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February 11, 2010

MCLA Picks: Schooling Schooler

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Nick Schooler had a lot of success with UC Santa Barbara, winning a pair of national titles. Unfortunately for Nick, he'll find the pick 'em industry to be a whole lot more difficult than playing Gaucho lacrosse.

I've been covering the MCLA for a couple of years now, so it was time to put my unmatched lacrosse knowledge to the test. Instead of picking against thin air as I've done in the past, this year I'll be competing against Nick Schooler for bragging rights.

A former All-American for UC Santa Barbara, Schooler won national championships in 2004 and 2005 with the Gauchos. While his current day job is pursuing a Master's degree in Marine Science with a focus on coastal ecology at UCSB (hence the crab photo), he keeps a keen eye on events in the MCLA. Born and bred in Berkeley, Calif., Schooler is a bit of a know-it-all, so he'll have that dogged determination to continue even when he's out of the running and I'm flirting with a perfect 55-0 record.

Nick and I will be picking five games every weekend. There will be three baseline games - the biggest contests of the weekend - and then we'll each add one game we find especially compelling that was not included in the top three. We'll give our thoughts on the contests each week and keep a running tab of the score.

Onto the games...

The Picks - Weekend of Feb. 13

No. 2 Brigham Young at No. 3 Chapman, 7 p.m. PT - Saturday
COYNE: It was two years ago that Chapman officially put itself on the map when it defeated defending champion BYU in Orange County. It only makes sense that the Cougars commence their '10 title quest by downing the Panthers. BYU 14, Chapman 10. (And yes, I know BYU officially starts on Thursday against SDSU).

SCHOOLER: The first nationally televised game of the year on FOX College Sports! It's like opening a birthday present when you watch BYU's first game. It's never clear who will be playing for BYU at the start of the season, and this will be the first big test for BYU's new head coach Matt Schneck.

But sandwiching Chapman between San Diego State on Thursday and UC Santa Barbara on Monday will be too much for the Cougars. Chapman is just too strong on their home turf in the OC. Especially after the romping that they laid down on Charlie Weis [Schooler's nickname for San Diego head coach and former UCSB-er Mike DeWan] and USD last weekend. Seven points from Maryland transfer Madison Fiore in his first game! Watch out BYU, Chapman will win this game easily.

COYNE: Just a reminder that this game will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET) on Fox College Sports channel. Check it out.

No. 16 Oregon vs. California, 2 p.m. PT - Saturday (at Washington)
COYNE: It's not that I don't think Oregon is a good team, but despite earning a berth in Denver last year I wasn't overly impressed with the Ducks (getting trounced in the first round didn't help). Granted, they have a ‘new' coach, however I'm going to need more convincing before I can pick them with any confidence. I'll take Schooler's hometown team, Cal, 11-9.

SCHOOLER: An epic Pac 10 match-up. Cal is coming off their first victory over UCSB since I was a high schooler rooting for the Bears a decade ago. Unfortunately for the Ducks, the second coming of Coach Kerwin will not be enough to boost Oregon past Berkeley. The Bears will come out with an early lead and hold on to it for the duration of the game.

No. 14 Cal Poly at No. 11 UC Santa Barbara, 2 p.m. PT - Saturday
COYNE: If you go back into the MCLA annals, Cal Poly's biggest tormentor has been UCSB. Even last year, when the Mustangs were having a banner season, winning the WCLL, and the Gauchos finished with a .500 record, the Santa Barbarians still managed to knock off CP, 6-3 on the road. I think the trend breaks. Cal Poly 9, UCSB 7.

SCHOOLER: The battle of the Central Coast. I'm going to go out on a limb here and pick the Gauchos. Cal Poly is looking to avenge a loss from last season in which the Gauchos held the Mustangs to three goals, their lowest output of the season. With the loss of UCSB's top two defenders from last year, look for an up and coming rookie class to lead UCSB to victory.

Coyne's Game Pick
Arizona at Texas A&M, 7 p.m. MT - Saturday
COYNE: The conclusion of the 2009 season saw several of the coaches responsible for the ascendancy of the MCLA step down in Jason Lamb, Flip Naumburg and Gary Podesta. In College Station this weekend, there will be a couple of card-carrying members of the Old Guard roaming the sidelines. Tony Scazzero, the head coach at Texas A&M and current MCLA president, and the newly reinstated Mickey-Miles Felton at Arizona. Which old dog has the magic touch? I think it's M-MF by a hair. Arizona 12, Texas A&M 11.

SCHOOLER: The Lone Star Alliance versus the SLC/WCLL. Enough said. Arizona with an easy victory.

Schooler's Game Pick
Santa Clara at Loyola Marymount, 1 p.m. PT - Saturday
SCHOOLER: Just like BYU, Santa Clara has lost a coach synonymous with their program. Gary Podesta started with the program back in the 80's, but they parted ways during the summer. The Broncos have some size 14 shoes to fill and will have to rally if they want to defeat LMU.

Every season, the Lions look like they will break into the Top 15, but seem to come up a little short. This year will be no different. With 60 percent of the student population being women, it might be tough for those guys to focus on lacrosse. However, I don't see Santa Clara doing much with the loss of their coach so late in the year, so I am going with LMU in this one.

COYNE: This is good first pick for Nick because it'll be tough to call. I think if this game happened last week I would have quickly picked Loyola Marymount, but the opening loss to San Diego State is forcing me to hesitate. A lot of factors - Santa Clara getting it's opener against UC Davis postponed, new coach for the Broncos, etc. - are pointing me to pick the Lions, but I'm going to tab Santa Clara in a narrow one, 12-10.

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