Big East Lacrosse Tournament: So, This is a Thing Now

Apr 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; St. Johns Red Storm midfield Ryan Fitzgerald (3) scores goal against Notre Dame Fighting Irish goalie John Kemp (1) at the Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the Big East Tournament.

Remember that time when the Big East didn't have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament? Yes? Good, because it was actually "all the time that wasn't now." Those were crazy days, I tell you. Syracuse was out there, decimating the lacrosse universe. St. John's didn't have a program for stretches of that time, which is kind of like a 30 year-old telling a young sapling about snap bracelets. Villanova was kind of hanging out in THUNDERDOME!, just waiting for that unemployment check to roll in. And Notre Dame was noticeable, but it wasn't like they were wearing reds and yellows and screaming for a date.

Now, we're living in a different kind of America. Everyone has Notre Dame's number and wants to take them out on Saturday night. St. John's is trying to run for class treasurer and Villanova is writing some interesting things in medical journals and speaking at important conferences. Then there is Syracuse, which barely had enough gas in the bus to make it to town and are trying to bum a carburetor from a garage to even compete in the race. These are strange days, people.

Fancy infographics and detailed team profiles will follow, but for now, here's an overview of the 2012 Big East Tournament that you can study non-stop until your eyes bleed. Everything gets moving with the NCAA's newest "Well, my Mom said I had to invite you" auto-bid recipient on May 3, 2012.


Notre Dame is likely a strong favorite in this thing -- I mean, there's a reason that defensive sieges strangle the life out of the attritioned -- but with two teams fighting for their NCAA Tournament lives (Villanova and Syracuse), frantic, motivated play from either team could unseat the Irish from the top of the mountain. The Wildcats and Orange both need wins like Mr. Body needs your lungs, and their clash on Thursday evening should be as hectic as a convict heading for the fence and smelling freedom. St. John's played Notre Dame fairly close at MetLife Stadium earlier in the season and while a Red Storm defeat of the Irish would be shocking -- and a welcomed circumstance for either Villanova or Syracuse as a finalist opponent -- it's not a total impossibility. There are compelling storylines throughout this tournament, but all are somewhat muted by one fact: Notre Dame's defense isn't going to let anyone score a damn thing.

Here's how each team stacks up in some legacy metrics:

1. Notre Dame 60.31 56 28.49 39 18.94 1 9.56 8
2. Villanova 65.79 30 35.36 11 32.10 44 3.25 24
3. Syracuse 71.64 9 29.47 33 26.21 13 3.26 23
4. St. John's 62.5 48 31.14 23 31.89 41 -.075 35
PACE = Number of possessions per 60 minutes.
AOE = Adjusted offensive efficiency (goals for per 100 offensive possessions).
ADE = Adjusted defensive efficiency (goals against per 100 defensive possessions).
AEM = Adjusted efficiency margin (AOE less ADE).

The Irish are clearly the class of the participants, but when seasons are on the line, prior performance is only a buoy marker and not necessarily port.

Here's the shakedown on the big offensive weapons taking the field this weekend:

Notre Dame J. Marlatt 6.7708 119 St. John's K. McArdle 12.0523 12
Notre Dame S. Rogers 6.7708 119 St. John's K. Cernuto 8.5371 62
St. John's H. Kutner 6.5284 134
Villanova K. Cunningham 9.6644 37 St. John's T. Leach 6.0262 153
Villanova W. Casertano 8.4858 63
Villanova C.J. Small 7.3073 99 Syracuse T. Palasek 8.6317 60
Villanova J. Rice 7.0715 110 Syracuse D. Maltz 6.7369 125
Villanova M. Bell 5.4215 185 Syracuse J. Marasco 6.1054 149
Syracuse T. Desko 5.6843 179

T.O.V. = Total Offensive Value (individual points per 100 offensive possessions). This is updated through all games played by April 29, 2012.
Rank = National T.O.V. rank. This is updated through all games played by April 29, 2012.

So, that's your overview. Who are you taking to take home top honors?

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