Team on top: Denver has qualified for the last five NCAA tournaments, but "only" has three Final Four appearances to show as its best results. That could change this spring as the Pioneers are the undisputed No. 1 team in many preseason rankings. The program graduated just one starter from the squad that lost to eventual national champion Duke in the tournament semifinals, and an offense that ranked third in Division I in scoring last year at 13.2 goals per game got even stronger with the transfer of Maryland sophomore attackman Connor Cannizzaro (26 goals and eight assists in 2014).

Team on the rise: In its inaugural season in league, Marquette went 4-2 in the Big East to earn the No. 2 seed in last May's conference tournament. The Golden Eagles will try to prove that they are no one-year wonders, and they appear to have the players to back up that assignment. The team returns four of its top six scorers, all three starting defensemen and its starting goalkeeper.

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Team on the decline: A program that has caught the eyes of observers with some notable non-conference wins in recent years, St. John's failed to parlay those successes into NCAA tournament appearances. The cupboard appears even barer this spring after the graduation of the Red Storm's top four scorers from last season, including the school's all-time leader in goals, assists and points in attackman Kieran McArdle. The defense does return a couple pieces, but that unit could be hard-pressed to reduce the 11.9 goals opponents averaged last spring.

Prime-time player: Wesley Berg recorded 48 goals and 20 assists in 2014, but that was only good enough to earn him a spot on the All-American third team. That should change this year as the Pioneers senior attackman has the talent to move up to the first team. With teammates like junior attackman Jack Bobzien (42, 21) and sophomore attackman Zach Miller (38, 19), Berg should exceed those numbers this year.

Underrated player: Georgetown's Tyler Knarr ranked third in the country by winning 65.9 percent of his faceoffs, but the offense failed to take advantage of Knarr's success. The Hoyas may get another crack thanks to Harvard transfer Gabriel Mendola. The fifth-year senior won 52.4 percent of his draws for the Big Red in 2014. While that percentage ranked 35th in the nation, it would have tied Denver sophomore Chris Hampton for the best mark in the Big East.

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