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Taylor’s Takes: Games to Watch, Toughest Path to Final Four

The dance is finally here, and boy, are we in for a treat.

Selection Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year because there are always surprises. No matter how many potential hooks emerge leading up to the Selection Show, analysts and fans alike never seem to get it 100 percent right.

This year’s NCAA committee really focused on significant wins, unlike RPI, which is different from years past. Maryland and Virginia had multiple losses this year, but they also had huge wins, leaving both with a seed. Programs in less competitive conferences but impressive resumes like Loyola were left unseeded and will play on the road.

This week’s ‘Taylor’s Takes’ takes a look at the first round matches and some other things to note from this weekend’s action.

The best time of the year is HERE! Let’s do this!

GAMES TO WATCH

Stanford vs. Denver

This game will be a repeat of a March 17 game that resulted in a four-goal win in Denver. In their previous outing, the Pios dominated on the ground, Stanford controlled the draw, and both teams performed poorly on the open position line – going a combined 2-for-15. Adjustments to these “little things” categories will be critical for both teams as they play for a chance to take on top-seeded Northwestern on Sunday.

Florida vs. North Carolina

This is another rematch of an early season battle in which the Tar Heels prevailed 19-10 after nearly doubling the Gators in shots. This game was also the last time Florida lost this season, so I’m fascinated to see how this rendition turns out. Of all the first round matches, I was the most surprised to see this, as these are two high-powered programs that are often seeded.

James Madison vs. Penn State

These teams have not faced each other this season and are on almost opposite trajectories in this match. The Dukes are off to a red start to the season but are coming off a blowout loss to Florida in the AAC championship game, while Penn State had a rollercoaster midway through the season but is coming into this game confident and in control. The draw battle and their similar chaos-inducing zone defense are what I expect to be the highlights of this matchup.