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A Look at Big February Upsets

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Just how many upsets occur in February?

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

An upset isn't cast in stone. As the season unfolds, results that were -- at one time -- considered victories for big underdogs can morph into results that aren't as extreme. That principle is what created an interest in determining just how many significant upsets -- upsets that are considered notable upsets at the end of the season -- are occurring in February.

Early season lacrosse feels like its ripe with brain-melting upsets, but that's not really exactly the case. Using LaxPower's log of upsets -- upsets are charted based on the difference in LaxPower's power ratings between teams -- from 2010 through 2014, only about 2 of each season's top 10 upsets have occurred in Division I lacrosse's first month. This is probably attributable to a myriad of identifiable circumstances -- for example: (1) not all teams and leagues have used February as a busy month of competition; (2) many February games feature power teams clubbing non-elite crash dummies; (3) there are a lot of balanced matchups in February -- but the fact still remains that only about 20 percent of each season's top 10 upsets will find a home in the year's shortest month.

Somewhat interestingly, of the 10 upsets in February that have made a season's top 10 upset list, only three games -- Canisius topping Air Force in 2014; High Point beating Towson in 2013; and Dartmouth dropping Colgate in 2012 -- have featured a team upsetting an eventual NCAA Tournament participant. That's it.  Of the 50 results considered over the last five seasons, six percent have occurred in February and featured a favorite that would eventually earn a May adventure. Massive upsets -- the kind of upsets that change how you think about teams -- just aren't happening at a high rate in February. That fact doesn't seem to match the experience of February lacrosse, but that's reality.

When you stretch the analysis out to mid-March, considering results occurring on or before March 15th, the upset ratio rises. A total of 22 upsets dot the landscape of top 10 upsets in the past five seasons, accounting for almost half of the total recognized upsets. Adding just 15 days to the scope of the examination more than doubles the total number of major upsets identified, a serious change that shows volatility between March 1st and March 15th. The rate of upsets of eventual NCAA Tournament teams rises as well, with eight -- !!!!!!! -- eventual invitees to The Big Barbeque falling to a big underdog in March's first 15 days over the last five seasons.

Accordingly, early March has shown a greater proclivity for embracing big upsets compared to February, and if you're excited about watching something potentially earth-shattering, there's probably a better chance that it happens in March rather than February.