College Lacrosse Odds & Picks: Best Bets for NCAA Tournament Opening Round
COLLEGE PARK, MD – APRIL 16: Brett Makar #43 of the Maryland in position during a college lacrosse game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on April 16, 2022 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse tournament is here, and we have four games spread across this fine Saturday to kick off the event.
I’m targeting two games in particular and have two bets on totals to start the tournament.
If you’re an avid bettor who’s new to lacrosse or a lacrosse fan who’s new to betting, check outmy guide on how to bet on lacrosse for some tips to use when placing a lacrosse bet.
Virginia (-7.5) vs. Richmond
|Time||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET|
Odds via FanDuel
We start the tournament with a matchup between second-ranked Virginia and Richmond. The Wahoos are between 7.5- and 8-point favorites against the Spiders, and the total is between 27.5 and 28.5 depending on the sportsbook.
Unlike most of the other first-round matchups, we actually have a previous meeting between Virginia and Richmond this season to draw from.
When these two teams met earlier in the year, Virginia destroyed Richmond by a final score of 25-8. While I don’t think this game will be as lopsided, I still expect plenty of goals to be scored Saturday afternoon.
The total is 28.5 at most sportsbooks, but FanDuel is currently offering 27.5. While it may be unreasonable to expect the Wahoos to deliver another 25-point game, this offense is way too efficient and plays way too fast to not trust it in this spot.
Virginia is in the top 20 in pace and is the most efficient team in the country, according to Lacrosse Reference. The Cavs score on 37.4% of their possessions and will have a notable advantage at the face-off, which should allow them to gain a possession advantage.
Last time these teams played, face-off specialist Petey LaSalla went 19-for-26 from the stripe and UVA scored on a whopping 48.1% of its possessions.
Additionally, 10 of the Cavaliers’ 14 games this season have gone over 27.5.
Even if Virginia doesn’t put up huge numbers in this matchup, I like the total to go over 27.5 based on Richmond’s offense, as well.
The Spiders rank 20th in offensive efficiency themselves, scoring on 30.7% of their possessions. They own a very low turnover rate, meaning they should be able to make the most of their opportunities against a Cavaliers defense that ranks 48th in the country.
Bet this total to go over 27.5 (-110 on FanDuel).
Pick: Over 27.5
Maryland (-3.5) vs. Army
|Time||Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
Odds via Caesars
The Saturday slate wraps with a matchup between Maryland and Army. Maryland enters as 3.5-point favorites following its blowout loss to Michigan in the Big Ten title game.
The total is currently as high as 23.5 at Caesars.
I think Army will be able to cover the 3.5-point spread and could even win this game outright, but I’m wary of completely fading a Maryland team that has shown a tendency to bounce back following big losses.
Instead, I’m going to trust the best defense in the tournament and the seasoned defensive corps of the Terps to keep this total low.
Army boasts the second-best defense in the nation and is the best defense currently in the NCAA tournament. It’s allowed an average of just 8.67 goals per game and ranks third in defensive efficiency, allowing goals on just 22.8% of possessions, according to Lacrosse Reference.
The Knights will face a Maryland offense that has struggled lately and also plays at the 11th-slowest pace in the country.
That being said, Maryland has faced far tougher competition and managed to weather the storm on defense, despite losing starting goaltender Logan McNaney at the start of the season and top cover defender Ajax Zappitello recently.
Despite these losses, the Terps’ replacements have played fine in relief, with freshman goalie Brian Ruppel stepping up in McNaney’s absence.
Maryland defender John Geppert also seems to be getting back to full strength after dealing with injuries.
The Terps also have the luxury of facing an Army offense that ranks just 36th in offensive efficiency — a decent drop in comparison to the offenses the Terps have faced (Penn State, Johns Hopkins and Michigan).
Ultimately, I’d be surprised if this game sees both teams score double digits, and I think the fairly even face-off matchup will force both teams to value their possessions and slow the pace.
I trust both defenses to keep the scoring low, so I recommend betting under 23.5 (-110 on Caesars).
Pick: Under 23.5
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