Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
April 24 and 26: v. ACC Championship
The ACC Tournament hasn't seen a lot of champions reproduce their efforts in a proceeding season. After North Carolina dominated early iterations of the tournament -- the Tar Heels won the first six ACC Tournaments, running through the league's postseason without issue from 1989 through 1994 -- the conference has sustained a back-to-back champion only four times in 20 seasons of competition:
- Virginia won consecutive titles in 1999 and 2000.
- Maryland won back-to-back tournaments in 2004 and 2005.
- Duke earned hardware in 2001 and 2002 and followed up those consecutive titles with a three-year blast through the ACC Tournament from 2007 to 2009.
March 7: at Denver
Will college lacrosse witness a regular season meeting between the top-ranked and second-ranked teams in the nation as early as March? It's possible: The Irish will face three opponents -- Georgetown, Michigan, and Dartmouth -- before heading west to face the Pioneers, these games looking like strong opportunities for Notre Dame to break in their curb-stomping boots; Denver will face an enhanced slate of opponents before hosting the Irish, running against Duke and North Carolina -- with Air Force and Furman sandwiched between those teams -- before having the opportunity to throw hands with Notre Dame. If the Pios can navigate their early nightmares, the nation's consciousness could center on Colorado in a huge meeting with major implications.
Even if Irish-Pioneers fails to pit the two highest ranking teams in the nation against each other, the game still has juice: Notre Dame and Denver have had an awesome stretch of tight games over the last four seasons, even with the Irish holding a 3-1 edge against the Pioneers since 2011. The aggregate scoring in those four meetings is 40-40 with three one-goal victories inuring to Notre Dame's favor (including two overtime results, one of the triple overtime variety). This game has "MUST WATCH, TELL THE KIDS TO NOT EXIST!" written all over it.
We're Getting the Band Back Together!
March 7: at Denver; March 21: Ohio State
The Irish, Pioneers, and Buckeyes are all former members of the Great Western Lacrosse League. Is this a sign that the three teams are quietly attempting to reboot a once-great concern, ensuring the return of Michigan State and Butler to Division I lacrosse, and probably making the ACC dissolve out of fear that the Great West -- I don't even know where that is? Are there things west of New Jersey? Isn't that Russia? -- will dominate Earth with lacrosse power heretofore never seen? Probably!