Conference Spotlight: Southern Conference
Current League Standings:
|TEAM||OVERALL RECORD||CONFERENCE RECORD||WINS||LOSSES||MEDIA POLL RANK (3/16)|
|Jacksonville||4-2||1-0||St. John's, Michigan, Robert Morris, VMI||Army, Marquette|
|Richmond||4-3||1-0||St. Joseph's, Rutgers, VMI, Mount St. Mary's||Marquette, UMBC, North Carolina|
|Furman||2-5||1-0||Canisius, Bellarmine||North Carolina, Lehigh, Denver, Air Force, Mount St. Mary's|
|Mercer||1-5||1-0||High Point||Boston, Duke, Siena, Detroit, Marquette|
|High Point||3-5||0-1||Delaware, Sacred Heart, Robert Morris||Duke, North Carolina, St. Joseph's, Marist, Mercer|
|Bellarmine||1-4||0-1||Robert Morris||Michigan, Ohio State, Detroit, Furman|
|VMI||07||0-2||Navy, Army, Mount St. Mary's, St. Joseph's, Richmond, Air Force|
- Jacksonville: After getting blasted by Army, 20-4, things weren't looking so hot for Jacksonville. But Guy Van Ardale's squad quickly turned things around, winning four out of its next five games. The young program -- the Dolphins are only in their sixth season of existence at the Division I level -- is on pace to finish over .500 for only the second time ever and has legitimate conference tournament hopes. Jacksonville's offense can bring some heat and the team has demonstrated that they aren't afraid of the big conferences, going 2-1 against the Big East and Big Ten combined in 2015. While a win against college lacrosse's darling, Marquette, would have been wonderful, Jacksonville is still in an excellent position to push through the Southern Conference regular season and potentially stand as the top dog in the conference tournament at the end of April.
- Richmond: Richmond has been putting in work this year. In only the program's second season, the Spiders have a winning record, co-lead the conference, and gave Marquette all the #EKGEagles could handle before falling in overtime, 10-11. Richmond has represented the conference well in its victories over St. Joseph's and Rutgers and has impressed in its losses to Marquette and North Carolina. Besides Jacksonville, Richmond is the only other team in the Southern Conference with a winning record and the two teams look like the most likely challengers for the conference's regular season crown.
- High Point: Much like Richmond and Jacksonville, High Point is another program that has reached lacrosse competency in a very short period of time. High Point went from 3-12 in 2013 to 9-7 last year to hanging with Duke into the final minutes of the fourth quarter in 2015. While 3-4 doesn't appear too impressive, three of the Panthers losses this season have been by one goal. Underestimate High Point at your own peril. A loss to previously winless Mercer has High Point at the bottom of the Southern Conference at the moment, but if the Panthers can put those close losses behind them and finish strong in their next few games, High Point could become a formidable challenger for the Southern Conference Tournament title.
Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:
- Richmond at Jacksonville (March 21), Jacksonville at Air Force (March 28), and High Point at Jacksonville (April 4): Jacksonville's two toughest conference games will be at home, where the Dolphins have failed to score double digits only once this season. Should Jacksonville sweep Richmond, Air Force, and High Point in the next three weeks, the Dolphins would be 7-2 with a 3-0 record in conference play.
- Richmond at Jacksonville (March 21), Richmond at Virginia (March 28), and Richmond at High Point (April 11): After playing six of its first seven games at home, Richmond finishes its season playing four of its next seven games on the road, including trips to Jacksonville, Virginia, and High Point. While conference games against Jacksonville and Richmond are crucial to Richmond's tournament hopes, in-state bully Virginia is probably not far from Dan Chemotti's thoughts. The Spiders arguably have a puncher's chance in this Old Dominion showdown -- Richmond actually led Virginia, 9-8, at halftime last year before falling 13-12.
- Air Force at High Point (March 21), High Point at Jacksonville (April 4), and Richmond at High Point (April 11): While High Point's loss to Mercer, was an unexpected conference L, the Panthers should still play in a major role in the Southern Conference regular season race this year. After taking on Air Force on the 21st, High Point has huge conference games against Jacksonville and Richmond on consecutive weekends. Victories over the Dolphins and the Spiders would catapult the Panthers right back in the Southern Conference mix. So long as High Point doesn't have another Mercer-like upset down the stretch, the Panthers should make the conference tournament at the end of April and challenge for the
ring of powerconference's automatic bid.
"That Guy" Watch:
- Dan Lomas (High Point): The Burlington, Ontario native has been lighting up goalies in 2015, with 20 tallies in seven games this season. Lomas entered 2015 with 78 career goals and two more buckets this season will get him to the 100 goal mark in his career. Lomas dropped a five spot or better twice this season, pushing in five marks against Delaware and a half-dozen against St. Joseph's. With High Point's most important conference games in the next few weeks, Lomas will need to keep the the dial on #BeastMode if the Panthers are to make The Big Barbecue.
- Tom Moore (Jacksonville): After leading the Dolphins in goals and points last season, Tom Moore decided to run it back and do more of the same this year, except now he also leads the team in assists. With 32 points in only six games this season, Tom is already on the cusp of passing his 39 points from 2014. Moreover, Moore has been quite impressive on the national stage, scoring eight and eleven points in Jacksonville's ESPN3-aired victories over Michigan and Robert Morris, respectively.
- League: This is almost definitely a one-bid conference. The Southern Conference is home to some dangerous teams, but I don't foresee any team in the conference garnering enough attention to merit an at-large bid.
- Jacksonville, High Point, Richmond: All three young programs have impressed this season. I believe one team out of this trio should win the conference's automatic bid and that a highly seeded team will be very disappointed to find out they have to play one of them in the first round (assuming they progress past the play-in round).
NCAA Tournament Prognosis: