MLAX Minute: Top Seed at Stake in Denver

Dan Willis and Villanova look to rebound off Saturday's loss at St. John's with games against Johns Hopkins and Providence this week.

Dan Willis and Villanova look to rebound off Saturday's loss at St. John's with games against Johns Hopkins and Providence this week.

April 22, 2014

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NEW YORK – It was just three short months ago at the BIG EAST’s seven head coaches made their predictions for the 2014 season when voting on the preseason poll.

Now the final week of the regular season is here, and teams are one step away from either a chance at postseason success or the offseason.

Marquette punched its BIG EAST Tournament ticket with a come-from-behind 11-10 overtime win over Georgetown Saturday. Down 9-3, the Golden Eagles finished the game with an 8-1 run capped off by Ryan McNamara’s unassisted strike at 3:06 of the extra session.

While the Golden Eagles were wrapping up their postseason berth in suburban Milwaukee, another team was resuscitating its own playoff chances. Kieran McArdle’s overtime goal finished off a back-and-forth affair in Queens with St. John’s defeating Villanova by, coincidentally, the same 11-10 score.

Two non-conference games are on this week’s slate, with Villanova headed to No. 7/5 John’s Hopkins Wednesday and the Johnnies visiting Penn Friday, with both games facing off at 7 p.m. Saturday’s three BIG EAST battles are Rutgers at Georgetown at noon, Providence visiting Villanova at 1 p.m. and Denver hosting Marquette at 2 p.m.

BIG EAST Notebook

The third of three conference battles this weekend pits Denver against Marquette Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Rocky Mountain State. The winner leaves Peter Barton Stadium with the No. 1 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament. It’s a remarkable opportunity for Marquette, which is fresh off clinching a tourney berth in its first season. It’s also a first for Denver, which has qualified for its first BIG EAST Tournament in its first season in the conference. If Marquette wins, Denver will lock in as the No. 2 seed. If Denver wins, then Marquette can fall to either the No. 2 or 3 seed depending on other weekend results.



Saturday’s noon game in Washington, D.C., features two teams facing varied immediate futures. On the one hand there’s Rutgers, which qualifies for the BIG EAST Tournament with a victory. On the other is Georgetown, which saw a 9-3 second-half lead evaporate in an overtime loss at Marquette that dashed its postseason chances. A Georgetown wins not only ends Rutgers’ season but also puts St. John’s into the BIG EAST Tournament.

With apologies to Tom Petty, St. John’s might be singing something along the lines of “The waiting is the hardest part” this weekend. The Red Storm finished BIG EAST play with last Saturday’s 11-10 overtime win over Villanova in a do-or-die situation for their season. Now the Johnnies get ready for a non-conference game at Penn Friday, but must sit back and let everything play out Saturday to see if they will earn a bid to the BIG EAST playoff. It goes without saying that the Johnnies will be huge Hoya fans Saturday, as a Georgetown win is St. John’s only path to the conference tournament.

Villanova has a big week ahead. Wednesday’s game at nationally-ranked Johns Hopkins gives the Wildcats a marquee game against a potential NCAA Tournament team. It’s a great opportunity for Villanova to attempt to improve its resume entering the postseason. After meeting with the Blue Jays, head coach Mike Corrado’s group returns home to host Providence Saturday at 1 p.m. A win guarantees it no worse than the BIG EAST’s third seed, but the Wildcats can move up to No. 2 with a win plus a Denver victory over Marquette. If Villanova loses to the Friars and Georgetown beats Rutgers, then it falls to the No. 4 seed with St. John's moving up to third.

Denver remains the sole BIG EAST team in the two major polls this week. The Pios are holding firm at No. 3 in both the USILA coaches voting at the Warrior Inside Lacrosse media poll.

Tickets for the BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Tournament are currently on sale through Villanova. Fans can head here to purchase. Game times are 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. for the semifinals on Thursday, May 1, while the Saturday, May 3 championship game will take place at 4:30 p.m.

Villanova’s John LoCascio is one of 10 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. Voting is currently open to the public for the Senior CLASS Award and accounts for one-third of the total ballots. The remaining two-thirds come from coaches and media members. To vote once a day for up to three student-athletes for the award, click here.

Entering its first season in the BIG EAST, Denver was tabbed the preseason favorite in January in voting conducted by the league's seven head coaches. With two appearances in the national semifinals in the last three seasons, the Pioneers topped the poll with 36 points and six first-place votes. St. John's was next with 31 points and the last first-plate ballot. The rest of the poll was filled out by Villanova (25 points), Georgetown (22), Providence (12), Rutgers (12) and Marquette (9).

Villanova University will host the 2014 BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Tournament on Thursday/Saturday, May 1/3 from Villanova Stadium. The top four teams in the regular-season standings will advance to the tournament, with the semifinals playing out Thursday. The two advancing teams will meet on Saturday with the conference title and automatic NCAA Tournament berth on the line. FOX Sports 1 will televise the championship game at 4:30 p.m. ET.