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Conference Spotlight: THUNDERDOME!

Have a seat right there in the corner, CAA. It's your turn in our conference spotlight.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Current League Standings:

Fairfield 1-1 0-0 Providence Holy Cross
Towson 1-1 0-0 Johns Hopkins Loyola 16
Delaware 1-2 0-0 Bucknell High Point, Ohio State
Drexel 0-1 0-0
Hofstra 0-1 0-0 Marquette
Massachusetts 0-2 0-0 Army, North Carolina

All rankings based off of 2/16 Media Poll.

Wha' Happened?:

  • Towson: For better or worse, "DOWN GOES JOHNS HOPKINS!" will ring in my head all season long. The Tigers have the biggest early season win of 2015 after taking down Hopkins in Towson's first game of the year. However, the Tigers were unable to claim all of Charles St. as their own personal Tiger sanctuary after losing to Loyola in a High Noon Shootout on Wednesday. Towson still has a top 10 win in their basket, but they could have laid claim to the best at-large resume in Division I if they had beaten the 'Hounds.
  • Drexel: Despite racing out to a quick 3-0 lead, the Dragons were unable to pull off the upset against Virginia in their first game of the season. Drexel will have to quickly put that cold and snowy Valentine's Day night behind them as they take on two top 10 opponents before the end of February.
  • Massachusetts: The post-Super Bowl hangover has hit the state of Massachusetts and UMass hard (PSA: everyone please stop snow diving!). The Minutemen defense must shovel a path to relevancy after giving up 20 goals to North Carolina last weekend and another dozen to Army back on February 7th.

Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:

  • Albany at Drexel (February 21) and Villanova at Drexel (February 24) and Drexel at Maryland (February 28): Drexel's early schedule is littered with top 10 opponents. Besides the 'Hoos, Drexel will also face off against the Terps and Great Danes before the end of February. Moreover, while unranked, Drexel must also fit in time to throw hands against Villanova in a #PhillyFour Tuesday night special. All of these nonconference games are excellent opportunities for Drexel to get a quality win before its schedule pivots toward March. The most important thing for the Dragons at this point is that big opportunities exist and the team's ceiling may turn on how Drexel performs in those monster games.
  • Hofstra at Princeton (February 21): The last time Hofstra beat Princeton (2011) the Pride also made the playoffs. While causation and correlation are two things I didn't study in college, let's just say that everyone in Hempstead will quickly forget losing to Marquette if Hofstra can take down Princeton this weekend. A loss to Princeton would be a shot to the Pride's mouth as Hofstra does not dance with another team currently in the top 20 until the Pride meets Drexel on April 4th. By then, a resume light in impressive out-of-conference wins could force the Pride to fight for the life preserver that is THUNDERDOME!'s automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
  • Massachusetts at Harvard (February 21) and Massachusetts at Albany (March 7): There's no better way to shake off two drubbings than regurgitating some Gordon Wood and arguing about apples with those Harvard boys. The Minutemen could spend February 21st talking about the capital-forming effects of military mobilization, or they could demonstrate that they are wicked smahhhht in Lacrosse 101 by beating the Crimson in Cambridge. Shortly thereafter, Massachusetts will take a trip west to Albany and will need to bring ALL the defensemen and ALL the King's horsemen to stop star other-worldly attackman, reigning Tewaaraton winner, and reigning two-time America East Player of the Year, Lyle Thompson.
  • Towson at Georgetown (February 21) and Ohio State at Towson (March 17): In another nooner, the Tigers take on a Georgetown team that they've seen only five times in their history despite the fact that the series dates back to 1963. Though Georgetown is unranked, the Hoyas did garner some attention and votes nods in the latest media poll after hanging tough with Notre Dame. A win by the Tigers would ensure that their early season upset win against Hopkins wasn't an outlier.

"That Guy" Watch:

  • Joe Seider (Towson): The Towson sophomore has been a steady source of production for the Tigers this season, depositing six goals while also chipping in an assist. Seider is already ahead of last year's pace when he led the team in buckets with 23. Seider and Spencer Parks -- a transfer from Carolina -- will need to continue their strong start for Towson if the Tigers hope to continue to bag big kills.
  • Will Fox (Fairfield): Mr. Fox won 12 of 16 faceoffs in Fairfield's 10-6 victory at Providence, including a string of wins in the third period that helped Fairfield to a 6-0 run to finish off the Friars. The Stags have a highly-regarded offense, and any extra opportunities that Fox can provide to the team can help Fairfield press opponents into trying to keep pace with the Stags' offensive ability.
  • Nick Mariano (Massachusetts): With a hat-trick in each of his two games, the sophomore is leading the Minutemen with six tallies and an assist. Mariano had a stellar 2014 as the THUNDERDOME! Rookie of the Year -- which means that he cleared out opponents with a flamethrower and did not light himself on fire -- and was everywhere for the Minutemen last season, leading the team team in goals while also finishing second in assists and third in ground balls. He looks, again, like a major cog for UMass in 2015 and will be a major factor in the team's push toward a potential spot in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Tournament Prognosis:

  • League: One-bid? Two-bid? It's tough to tell right now. After February, most of the teams in the conference won't play another team presently in the top 20 until conference play starts in April. This is problematic, especially if teams like Hofstra and Drexel can't capitalize on their February opportunities like Towson did against Hopkins. As a result, the league will play musical chairs -- FOR KEEPS! -- in the THUNDERDOME! regular season and THUNDERDOME! Tournament to determine which team will earn the conference's automatic bid and receive an assured trip to a May adventure.
  • Towson: The Tigers had the block on fire after their win against Hopkins. While it would have been great to also have beaten Loyola, the win against Hopkins makes Towson the only team outside the top 10 with a win over a top 10 opponent. 
  • Drexel: Losing to Virginia, in the middle of a snowstorm, is nothing to be ashamed about. Drexel has two games against top 10 opponents (Albany and Maryland) and a #PhillyFour match-up with Villanova within the next nine days to get important quality wins. Add in the fact the Dragons have a game against Michigan (the Wolverines are receiving votes this week's media poll), and Drexel will have opportunities to earn solid victories. The Dragons just need to capitalize on those chances.