It’s a great sports weekend in Maryland, Saturday is the biggest sporting event of the year in our state as trainer Bob Baffert saddles Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah for the 140th running of the Preakness stakes, its fancy hats, concerts, bikini contests, corporate tents, and the reformed but still crazy infield. Yes, Maryland’s biggest annual party will be rocking Pimlico.
If baseball is your game the Orioles are at Camden Yards this weekend with Mike Trout and the Angels. Here’s an adventure for you sports nuts, try this Triple Crown; an Orioles game Friday night, Old Hilltop for the Preakness Saturday followed by a trip to Navy for NCAA playoff lacrosse on Sunday.
Eight teams are still in the hunt for the men’s national championship and the two remaining from Maryland both play Sunday at Navy Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis.
In the first game, Sunday at noon, Johns Hopkins faces second seed Syracuse. Hopkins sure didn’t resemble a national contender a month ago, the Blue Jays lost at Ohio State on April 6th and were sleep-walking through a 4-6 season. A week later Dave Pietramala’s team was able to grind out a double overtime home win against Penn State and they haven’t lost since.
Three straight wins to end the regular season, wins over Ohio State and Penn State to win the inaugural Big Ten title (and automatic NCAA qualifier) and last week a dominating 19-7 win at Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament. That 4-6 Hopkins team is ancient history, with 6 straight wins the Blue Jays are poised, confident and a win away from the final 4 in Philadelphia.
Hopkins hasn’t made it to the semifinals since 2008 when they lost to Syracuse in the championship game. The Big Ten Tournament gave Hopkins a new lease on life and now they’re playing as well as any team in the country.
Maryland will meet North Carolina in Sunday’s second game (2:30) in Annapolis. The Terps edged Yale 8-7 in the opening round of the tournament in College Park. Maryland coach John Tillman knows a thing or two about this tournament stuff, he’s lead his team to three Final Fours in his first 4 seasons as head coach of the Terps.
Maryland has plenty of post season experience but momentum might be lacking, their last 6 games include four 1-goal wins and a par of 3-goal losses. They may not have “Mo” on their side but Maryland and Hopkins should both have the home crowd advantage as their loyal fans head to Annapolis Sunday.
The other Semifinal site is Denver with a doubleheader on Saturday. Top seed Notre Dame meets Albany at 3:00 followed by fourth seed Denver and Ohio State at 5:30. The four winners meet Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia to play for the national championship.