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2014 College Lacrosse Preview: Big East Looks West for Preseason Favorite

Denver tops the league's preseason poll.

Drew Hallowell

When Syracuse and Notre Dame announced their departures for the ACC, the Big East's lacrosse concern was in a position of turmoil. Then, when Rutgers announced their intention to join the Big Ten, the Big East appeared poised to dissolve into nothingness. There were serious questions about the survival capability of the league, most concerning whether the Big East would seek associate membership or spit its teams into the atmosphere.

When the dust settled in the latest round of conference realignment, though, the league managed to not only endure but to maintain a level of relevancy: The conference's addition of Denver to the league's lacrosse effort was a stroke of genius. And it's that addition that highlights the Big East's preseason expectations. To the press release:

A pair of defending major award winners and a newcomer were highlighted as the 2014 Preseason All-BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse honors and poll were announced on Wednesday by the conference. St. John's senior attackman Kieran McArdle was named BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while Villanova senior long-stick midfielder John LoCascio was tabbed the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Topping the preseason poll was BIG EAST newcomer Denver, which enters the conference following two appearances in the NCAA semifinals in the last three seasons. The Pioneers topped the poll with 36 points and six first-place votes, while St. John's took second with 31 points and the last remaining first-place ballot.

Here's how the voting shook out (voters could not cast a ballot for their own team):

1. Denver 6 36
2. St. John's 1 31
3. Villanova 25
4. Georgetown 22
T5. Providence 12
T5. Rutgers 12
7. Marquette 9

So, every coach that isn't Bill Tierney picked Denver to win the league while Bill Tierney picked St. John's to win the Big East this season. Secret ballots, ahoy!

Tiering is, once again, visible: Tier I -- Denver, the coaches' definitive favorite in the league despite not having an ultra-hoopyball concern; Tier II -- St. John's, Villanova, and Georgetown, with the Hoyas considered closer in quality to the Wildcats than the Wildcats are to the Johnnies; Tier III -- Providence and Rutgers, essentially existing at the same spot on the Big East's spectrum; and Tier V -- Marquette, an official member of the conference this season.

As for preseason all-league honors, Kieran McArdle (St. John's) earned preseason offensive player of the year honors while John LoCascio (Villanova) took home preseason defensive player of the year honors. Here's the full preseason All-Big East team:

A Kieran McArdle St. John's Sr.
A Wes Berg Denver Jr.
A Reilly O'Connor Georgetown Jr.
M Jeremy Noble Denver Sr.
M Charlie McCormick Georgetown Jr.
M Andrew Barton Providence Sr.
D Carson Cannon Denver Jr.
D John Urbank Georgetown Sr.
D Chris Conroy Villanova Sr.
D Chris Piccirilli Villanova Sr.
LSM John LoCascio Villanova Sr.
F/O Joe Nardella Rutgers Jr.
GK Jamie Faus Denver Sr.