Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Addition by Addition and Subtraction
March 10: at North Carolina
Bryant's program is in an odd position: The Bulldogs have a depth in capacity that exceeds that of the majority of its conference peers and mid-major pals, but Bryant isn't exactly an established high-major destruction machine that can feel comfort around its at-large potential should the Bulldogs fail to earn the Northeast Conference's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Take 2014 for example: Bryant went 16-5 (including a victory over Syracuse in the first round of The Big Barbeque), but the Bulldogs' RPI ranking was just 20th nationally and the team held a weighted RPI strength of schedule ranking of 18th nationally. Those aren't exceptional values, ones that could have put Bryant in a tricky position if the 'Dogs would have bowed out of the NEC Tournament without a trophy.
Bryant, however, has potentially erased at least a portion of its RPI issues going into 2015: The addition of North Carolina to the Bulldogs' slate combined with the subtraction of Richmond and Monmouth from the team's schedule should provide RPI assistance due to the mere fact that Bryant will play the 'Heels and not face either the Spiders and Hawks. Again -- it's often more important to simply play a strong team that faces heightened competition than winning games against weaker competition that also faces uneven opponents. The Bulldogs have walked down that path this coming spring with the trade it made for Carolina to appear on its schedule. This is especially important for the Bulldogs in 2015 given the fact that Bryant is not a runaway favorite in the Northeast Conference this spring and could find itself in pool of at-large candidates, a precarious position that necessitates strong RPI values given the committee's historic reliance on the metric (and all of the metrics that it touches).
March 28: St. Joseph's
The Northeast Conference has finally -- finally! -- reached the point where it will host a regular season conference game that will draw eyeballs from across the breadth of Division I lacrosse. Hawks-Bulldogs has the potential for explosions and fire and everything that is awesome in the world. St. Joseph's is a true threat to Bryant's perch atop the NEC, and the Hawks and 'Dogs are more than capable of putting together a meeting that satisfies the appetites of some of college lacrosse's most discerning fans. This should be a real piece of work.
February 7: Colgate; February 14: at Bucknell; February 24: Albany; February 28: at Yale; March 7: at Drexel; March 10: at North Carolina; April 21: Brown
All of these nonconference opponents finished in the top half of LaxPower's 2014 ratings. Last season, the Bulldogs went 3-3 against such competition, dropping Albany, Drexel, and Bucknell (two of those three teams were NCAA Tournament participants last season). Ignore the names on the jerseys: Bryant is accomplished in knocking off solid non-league competition and is built to do the same again in 2015. The more "W's" that the Bulldogs can pull from this subset of teams, the stronger the team's postseason outlook will appear come tournament selection time.