Marquette takes their 7-0 record and #9 in the country ranking to Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the first Big East game of the season. They'll be taking on Georgetown, so let's get some of the basics regarding that game out of the way, since this will double as the preview for that game:
Now we'll take a swing around the Big East to see how each men's lacrosse team has started their 2015 season. Next to each school's name is their record and their ranking according to Tempo Free Lax, which is essentially the KenPom for lacrosse. From there, we'll let you know each team's most important statistical players, plus point out their best win and worst loss according to the rankings from Tempo Free Lax, too. A reminder for you when it comes to Division 1 men's lacrosse: There are only 67 teams in Division 1, so any ranking over 34 means that the team is in the bottom half of the country, while anything better than 14 has you in the top 20% of the country.
Denver (5-2, #10)
Inside Lacrosse Ranking: #6
Points Leader: Connor Cannizzaro, 32
Goals Leader: Connor Cannizzaro, 19
Assists Leader: Zach Miller, 14
Top Goalie: Ryan LaPlante; 8.83 GAA, .516 SV%
Best Win: vs #2 Notre Dame, 11-10 (OT)
Worst Loss: at #13 Ohio State, 13-11
The Pioneers were the favorites to win the Big East and the national championship at the start of the season. They've challenged themselves with their schedule, but the results haven't gone in their favor. They're 3-2 against teams in the top 26 in the TFL ratings, which is generally slightly troubling when it comes to their national championship hopes. With that said, however, they are 2-1 against top 10 teams, with the wins coming against Duke on a neutral field and at home against Notre Dame.
Denver has the most lethal man-up offense in the Big East thus far this season, converting a league best 64% of their chances into a league leading 16 extra man opportunity goals. That's 2.29 EMO goals per game, more than 0.75 more goals per game than anyone else in the Big East. This is probably a good thing for them, because they're also the league's worst penalty killing team, allowing teams to score against them while a man down on 52% of Denver's penalties.
Cannizzaro's goals are tied for the most in the Big East this season, and with seven games played, he's tied for the goals per game lead, too. He's got two more assists than anyone else in the league, too, which gives him the conference lead in total points and points per game this season. Miller and Wes Berg are both in the top 10 in the Big East in points, so it's quite the diverse offense.
Georgetown (5-3, #29)
Points Leader: Bo Stafford, 30
Goals Leader: Peter Conley, 19
Assists Leader: Bo Stafford & Reilly O'Connor, 14
Top Goalie: Nick Marrocco; 10.76 GAA, .536 SV%
Best Win: at #17 Loyola (MD), 13-12
Worst Loss: vs #31 Towson, 9-6
After starting their season with consecutive losses to Notre Dame and Towson, the Hoyas have bounced back to win five of their last six. Now, in fairness, three of the wins were against bottom half competition. On the flip side, the loss was to #9 Duke by just two goals at home, and the most recent win was that road victory over Loyola.
Conley is in that four pack of dudes locked into the top of the goals list this season, while Stafford has the fourth most points amongst the six teams in the Big East. Marrocco ranks as the worst goaltender in the Big East in terms of goals against average, but he's got a couple of guys behind him when it comes to save percentage. This is all okay, though, as Georgetown is leading the Big East in goals per game.
Marquette (7-0, #23)
Inside Lacrosse Ranking: #9
Points Leader: Jordan Greenfield, 30
Goals Leader: Jordan Greenfield, 19
Assists Leader: Jordan Greenfield, 11
Top Goalie: Jimmy Danaher; 8.54 GAA, .530 SV%
Best Win: #13 Ohio State at a neutral site, 10-9
Worst Loss: NOOOOOOOOOPE
The Golden Eagles pushed their way into the Inside Lacrosse Top 20 by way of wins over Lehigh and Hofstra to open the season. Those two teams were ranked at the time, but now, they're hovering on either side of the #25 spot in the TFL rankings. Still pretty good wins, but not as particularly impressive as was originally thought. The important thing to remember is that Marquette is just eight goals away from being 3-4 on the season instead of undefeated and the talk of the lacrosse world. The Hoyas are the perfect opponent at the perfect time for MU, if the Golden Eagles can swing the victory: They're a top half opponent, plus, they're barely outside the top 20 of the IL poll, so a win would help keep MU in that top 10.
Jordan Greenfield is only going to wear blue & gold for one season, but he's making the most of his time. He's tied for the Big East lead in goals per game, and he's less than three-tenths of a point behind Cannizzaro for the league lead in points per game. As a team, Marquette is allowing the fewest goals per 60 minutes amongst Big East squads, and as long as you limit it to guys who have played at least 300 minutes, Jimmy Danaher is allowing the fewest goals per 60 minutes amongst individual goalies. Marquette's needed every minute of that goaltending from the sophomore, though, as they have four one-goal wins on the season and a two-goal win as well.
Providence (4-3, #41)
Points Leader: Will Mazzone, 19
Goals Leader: Will Mazzone & Greg FitzMaurice, 11
Assists Leader: Will Mazzone, 8
Top Goalie: Peter Badgley; 10.31 GAA, .606 SV%
Best Win: vs #14 Boston University, 7-4
Worst Loss: at #24 Hofstra, 15-4
I'll admit I didn't expect much from the Friars this season. They lost every single significant player that they had to graduation, and they weren't that great last year to start with. Here, though, we have a PC squad that staked themselves to a hard fought win over a good Boston U squad on their way to sitting one game over .500 as the conference schedule starts. A lot of this can be credited to Badgley, as he's got the best save percentage in the Big East.
There's a dark side to having the best save percentage, though. If you're a great team stopping a high percentage, then you've got a great defense. If you're just okay like PC is, well, then your defense might not be that great and your goalie might be bailing them out. That is the case here, as Badgely is already over 100 saves on the season and he leads the conference with 14.71 saves per game, nearly two and a half saves more than anyone else.
PC doesn't have a lot of scoring pop in any one individual player, as Mazzone barely sneaks into a tie for the 10th best mark in the Big East, and they are the worst scoring offense in the league. But they do have 13 different players that have found the back of the net this season, and 10 different Friars have assisted on a goal. It doesn't total up to a lot, but they do spread it around a lot.
St. John's (2-6, #32)
Points Leader: Eric DeJohn, 31
Goals Leader: Eric DeJohn, 19
Assists Leader: Eric DeJohn, 12
Top Goalie: Harry Burke; 10.12 GAA, .510 SV%
Best Win: vs #7 Stony Brook, 13-8
Worst Loss: at #62 Jacksonville, 12-11 (OT)
So, St. John's isn't very good, record wise. In their defense, they've played three of TFL's top seven teams, coming away with a 1-2 record, and the loss to Yale was in overtime. Working against them is that OT loss to the Dolphins, not to mention a loss while visiting #45 Siena.
One thing hasn't changed for the Red Storm, though. Just because Kieran McArdle is gone now doesn't mean that they're going to diversify the offense. Junior attackman Eric DeJohn is dominating the attack with both goals and assists, although senior attackman Stefan Diachenko has already eclipsed his career high in goals by tallying 18 thus far in 2015.
The goalie situation might be evolving for SJU. Joseph Danaher got the nod to start this season, but he got lifted partway through the loss to Jacksonville, and then again at the half in their next game, the loss to Siena. Burke has played ever since that point, but he really hasn't been an improvement on what Danaher was doing, at least from a statistical point of view.
Villanova (5-2, #25)
Inside Lacrosse Ranking: #17
Points Leader: Jack Curran, 21
Goals Leader: Danny Seibel, 16
Assists Leader: Sean Cerrone, 14
Top Goalie: Greg Stamatov; 8.29 GAA, .517 SV%
Best Win: vs #26 Lehigh, 8-3
Worst Loss: vs #15 Johns Hopkins, 13-10
First things first, we have to tackle the Wildcats' goalie situation. After being named to the all-Big East second team a year ago, Dan Willis has been demoted to backup status. That's not without its benefits: Willis has played the second half of every single one of Villanova's games this season while Stamatov has started all seven. Stamatov has the better goals-against average, but Willis has the better save percentage. I don't know what is driving head coach Mike Corrado's decision there, but there you have it.
Villanova started the season unranked, just like your Golden Eagles. I suppose that you're wondering how they managed to ascend to the Top 20 without any impressive wins. Well, sometimes the TFL rankings don't match up with how the Inside Lacrosse voters see the world. The Wildcats have played four teams that were ranked at the time of the game, and they've come away with a 2-2 record. They lost their opener to #5 Johns Hopkins, then secured wins against #17 Penn State and at #20 Penn during a five game winning streak before dropping an 11-2 decision to #8 Maryland last Saturday.
I think what VU's offense has accomplished is fairly impressive. As we've gone through highlighting each team's scoring leaders, we've seen the same names pop up on multiple lines. That's not the case with Villanova. Curran leads everyone in points with 14 goals and seven assists, but neither total gets him to the top of each individual stat. Seibel and Curran both rank amongst the 10 best goal scorers in the Big East, while Cerrone is tied for the most helpers in the league.