a team that goes on the road to face quality opposition will get a bounce.

Again, it’s not a primary criterion, but it can put a finger on the scale of a bubble team.

If you have serious designs on a national title, you’ve got to move.

Not every team can travel far and wide every year. Things aren’t getting any cheaper, so creating home-and-home agreements is the smart play. You’ll see those appear on a biennial basis.

Obviously, the geography of our great country lends certain locations a climate advantage, especially during the early months of the season. There was once a time when teams in the temperate regions could sit back and wait for the planes to arrive.

That’s no longer the case. Heck, we saw Chapman head to Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago. Berkeley to Atlanta for a quick weekend set? You’ve got to tip your cap.

And the committee will reward mobile programs if the wins can accompany the half-hour wait at the luggage carousel.

Not traveling this year? Maybe it wasn’t in the cards. But it’s never too early to lock in trip. 2024 isn’t that far away.

No. 1 Virginia Tech at No. 2 Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. – Friday
Not sure I need to hype this one much. Home field favors the Bugs, but the Hokies’ offense is running at a next-level pace for early March. I figure only a couple of goals will separate these two at the end.

No. 13 Utah Valley at Utah, 7 p.m. – Friday
The Utes offense ran into a buzzsaw up in Boise and Utah took a tumble out of the polls for their trouble. It’s a quick ticket back into the Top 25 if they can tame the Wolverines. Utah Valley is coming of productive trip to the Carolinas. If UVU keeps the train rolling, they can start stacking up some important non-conference victories to impress the committee.

No. 11 Montana State at No. 1 Montana, 7:30 p.m. – Friday
The Copper Cup is on the line as these Big Sky foes meeting in a spirited non-conference game. The Bobcats have won the last five meetings – they didn’t meet in 2020 and ’21 – so there will be plenty of incentive for the Grizzlies. That and staying atop the poll for a second week.

No. 12 North Dakota State vs. No. 17 Florida Atlantic, 10 a.m. – Saturday
Strictly going off of rankings, both of these squads are headed to the at-large pool. As such, these types of non-conference ranked games are hugely important when putting a resumé together. FAU stumbled against Wake Forest while NDSU lost a mildly surprising contest to Iowa State. Two contrasting styles highlight this game.

No. 16 Dayton at No. 7 Missouri State, 12 p.m. – Saturday
Both play their season openers on Friday – the Flyers against Drury, Bears versus NDSU – so they’ll be on the same footing for this matinee. Expectations have been high ever since MoState’s run to the quarterfinals last spring, but I’m curious to see what Dayton has on the roster. The Flyers have always been dangerous and no reason to think they won’t be again.

No. 22 St. John’s vs. No. 24 Northwest Nazarene, 12 p.m. – Saturday
New St. John’s skipper Adam Benney looks to pocket his first ranked victory in this game played at Utah State. Northwest Nazarene is at a slight disadvantage playing on Friday night against USU, but that is going happen. The winner here has a good shot of cracking the Top 20.

No. 9 Boston College at No. 7 UC Santa Barbara, 1 p.m. – Saturday
The Eagles are dining out over their win over No. 6 Florida and one-goal loss to No. 3 Florida State, and now they have had an extra three weeks to fine-tune their operation. Chapman and USC loom afterwards on the SoCal swing, but a quick start would be impressive.

UC Santa Barbara is still licking its wounds after taking the loss to Concordia last Tuesday. The CUI defense put the clamps on the Gaucho offense – something BC will try to mimic. UCSB needs to stop digging first-quarter holes, regardless of the Dominican outcome.

No. 15 Northeastern at No. 5 Arizona, 3 p.m. – Saturday
Another Beantown squad heads west with hopes of picking up some valuable tourney cred. The Huskies play three games in three days, featuring two ranked teams, so this is a serious business trip.

The Wildcats are still in the early stages of their season and have managed to spring to a Top 5 position almost entirely on the strength of the Cal win (which was impressive). Northeastern won’t be intimidated and traditionally plays well on the road.

No. 5 Kennesaw State at Georgia Southern, 3 p.m. – Saturday
The race for the SELC Division II North tournament bids starts with this contest in Statesboro. The Owls appear to be a considerable favorite, but the Eagles are no pushover.

No. 10 Brigham Young vs. Michigan State, 6 p.m. – Saturday
It’s been five years since Michigan State rolled to its first national championship in Salt Lake City. What does this year’s edition look like? We’ll get a really good idea against the Cougars.

BYU has had three weeks to stew over the Concordia wipeout, so the Cougs will likely be ornery (although they breezed past ASU on Thursday). With that said, this will be the third game in three days for Brigham Young while the Spartans will be fresh. Always a dangerous setup.

Simon Fraser at No. 24 Oregon, 1 p.m. – Sunday
Time to start up the PNCLL playoff race in earnest. With five teams legitimately in the race for four tournament spots, every game matters. There have been some classics in this rivalry and this one shouldn’t disappoint.

No. 19 Miami at No. 13 Florida Gulf Coast, 1 p.m. – Sunday
The SELC-II South is loaded this year, but only two of the three squads will make the four-team tournament in Jacksonville. The loser will be awfully jittery about being left out. Two quality goaltenders will be on display in Fort Myers.

– When Cal scheduled games against Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech in the offseason, they probably figured they were getting two top-five teams on the docket. The Bears’ trip is even more valuable that they’ll get Nos. 1 and 2.

The cross-country flight will certainly be grueling, the Bears do get the luxury of having the aforementioned top teams playing on Friday night. Virginia Tech, who plays Cal on Saturday, will certainly be coming off a physical and emotional contest. We’ll see if the Bears can profit from it.

– West Virginia at James Madison is one of those under-the-radar games that could have big implications concerning the ALC tournament chase…same is true for Arizona-USC. The Trojans will be behind the eight-ball in the SLC with a loss and Chapman/Concordia still on the schedule.

– PEARL Goalie of the Week and Warrior Player of the Week nominations are due by noon on Monday. Nominations from head coaches only…the February MCLA 101 Lacrosse Players of the Month were released…Reminder: scores are due on MCLA.us within an hour of the game completing and box scores due within 72 hours.

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