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2015 Big East Lacrosse Tournament Preview

The Big East opens its tournament with Denver in the pole position.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Everything that's worth knowing about the Big East Tournament.

Participants

2015 BIG EAST TOURNAMENT
SEED TEAM BIG EAST RECORD LEAGUE WINS LEAGUE LOSSES
1. Denver 5-0 Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Providence, Marquette None
2. Georgetown 4-1 Marquette, Providence, Villanova, St. John's Denver
3. Marquette 3-2 Villanova, St. John's, Providence Georgetown, Denver
4. Villanova 1-4 St. John's Marquette, Denver, Georgetown, Providence

Times, Dates of Matchups

Thursday, April 30, 2015 (Semifinals -- at Villanova):

  • (3) Marquette v. (2) Georgetown: 4:30 PM (ET)
  • (4) Villanova v. (1) Denver: 7:00 PM (ET)

Saturday, May 2, 2015 (Championship -- at Villanova):

  • Semifinal I Winner v. Semifinal II Winner: 7:30 PM (ET)

Television/Internet

Both semifinals will be broadcast on the Big East Digital Network, a channel on Fox Sports Go. Patrick O'Keefe will handle the play-by-play while Richard Donovan is on color commentary duties. Cayleigh Griffin will roam the sideline. The Big East championship game will air live on Fox Sports 2. The league has not announced the talent for the finals broadcast.

League Tournament Spirit Animal

A flight of beers -- some of it is fantastic, some of it tastes like it was fermented in an oil drum, but on the balance it's pretty good.

Conference Attribute Profile

Here's how the Big East compares to the rest of the nation:

THE BIG EAST: 2015 CONFERENCE ATTRIBUTE PROFILE
LEAGUE LEAGUE STRENGTH RANK INTERNAL COMPETITIVENESS RANK AVG. WIN% RANK
Big East 52.73% 5/10 0.1718 6/10 53.14% 3/10

Truncated Scouting Reports

The stylistic profiles of the Big East Tournament's participants looks as follows:

THE BIG EAST: 2015 TRUNCATED SCOUTING REPORTS
METRIC DENVER G'TOWN 'QUETTE 'NOVA
Estimated Pace 57.10 (63) 65.86 (21) 59.47 (54) 62.23 (41)
Estimated Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +10.53 (1) -1.14 (39) -2.86 (57) -1.15 (40)
Estimated Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio +7.89% (7) +1.96% (31) +5.17% (16) -0.82% (41)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 41.06 (3) 37.11 (10) 37.01 (11) 30.22 (46)
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.14 (30) 1.23 (12) 1.21 (16) 1.28 (2)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity 64.41% (7) 59.61% (31) 59.61% (30) 53.35% (64)
Offensive Shooting Rate 35.39% (4) 29.80% (22) 30.10% (21) 24.02% (58)
Offensive Assist Rate 25.00 (5) 18.32 (28) 19.06 (26) 16.88 (44)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 33.34 (46) 30.67 (32) 32.23 (39) 29.64 (24)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.32 (67) 1.20 (55) 1.14 (37) 1.06 (20)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 56.25% (10) 60.57% (52) 59.96% (43) 60.50% (50)
Defensive Shooting Rate 26.75% (22) 26.64% (20) 29.32% (42) 29.45% (43)
Defensive Assist Rate 20.13 (52) 17.70 (36) 16.03 (22) 18.69 (43)
Faceoff Percentage 70.46% (1) 44.66% (51) 44.11% (54) 49.49% (33)
Clearing Percentage 86.96% (25) 83.08% (49) 87.18% (22) 84.83% (37)
Turnover Margin +9.51 (5) -0.44 (39) +4.42 (24) +0.12 (36)
"Run of Play" Groundballs Margin +0.67 (29) +4.56 (9) -1.12 (42) -4.45 (62)
Penalties Margin +0.81 (17) +0.33 (27) -1.12 (58) +0.74 (20)
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 38.94 (11) 40.72 (7) 34.83 (30) 33.01 (37)
Team Save Percentage 52.44% (32) 56.01% (13) 51.10% (40) 51.32% (38)

Three Things

  • Denver's defense is a strong illustration of both the distortive nature of tempo-included metrics and what a bonkers possession margin can do for a team. The Pioneers currently rank 11th nationally in goals allowed per game (8.23), but that stat does not consider two important items: (1) Denver only plays an estimated 23.29 defensive opportunities per 60 minutes; and (2) The Pios only play an estimated 57.10 total possessions per 60 minutes. Eliminating pace from Denver's defensive profile yields a very different perception of the Pioneers' defensive output: The Pioneers currently rank in the bottom third in the nation in adjusted goals per defensive opportunity, giving up tallies on about a third of their defensive possessions. This flaw in the Pioneers' profile may provide the blueprint for beating Denver, a surging team that has won its last seven games by an average of almost eight goals per contest: If three factors come into focus -- (1) speeding Denver up to force the team to play more defensive opportunities, accomplished primarily through creating defensive stops against the Pios' prodigious offense; (2) chewing into Trevor Baptiste's incomprehensible domination at the dot, thereby shifting a few possessions in a favorable direction; and (3) attacking Denver's defense with high efficiency, potentially taking advantage of the team's propensity to give up assisted tallies -- Denver can be topped. This is Denver's wart, but the problem with exposing it is that it takes a special team to combat the Pioneers' strengths and there aren't a lot of teams in Division I capable of doing so.
  • Georgetown has stronger at-large potential than Marquette at this stage of the season, but that does not diminish the importance of the Hoyas taking care of business against the Eagles in the Big East Tournament semifinals. LaxPower's latest NCAA Tournament selection probabilities gives Georgetown a 60.62 percent chance to make the field as an at-large candidate to The Show. Beating the Eagles may give the Hoyas a bump, but the real key to advancing past Marquette at Villanova Stadium lies with the Hoyas' presumed opponent in the event's championship game -- Denver. The Pios are currently ranked fifth in the RPI, and as 75 percent of a team's RPI is based on that team's opponents and its opponents' opponents', a profile bump is likely to inure in Georgetown's favor simply by facing the Pioneers, regardless of outcome (a win against Denver obviously renders the entire analysis moot). This Big East Tournament semifinal has significant ramifications for Georgetown, and a loss in that spot -- combined with some insanity elsewhere this week -- could pitch the Hoyas out of the NCAA Tournament bracket.
  • Marquette is not entering the Big East Tournament in the best shape: After racing out to seven straight wins to start their spring campaign, the Eagles alternated wins and losses over their next six games and enter the conference's postseason event the losers of two straight by an average of seven goals per game. The shine on the Eagles' diamond has faded a bit, with early season victories against Lehigh, Hofstra, and Ohio State not holding the same cachet as they did as the season was just starting to develop. This isn't to imply that Marquette is bad; rather, it's that the Eagles' volition has changed in drastic ways in the second half of its campaign. Joe Amplo has done a tremendous job building a viable entity in Milwaukee in only the program's third season of existence, and regardless of what happens in Philadelphia this week, the Eagles have authored a strong year.