Lars Tiffany is going to have a busy March.
Brown was so weird in 2012. The team finished the year 7-8, but only beat one team -- Cornell -- that finished the year with a record above .500. In fact, the combined record of the teams that the Bears dropped last season was a mediocre 30-67; Brown's average margin of victory in those games was just around 4.5 goals (in three games -- Dartmouth, Cornell, and Pennsylvania -- Brown won by two goals or less). This team wasn't among the nation's best, yet was able to sneak into the Ivy League Tournament and finished the year right in the middle of the country in adjusted efficiency margin (ranking 30th overall). Brown was a perfect example of Lake Wobegon residents in 2012, and I have no idea what that means for the Bears in 2013.
The Bears' schedule for next season isn't exactly a cake walk, but it isn't particularly imposing either. There are some nuclear missiles, some artillery fire, and some sling-shotted pebbles, but overall it's hard to see what this schedule means to Brown until the Bears start showing the country what it has in store for 2013.
Let's tear this apart.
March is Whack!
March 2: @ Massachusetts; March 6: @ Hartford; March 9: St. Joseph's; March 16: Harvard; March 24: @ High Point; March 27: @ North Carolina; March 30: @ Princeton
Ay-yi-yi. Brown is going to be playing seven games in March, and it's not even the approximately two games a week that the Bears will play that's the issue. It's more layered than that. Not only will Brown play two important conference games in March that makes the month dicey, it's how the month lines up: Of the seven games in March, five are on the road and two of those road games are back-to-back affairs in North Carolina. Throw in the fact that there are pipe bombs all over the place in those 31 days -- North Carolina has enough talent to make May movement, Massachusetts is re-tooling but still in a good position to win THUNDERDOME!, Princeton and Harvard are going to be fighting with Yale and Brown for the bottom three seeds for the the Ivy League Tournament, and St. Joseph's is going in the right direction under Taylor Wray -- and Brown's season may be determined before the calendar even flips to April.
Then there's the fact that Brown will have two periods where it plays multiple games in a one week stretch: First, the Bears will play the Minutemen, Hawks, and other Hawks over the first week in March; then, the Bears will play the Panthers, Heels, and Tigers in just six days. The only break is a 15-day stretch in which the Bears will square off only against Harvard. That is nightmare fuel.
April is Sorta Whack!
April 6: Pennsylvania; April 12: @ Yale; April 16 @ Providence; April 20: Cornell; April 23: @ Bryant; April 27: @ Dartmouth
This is exactly why Brown's March run is so important for the Bears: The accelerator stays down through the end of the regular season with a six-game April. Let's skip the fact that the bulk of the Bears' conference schedule is in this month and focus on two other things: (1) There are important in-state games against Providence and Bryant in the middle of the month, huge for local pride and recognition; and (2) There is let-down potential here against Providence, Bryant, and Dartmouth. It's that second thing that raises my interest the most: The Providence game comes after an important game against Yale and before the Cornell clash; the Bryant game comes just three days after the Bears see the Red; and if everything goes south for Brown, Dartmouth at the end of the season is rife with potential trouble.
This is a difficult run, for sure, but its the construct of the run that makes it especially dangerous.