It's all about who you play these days. Well, that's not necessarily true. It's actually all about meeting a guy named "Skeeter" and wondering how the hell he got that name and how much his swamp boat costs to rent. But for lacrosse purposes, who you play is pretty important.
Massachusetts has released its 2013 schedule, inasmuch as putting a schedule on a website is a "release." The Minutemen, who ran the table during the regular season in 2012 but were given a six-seed in the NCAA Tournament due, in part, to the team's strength of schedule (it ranked only 26th in the RPI's ranking of slates), appear to be extending themselves a bit more next season. It's not an impossible stretch of games, but it is challenging. Let's chew it apart (even though it looks like an RPI bonanza if things fall together).
February 16: v. North Carolina; March 19: @ Lehigh
You want names on the schedule? Massachusetts will put names on the schedule. The Minutemen -- which will feature Will Manny in 2013 but are looking to replace tons of important parts from their 2012 team, including goalie Tim McCormack -- will travel to Atlanta for an early season neutral site contest against a Tar Heels team as talented as any in the country and will also take a mid-March trip to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to face what should be a national title contender in Lehigh. Massachusetts won't be favored in either game, but if the Minutemen should grab a win in either contest, they'll have at least one "name" win to show the selection committee (something Greg Cannella's club didn't really have a year ago despite having a RPI quality win ranking that was fourth overall).
That's some aggressive scheduling.
Finish Strong or Be Finished
March 16: Penn State; March 30: @ St. Joseph's; April 6: @ Towson; April 13: Drexel; April 20: @ Hofstra; April 26: Delaware
It's a little unclear what THUNDERDOME! is going to look like in 2013. There are a lot of developing programs in the league, but at least three -- Penn State, Hofstra, and Drexel -- have strong potential to push Massachusetts for supremacy in the league. A relatively early date with Penn State -- sandwiched between games against Bucknell and Lehigh -- is going to be a true test for the Minutemen. Even if Massachusetts loses that game, though, the Minutemen still have the opportunity to define what their postseason will look like: Starting with the late-March game against Towson, Massachusetts will play nothing but league games to end its campaign. The three-game stretch of Towson-Drexel-Hofstra may ultimately determine where the Minutemen go, but it's all THUNDERDOME! all the time once the weather starts to get nice in Amherst.
Don't Want No Scrubs
February 23: @ Harvard; March 2: Brown; March 5: @ Albany; March 9: @ Bucknell; March 23: @ Hartford
Massachusetts is going to be challenged in its conference schedule and managed to schedule two big fish in the out-of-conference slate. Rather than sit back and try and knock around some glass jaws, the Minutemen round out their schedule with two nice Ivy League teams, an Albany team with some strong offensive talent, a Bucknell team that could be dangerous in the Patriot League despite their losses, and a Hartford team that will be re-tooling. That isn't bad at all, and with all but one on the road, Massachusetts isn't punting.
Also, anyone else notice the two-of-everything theory of scheduling here? Two Ivy League teams; two Patriot League teams; two America East teams. North Carolina is a lonely soul.