THUNDERDOME! had become a bit of an outlier in Division I lacrosse, holding fast to the multi-site postseason format while all other auto-bid conferences had gone to a single-site structure (either having the tournament's highest seed host the entire event or sending all qualifying teams to a predetermined location). THUNDERDOME!'s unique approach to postseason play, however, is no more: The conference is abandoning its roaming tent show of liberated limbs via broadsword and is now housing its chainsaws-and-nail-guns battles at just one pain factory -- Penn State:
Nittany Lion men's lacrosse will host the Colonial Athletic Association Championship May 1-3 at the Penn State Lacrosse Field the conference office confirmed Monday. The semifinal doubleheader on May 1 will start at 3 p.m. and the title game on May 3 will commence at 3 p.m. The winner of the CAA Championship earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
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The one-site format is new this season as voted on by the conference's coaches, rewarding the No. 1 seed with home field advantage and hosting all three CAA Championship games. Under the old format, which saw the higher seeds host home games on Wednesday and Saturday, Penn State held two CAA semifinal games on campus as the No. 2 seed in 2011 and 2012. Massachusetts is the defending CAA Championship winner.
Penn State, Drexel, and Towson have already clinched the tournament's top three seeds. Hofstra, St. Joseph's, and Massachusetts are fighting for the league's last postseason e-vite.
The impact of this format change is unclear. Penn State obviously has the luxury of not having to get on a bus and travel, but THUNDEDOME!, inherently, doesn’t care where the carnage actually occurs -- lower seeded teams are 10-8 in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament since the 2007 season; the right to host the conference's postseason doesn't necessarily carry with it a free pass to the NCAA Tournament. In fact, given that three out of the league's our postseason participants will need to travel similarly and that the conference's finalists will have the same level of rest and lack of "bus legs," the THUNDERDOME! Tournament may actually become more hectic in 2013 based on a single-site format. In short, while Penn State holds an advantage over its guests for the weekend, the relatively balanced nature of the league combined with generally uniform circumstances applied across the board could create an even higher level of viciousness in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament.