Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Burn, Philly, Burn
February 17: at St. Joseph's; March 7: Villanova
The Sixth Borough is great at anger. Philadelphians have thrown snowballs at Santa Claus and batteries at J.D. Drew. They've also cheered Michael Irvin lying lifeless on the turf of Veterans Stadium. This isn't a town that does hugs (unless those hugs are actually choke holds, then yeah, Philly does hugs). The lacrosse should follow suit.
March 14: Princeton; March 21: at Cornell; March 28: Yale; April 4: at Brown; April 11: at Harvard; April 18: Dartmouth
For Penn, everything starts in the Ivy League portion of its schedule:
- The Quakers have made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in the program's history, the 15th most in the history of the tournament. That mark ranks tied for third among conference schools, trailing Cornell (25) and Princeton (20) (the Quakes are deadlocked with Brown with 12 invitations to The Big Barbeque). A solid run through the Ivy League in 2015 puts Pennsylvania, at a minimum, in the conversation for an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament, creating circumstances conducive to a 13th May adventure.
- Penn is shooting for its first back-to-back trip to the NCAA Tournament since the program strung together three consecutive trips between 1987 and 1989. Considering where the program was from 1991 to 2009 -- Penn made only two NCAA Tournament appearances in that 19-year stretch and went 100-141 (41.49%) overall -- making back-to-back trips to The Big Barbeque would be a major accomplishment for Penn. Taking care of business in the Ivy League is the platform to which the Quakers can make that potential energy a kinetic force.
- Pennsylvania hasn't won a regular season conference championship since 1988. Exacerbating this fact is that the Quakers rank fifth among Ivy League teams in conference winning percentage over the last five seasons. Mike Murphy has reinvigorated the Quakers, but there's still lots of room for Penn to grow in Division I's most monocle-wearing league.
February 24: at Maryland; April 25: v. ACC #5
Duke and Denver have pivoted off Pennsylvania's schedule and in their absence resides a former ACC team and an unknown current ACC member. The Quakers have consistently played one of the most difficult schedules in the nation under Murphy -- the average strength of schedule ranking for Penn over the last five years in LaxPower's system is 6.4 -- and that will not change in 2015 with Maryland and a yet-to-be-determined ACC team finding a place on the Quakers' slate. When combined with an already arduous Ivy League schedule and competitive dates against St. Joseph's, UMBC, Villanova, and Penn State, Pennsylvania has seemingly decided on "PAIN!" as its preferred modus operandi.