2013 College Defenders in US Tryouts

With the tryouts just days away for Team USA, here is a brief look at the defensemen who participated in the college game in 2013.

LSM

  • Jesse Bernhardt (Maryland):  Bernhardt has been the posterboy of Florida lacrosse, having been named a first-team All-American for his efforts his senior year at Maryland.  He recently helped lead the Bayhawks to their second straight MLL championship.  Bernhardt is a proven winner who is as solid as any covering one-on-one above the goal and will receive strong consideration.
  • Luke Duprey (Duke):  Duprey was a vital part of the Duke turnaround.  The Duke defense, once ranked in the bottom 10 in the nation, finished 31st for the season and was a vital reason why Duke was able to win it all.  He ranked 16th on the Player Impact Ratings.
  • John LoCascio (Villanova):  ”J-Lo” is considered to be one of the less known players on the tryout list.  His opponents in the Big East know him well, as the junior lead the nation with 53 caused turnovers and was one of four players with a perfect Laxbytes’ Player Impact Rating.  
  • Mason Poli (Bryant):  While Poli did not have many groundball opportunities on Bryant with FOGO Kevin Massa winning over 3/4 of face-off wins to himself, Poli did dominate the wings, helping Bryant to win 55% of face-offs not decided by FOGOs.
  • Scott Ratliff (Loyola): Like Bernhardt, Ratliff is a proven winner and is now featured in the MLL.

SSDM

  • Chris LaPierre (Virginia):  Injuries limited LaPierre’s season but, when healthy, he is considered a premiere SSDM in the college ranks.  
  • Josh Hawkins (Loyola):  Hawkins was part of a Loyola defense that was involved one-sixth of offensive possessions and had the 8th best shooting percentage.  Hawkins is the definition of a transition threat and is willing to take risks.  He could be considered for a bench spot for Team USA if they are in need of a late spark in a game.
  • Landon Carr (Maryland):  A member of the Outlaws in the MLL, Carr was part of an 8th ranked defense at Maryland in 2013 that, due to the ability of its defenders, did not have to slide as often as most teams.

Close Defensemen

  • Tucker Durkin (Johns Hopkins):  Durkin was part of the #2 ranked defense at Hopkins in 2013 and was an All-MLL player as a rookie this year.  I see no reason why the physical Durkin should be left off of this roster.
  • Brett Schmidt (Mt. St. Mary’s):  While Mount St. Mary’s did struggle this year, Schmidt is a talented defender who got significant playing time this summer in the MLL.
  • Brian Megill (Syracuse):  Megill ranked in the top 20 of lax bytes’ PIR.  He has spent a significant portion of his career covering top attackmen and was part of a Denver team that went undefeated during the MLL regular season.
  • Joe Fletcher (Loyola):  Fletcher might be one of the more underrated defensemen in college.  The close defense of Loyola, led by Fletcher, held opposing attackmen to the fewest GBs of any unit in 2013.  If Loyola defeated Duke, they certainly had the talent to make it two straight.
  • Goran Murray (Maryland):  When Murray’s college career is over, he will have covered the opposition’s #1 attackman for almost all of it.  He is less aggressive than the average defender but has decent speed side-to-side and plays a very controlled style.  Maryland is traditionally a top 10 defense and with Murray in town, expect more of the same this year.
  • Chris Hipps (Duke):  Hipps, like Turri and Duprey, was a vital reason why Duke was able to turn its defense around and win.
  • Mike McCormack (Yale):  McCormack was tied with Chris Piccirilli of Villanova for most points by a close defensemen.  His PIR of 87 ranked 11th in the nation, according to Lax Bytes.  He was the #1 defenseman on a top 5 Yale defense that nearly knocked out Syracuse.

Goalie

  • Niko Amato (Maryland):  While the high-energy Amato has a tendency to give up rebounds, he has been an integral part of a defense at Maryland that consistently was top 10 during his career.
  • Jamie Faus (Denver):  Faus, part of the two-goalie system in Denver, was part of a defense that held opposing offenses to just 23% of total rebound opportunities off of saves, 4th fewest in the nation.
  • Austin Kaut (PSU):  First Team All-American Austin Kaut was part of a defense that ranked 3rd in the nation, had the 2nd highest save % and gave up the 10th fewest second chance opportunities off of saves.  He is as fundamentally sound as any goalie I saw in 2013.
  • Kyle Turri (Duke):  Duke surrendered the 16th fewest second-chance opportunities off of saves in 2013.

Week 13 Bracketology

More analysis to come later, just wanted to get this out for @Sexytimelax.

 

1. North Carolina v Bryant (NE)
2. Notre Dame v Marist (MAAC)
3. Cornell (Ivy) v Albany (American East)
4. Denver v Ohio State
5. Penn State (CAA) v Villanvoa (Big East)
6. Syracuse v Lehigh (PL)
7. Loyola (ECAC) v Duke
8. Maryland v Bucknell

Last Four Out
1. Yale (13): The winner of the Yale v. Penn game could pass the loser of the Loyola v. Ohio State game.
2. Pennsylvania (12): Brackets that have Syracuse winning the B.E. most likely have Penn in as the last team.
3. Drexel (15): Drexel will most likely need to win the CAA to reach the tournament. A win against Towson is not likely to improve their position.
4. Johns Hopkins (17): It will take a miracle for this team to make the tournament.

Bracketology: Week 12

WEEK 12

Automatic Bids

American East Conference
Most likely: Albany (4-0)
Others: UMBC, Stony Brook, Hartford

Big East Conference

Most likely: Notre Dame (4-1), Villanova (4-1), Syracuse (4-1)
Others: St. John’s, Georgetown
Notre Dame matches up with Syracuse this weekend with an opportunity to claim the top seed in the Big East tournament and add another top 10 win.

Colonial Athletic Conference
Most likely: Penn State (5-0), Drexel (5-1)
Others: Towson, Hofstra
Penn State has clinched the top seed in the CAA tournament which starts 5/3.

Eastern College Athletic Conference
Most likely: Loyola (6-1), Denver (5-1)
Others: Denver, Fairfield
Fairfield took down #1 Denver this weekend in a game that reshapes this ECAC race.  

Ivy Group
Most likely: Cornell (5-0)
Others: Princeton, Yale, Penn
This is Cornell’s AQ to lose.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Most likely: Marist (5-0)
Others: Jacksonville, Siena
Marist avoided an upset this weekend with an overtime win against Siena.  

Northeast Conference
Most likely: Bryant (3-1), Quinnipiac (3-1), Sacred Heart (3-1)
Others: Robert Morris
Mount St. Mary’s took down Bryant for its first conference win this season.  That certainly opens things up here.

Patriot League
Most likely: Lehigh (6-0), Bucknell (5-1)
Others: Army, Colgate
Lehigh continued to roll this weekend, defeating Lafayette.  They have now won 5 straight.

At-Large Bids (RPI in parenthesis)
1. Denver (1): Even with the loss, this team is a lock for the tournament.
2. Maryland (2): Maryland barely squeaked by Yale this weekend in what was a controversial finish. This team is trending down.
3. UNC (4): ACC tournament will solidify the order of these at-large bids.
4. Duke (7): After the ACC tournament, Duke has Marquette won won their home opener.
5. Bucknell (8): Bucknell shut out Colgate in the 4th to pick up an impressive late-April road win. They face Army next.
6. Syracuse (10): Syracuse has its eyes on the #1 seed in the BE tournament. It needs a win against ND and a Villanova loss. A ND win would also give ‘Cuse a Top 5 win.
7. Yale (11): Yale barely missed a great opportunity to improve its at-large resume this weekend. The loss snapped its 5 game winning streak.
8. Pennsylvania (14): If Harvard beats Yale this weekend, Penn would be out of the Ivy tournament. That would mean the Bellarmine game would be Penn’s last regular season game and would leave it as a must-win.

Last Four Out:
1. Johns Hopkins (16): This team will be in the tournament when it is all said and done. Still, Hopkins is starting to see the importance of an AQ as the number of at-large bids diminishes.
2. Ohio State (12): Ohio State now has a chance at a top 20 win against Fairfield this weekend.
3. Drexel (15): Drexel won this week but will see its RPI fall next week against High Point.
4. Princeton (18): Princeton clinched a spot in the Ivy tournament. Now, they have Cornell this weekend.

Possession Margins Fuel Conference Races

“Without the ball, you can’t win.”

These words, spoken by soccer legend Johan Cruyff, hold some validity in the sport of lacrosse as well. In the eight conferences with automatic qualifiers, the current leaders outpossess their opponents. Some teams, like Cornell (first in the nation in possession-margin) and Bryant (fourth) outpossess their opponents by over 4.5 possessions per game. Other teams, like Lehigh and Villanova, do not hold as high of a margin on the season, but have been getting it done in conference games (+4.2, +3.75 per game, respectively). Still, it may not be surprising to hear that the eight teams currently leading their respective conferences have been amongst the best in outpossessing opponents.

So what factors lead to a positive possession margin?

Face-off play has the greatest impact on possession margin of all of the statistics currently kept. Luckily for the eight teams leading their conferences, five of them have a face-off specialist that ranks in the top 25 nationally in win percentage.

One face-off specialist that particularly stands out is Bryant’s Kevin Massa. Thanks to Massa and the wing play of guys like longstick Mason Poli, Bryant leads the nation in adjusted face-off win percentage. But what is also impressive is that Massa has the highest groundball-to-face-off win ratio in the nation. This unofficial statistic has been mentioned by some of the great face-off specialists over the past 10 years, particularly Alex Smith, Dan Kallaugher and David Tamberrino, who point to it as a great metric for measuring FOGOs and their ability to control possession by winning the ball to themselves. For Bryant, Kevin Massa is a special player that allows them to win the possession battle and to ultimately win games.

Cornell and Villanova also have two top face-off specialists in Doug Tesoriero and Tom Croonquist. These two junior midfielders are not only great at winning the draw to themselves, but also do a great job of utilizing their wings, which rank in the top 10 among face-off units in groundballs off face-offs.

“I think that when we have success with our face-off unit, it’s because we do a great job making it a 3-v-3 game,” Cornell assistant Paul Richards said. “Doug has done an amazing job becoming a well-rounded face-off guy who isn’t just all-or-nothing on his initial move. When he is on, Doug can put the ball anywhere he wants, to himself or to his wings. More importantly, he’s developed the ability to react and get wing play involved when we have lost the draw at the X. We really stress groundball play more than anything and I think our unit has embraced that.”

Even when Doug Tesoriero loses a face-off, he has players on the wings like longstick middie Thomas Keith who are capable of regaining possession. As Richards puts it, “We also stress intelligent pressure on the ball and creating turnovers if the other team has picked it up. The biggest key for us isn’t whether or not we win the statistical face-off, but who has the ball in the end.”

Just as Cornell’s Tesoriero, currently ranked 13th in the nation in face-off percentage, has embraced groundball play, so too has Villanova’s Tom Croonquist. Croonquist, who won an astonishing 22 of 24 face-offs in a win over Syracuse that helped spark the ’Cats’ current run, also ranks in the top 20 in face-off percentage. But what makes him truly special is his ability to give Villanova possession even if he does not win the draw.

“Tom is great on the draw, but he is also big, strong and athletic, so he does a phenomenal job creating loose ball situations after a face-off loss,” said Villanova Associate Head Coach Simon Connor.

Villanova, like Cornell, also has great wing play. On one side, Villanova has John LoCascio, who is quickly emerging as one of the most intimidating players in college lacrosse. Simon Connor described junior longstick as “one of the best poles we’ve ever had, especially on GBs in tight spaces.” On the other side, Villanova has shortstick d-middie Jimmy Wyatt who, as Connor puts it, “is fast, tough and great at anticipating on the wings.” With players like Massa, Tesoriero, Croonquist and the others described, it is no wonder that Bryant, Cornell and Villanova have been able to generate positive possession margins and win conference games.

Face-offs are not the only way to win the possession margin.

For some teams, their ability to clear effectively and ride hard is what allows them to create an advantage in the possession battle. In the MAAC, Marist ranks 11th in possession margin. Led by senior attackman Connor Rice, part of what allows Marist to win the battle is the fact that they rank top 10 in both clearing and riding.

“I think the success we’ve seen was in our program’s commitment in the fall to develop our defenders’ skillsets, both with the ball and in their understanding of our clearing principles,” Red Foxes coach Keegan Wilkinson says.

Marist, a top 15 offense, also ranks fifth in riding percentage.

“Schematically, we are doing things in the riding game a bit different from last year to take advantage of the new rules and our overall athleticism,” Wilkinson says. “But the foundation of our success this year is having a group of guys committed to working very hard at the conclusion of our offensive possessions.”

The ability to finish possessions is another factor that leads to a high possession margin. Offensive efficiency has been the catalyst of possession margin for ECAC-leader Denver and America East-leader Albany.

Denver and Albany both rank top 5 in offensive efficiency, although they are different stylistically. For Denver, the top offense in the nation, much of the credit has to be given to offensive coordinator Matt Brown and his guys.

“Our offensive efficiency is entirely due to Matt Brown, our offensive coordinator, and our players,” said head coach Bill Tierney. “We do not accept sloppiness on the offensive end in practice, which leads to guys taking good shots, not necessarily the first shot. We do a lot of shooting in practice, within the framework of our offense, which helps as well.”

Meanwhile, for Albany, a lot of the credit for their offensive success and clearing abilities has to be given to the midfielders and the scheme.

Albany assistant Eric Wolf says, “We ask a lot of our midfielders to be two way guys… We will push the ball in almost any situation going from defense to offense.”

This transition offense has allowed Albany to be among the leaders in offensive efficiency and create a large possession margin in conference play.

But just as scoring on offense can lead to a high possession margin, so too can saving the ball and limiting second chance opportunities.

Not only do CAA leader Penn State and Patriot League leader Lehigh have great face-off specialists in Danny Henneghan and Ryan Snyder, but they also have goalies that are among the leaders in save percentage and save control percentage; Penn State’s Austin Kaut and Lehigh’s Matt Poillon both rank in the top seven in save percentage. They are also among the top 15 in the fewest second chance opportunities off of saves.

Face-offs, clearing, rides, offensive and defensive efficiency are among the ways to limit an opponent’s opportunities and win a game. The eight teams described have been amongst the best in their conferences in doing these things and have put themselves in great positions for AQs.

Bracketology: Week 11

 

04152013

Yale avoided a potentially disaster loss last night with its overtime win against Stony Brook. This week, they are featured on the potential bracket for the first time since we began this feature midseason.

Automatic Bids

American East Conference
Most likely: Albany (3-0), Hartford (2-1)
Others: UMBC, Stony Brook
Albany looks to be in cruise control, scoring over 20 goals in every single conference game so far.

Big East Conference
Most likely: Villanova (4-0), Notre Dame (3-1), Syracuse (3-1)
Others: St. John’s, Georgetown
Villanova travels up to ND this weekend. Villanova has the chance to clinch the top seed in the tournament. ND still has to play Syracuse while Nova still has Providence.

Colonial Athletic Conference
Most likely: Penn State (4-0), Towson (3-1), Drexel (4-1)
Others: Hofstra
Penn State took down Drexel and Towson in consecutive weeks to improve to 4-0. They will finish the season on the road against UDel and Hofstra.

Eastern College Athletic Conference
Most likely: Denver (5-0), Loyola (5-1), Ohio State (3-2)
Others: Fairfield
After entering the Top 20 for the first time in program history, Bellarmine’s tournament chances took a big hit with a loss to Hobart. Meanwhile, Denver salvaged a win in overtime against Loyola to improve to 5-0 in the conference.

Ivy Group
Most likely: Cornell (4-0), Yale (3-2)
Others: Princeton, Harvard
Perhaps no conference changed as much as this conference did this weekend. Yale picked up wins against Brown and Stony Brook over the past couple of days. The big story, however, are the two upsets. Princeton’s at-large hopes took a big hit with a loss to Dartmouth. Meanwhile, Harvard moves into a position to potentially knock Penn out of the Ivy tournament.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Most likely: Marist (4-0)
Others: Jacksonville, Siena
Only one team will make it from this conference. Marist won a critical road game against Jacksonville to move one step closer to the NCAA tournament.

Northeast Conference
Most likely: Bryant (3-0)
Others: Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, SHU
Kevin Massa and Bryant picked up a 15-6 win against Wagner. They still have Mount St. Mary’s and SHU left in conference play.

Patriot League
Most likely: Lehigh (5-0), Bucknell (4-1)
Others: Colgate, Army
Lehigh is the talk of the Patriot League now after they took down Bucknell 11-7 on the road.

At-Large Bids (RPI in parenthesis)
1. North Carolina (3): UNC handled Hofstra soundly 14-5 to all but end Hofstra’s hopes at an at-large bid.
2. Syracuse (4): Syracuse came back from down 10-5 in the 4th to defeat Rutgers on Saturday.
3. Duke (7): Duke has the longest winning streak in the nation and has all but locked another appearance.
4. Maryland (8): Maryland dropped its rivalry match against Hopkins this weekend. The offense has now failed to score 10 goals in 3 of the past 4 games.
5. Loyola (10): The ECAC can still put 2, if not 3 teams in the NCAA tournament. Loyola still has a critical at-large contest against Hopkins to end its regular season.
6. Penn (9): Penn is now in jeopardy of missing out on the Ivy tournament. They still have Dartmouth on its schedule and have a critical out of conference matchup against Bellarmine. This team may be on the way out.
7. Yale (12): As noted, Yale picked up two big wins this weekend. Meanwhile, Princeton has gone from borderline hosting a first round game to not even being in the discussion with its loss to Dartmouth.
8. Johns Hopkins (16): Johns Hopkins dropped its contest against Navy in astonishing fashion last season. This game should not be overlooked for the squad that recently improved its resume with a win over then-ranked #1 Maryland.

Last Four Out:
1. Bucknell (13): It appears to be a down year for the Patriot League. Its regular season finale against Colgate could not only help its PL seeding but also improve its at large chances.
2. Villanova (20): Villanova took down St. John’s on the road to add its second top 20 win. Villanova’s at-large hopes come down to this weekend against ND. The game could also improve its AQ chances by giving it the #1 seed in the BE tournament.
3. Ohio State (14): Ohio State’s RPI dropped after playing Michigan this weekend. This team has a critical road game this weekend against Air Force.
4. Drexel (15): Drexel will play Towson this weekend, but will then face High Point in what will certainly crush its RPI.

Bracketology Week 10

04082013

 

I apologize for leaving the Northeast Conference out of the AQ section last week.  There are eight AQs this year, not 7.

Automatic Bids

American East Conference
Most likely: Albany (2-0), Stony Brook (1-1), Hartford (1-1)
Others: Binghamton, UMBC

Big East Conference
Most likely: Villanova (3-0), Notre Dame (2-1), Syracuse (2-1), Georgetown (2-1)
Others: St. John’s

Colonial Athletic Conference
Most likely: Penn State (3-0), Towson (3-0), Drexel (3-1)
Others: Hofstra, St. Joseph’s

Eastern College Athletic Conference
Most likely: Loyola* (5-0), Denver (4-0), Bellarmine (3-3)
Others: Fairfield, Ohio State, Air Force

Ivy Group
Most likely: Cornell (4-0), Princeton (2-1)
Others: Pennsylvania, Brown, Yale Harvard

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Most likely: Marist (3-0), Jacksonville (4-0)
Others: Siena, Canisius, Detroit

Northeast Conference
Most likely: Bryant (2-0), Sacred Heart (2-0)
Others: Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, Mount St. Mary’s

Patriot League
Most likely: Bucknell (4-0), Lehigh (4-0), Colgate (2-2), Army (2-2)
Others: Holy Cross

At-Large Bids (RPI in parenthesis)

  1. Maryland (4): Maryland put together a solid second half against Navy to improve to 8-1.  Since Maryland’s game against Stony Brook, Maryland has not scored more than 11 goals in a game.  They have a chance to all but end Johns Hopkins’ season Saturday with a win.
  2. Denver (2): Denver will travel to Loyola (5-0 in conference) this weekend for a game that will determine the #1 seed in the conference tournament.  Both of these teams have played their way into at-large conversation (for now, I have Loyola pencilled in as favorite to win their conference).  Denver is 2-1 in OT this year and 3-1 in one-goal games.
  3. North Carolina (5): North Carolina disposed of Virginia this weekend to improve to 2-1 in conference play.  They will now travel to Hofstra this weekend.
  4. Duke (6): Duke is once again making a major run late in the season, winning 7 straight.  They are 1-1 in the ACC and face a struggling Virginia squad this weekend.
  5. Syracuse (11): Syracuse picked up another quality win this weekend as they came from behind to beat Princeton.  The schedule does not get much easier for Syracuse, who will face Cornell on Wednesday.
  6. Penn (3): Penn disposed of a solid Brown squad 10-3 this weekend to end their two-game skid.  This team has a solid chance of being 8-3 before playing its season finale against Bellarmine.   It is interesting to note that this squad leads the nation in EMO this season.
  7. Princeton (13): Princeton dropped their third game of the year Saturday against Syracuse.  All three losses have been to quality teams and have been by one goal.  This team makes a short trip to Rutgers tomorrow in looks of getting win #7.
  8. Ohio State (9): The Buckeyes improved to 7-3 this weekend with a win against Hobart on the Big Ten Network.  From the parts of the game that I watched, Jesse King appears to initiate a decent percentage of this offense.  This team will travel to Michigan in the hopes of picking up win #8 this weekend.

On the outside

  1. Yale (14):  Yale is currently 17th in the poll.  Yale’s last two games against Providence and Dartmouth, despite being wins, did lower their RPI.  
  2. St. John’s (16): St. John’s suffered a catastrophic loss to Georgetown on Saturday.  What’s worse is that goalie Lowman might be out for significant time after suffering what was called a concussion in the game.  A loss to Villanova on Saturday could be devastating for St. John’s, who already had 2 losses in conference play.
  3. Drexel (17): Despite being 8-3, Drexel was dealt a huge blow in a 13-6 loss to PSU on Saturday.  Drexel could string together wins against Mass, Towson and High Point to improve to 11-3.  Still, it is looking less and less likely that two CAA teams will make the tournament.
  4. Lehigh (18): This squad is on the rise with a good conference win against rival Colgate on Saturday.
  5. Hofstra (19): Hofstra has a great opportunity to improve its resume with the game against UNC this weekend.
  6. Villanova (21): Villanova has quietly won 3 of 4 and is now receiving top 20 votes.  They have a big game against SJU this weekend that would allow them to clinch a spot in the conference tournament.
  7. Johns Hopkins (22): It is do-or-die for the Blue Jays as they travel to Maryland this weekend.  I think this could be the game where OC Benson’s offense finally breaks out.
  8. Bellarmine (23): Bellarmine took Denver to two OTs this weekend and caught a lot of attention in the process.
  9. Towson (26): This team has leapt out to a 3-0 started in conference play.  They travel to PSU this weekend in what will be the biggest game of the year.

Bracketology Week 9

Automatic Bids

American East Conference

  • Most likely:  Albany (17), Stony Brook (28), Hartford (38)
  • Others:  Binghamton, UMBC, Vermont

Big East Conference

  • Most likely: Notre Dame (1), Syracuse (12), St. John’s (8), Villanova (25)
  • Others:  Georgetown, Rutgers, Providence

Colonial Athletic Conference

  • Most likely: Penn State (15), Drexel (16), Towson (29)
  • Others: Hofstra, Delaware, Saint Joseph’s, Massachusetts

Eastern College Athletic Conference

  • Most likely: Denver (4), Loyola (13), Fairfield (30)
  • Others: Bellarmine, Ohio State, Air Force, Hobart, Michigan

Ivy Group

  • Most likely: Cornell (6), Princeton (10)
  • Others: Pennsylvania, Brown, Yale Harvard, Dartmouth

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

  • Most likely: Marist (26), Jacksonville (34)
  • Others: Siena, Canisius, Detroit, Manhattan, VMI

Patriot League

  • Most likely: Bucknell (14), Lehigh (24), Colgate (27)
  • Others: Army, Holy Cross, Navy, Lafayette

 

At-Large Bids

  1. Maryland (2):  Maryland has road wins against Loyola (#1 at time), Duke (#10 at time) and Virginia (18th).
  2. UNC (3): UNC has now won 4 straight and has wins over #10 Hopkins and #1 Maryland.
  3. Duke (5): Duke has now won 6 straight and has one more ranked opponent, Virginia, left until the conference tournament.  UNC and Loyola remain Duke’s only two quality wins.
  4. Pennsylvania (7): Penn has now lost 2 straight after dropping an overtime game to Yale.  They will continue to root for Duke just as they did in 2011 when they made the NCAA tournament.
  5. St. John’s (8): St. John’s went to ND this weekend and handed the Irish their 2nd home loss of the season.  This team has as deadly an attack as their is.
  6. Ohio State (9): This team is beginning to fall, dropping two out of three.  Ohio State has top 20 wins against PSU and Virginia.  This team could still win 10 games prior to the ECAC tournament which would be tough to argue against.
  7. Princeton (10): Princeton also has a top 10 win against JHU as well as a top 20 win against Hofstra.  Princeton will host Syracuse this weekend in a contest that will help shape up this race.
  8. Syracuse (12):  Syracuse has one top 10 win against JHU and two quality wins against Virginia and St. John’s with two losses to non-ranked opponents.  As noted, the game against Princeton this weekend will be huge.
  9. Loyola (13):  Loyola has held its last two opponents to just 7 goals.  At 8-2, it looks like Loyola is on pace to return to the tournament.

 

On the Outside

  • Yale (11):  Their contest against Maryland on 4/20 might be a must-win.
  • Drexel (16): Drexel avoided disaster against Delaware this weekend. They have a big game against PSU this weekend.
  • Virginia  (20): They clawed back but could not complete the comeback against MD.
  • Hopkins (21): A heartbreaking loss to UNC this weekend.
  • Hofstra (19): This team will most likely need the conference tournament to make it.
  • UMass (18):  Bad loss to St. Joseph’s this weekend.

 

Potential match-ups:

  1. Maryland v Marist
  2. Denver v Bucknell
  3. Cornell v Albany
  4. Notre Dame v Ohio State
  5. Duke v Penn State
  6. North Carolina v Loyola
  7. St. John’s v Princeton
  8. Pennsylvania v Syracuse

Please feel free to leave any suggestions or questions you may have.

Tuesday (3/26) Game Previews

Holy Cross @ Vermont 3PM
Vermont, whose attack has scored 65% of its goals, will host Holy Cross, who currently ranks 6th in man down defense.

Siena @ Cornell 4PM
This is sure to be a high scoring game as Siena (3rd in possession per 60 minutes) travels to Cornell (5th). Opposing attackmen are shooting 36% against Siena, who will look to slow down Tewaaraton favorite Rob Pannell this afternoon.

Dartmouth @ Hofstra 4PM
Hofstra, currently a bubble team, will look to improve their resume against Dartmouth, who currently ranks 56th in adjusted face-off %.

Air Force @ Denver 6PM
PPD

Providence @ Bryant 7PM
Providence’s losing streak is now at three games after dropping Saturday’s contest against Siena. They will look to break the streak against Bryant, who is the top face-off team at this point.

Albany @ Harvard 7PM
Two contrasting styles on display here, as Albany (1st in pace) travels to Harvard (55th). Harvard’s defense currently ranks 21st and will look to slow down a prolific Albany offense.

Penn State @ Bucknell 7:30PM
I currently project both of these teams in the field of sixteen for May’s tournament. Penn State’s loaded attack, led by freshman standout TJ Sanders, will look have to adjust to the unique slide-first defense of Bucknell. Bucknell is virtually unbeatable in mid-week games and will look to use a 10-man ride (1st in riding) against Penn State, who ranks 6th in clearing.

Adjusted FO%

Phillylacrosse.com

Villanova’s Tom Croonquist made headlines as he broke school records with his face-off play Saturday, winning 22 of 24, as the ‘Cats knocked off Syracuse 11-10.  When Croonquist was not winning to himself or forcing his opponent to jump early, he was winning it to LSM John LoCascio, SSDM Jimmy Wyatt and his other wings.  Such dominant face-off performances allow teams to gain edges in the number of possessions in a particular game.

Below is a list of the top five teams in adjusted FO % (adjusted based on the strength of opposing teams’ face-off play):

  1. Bryant (64%): After being named the Northeast Conference and NEILA rookie of the year in 2012, Kevin Massa has come back more dominant than before, winning 69% of face-offs to date.  This dominance has attributed to Bryant’s +3.6 possession margin per game.  
  2. Duke (63%): Brendan Fowler has already racked up 111 GB and is second to Massa in GB/game.  Duke has the second fewest face-offs decided by wings, implying that the majority of face-offs are won by Fowler himself.
  3. Maryland (62%): Rafta has scored four goals and one assist this season or approximately one point every 14.4 face-off wins.  Maryland currently ranks 4th in the nation in face-off percentage and still may be the most complete team in college lacrosse despite the loss to UNC.
  4. Villanova (61%):  As noted above, Junior FOGO Tom Croonquist had a career day on his birthday in a win over ‘Cuse.  Croonquist’s GB/face-off win ratio is 52%, which ranks 14th in the nation.  Meanwhile, his wings are winning approximately 60% of the face-offs not won by Tom or the opposing FOGO.  While this team still ranks 34th in possession margin, they look to be a legitimate threat in the Big East.
  5. Johns Hopkins (60%): Johns Hopkins ranks 2nd in the nation in possession margin at +6.25 a game.  Poppleton leads the nation in face-off percentage and, on a team of some of the top recruits in the nation, might be the most valuable Blue Jay.

Bracketology, Week 8

Here is the first look at the teams in contention for the NCAA tournament (teams RPI in parenthesis):

Automatic Bids

American East Conference

  • Most likely:  Albany (21), Stony Brook (37), Binghamton (32)
  • Others:  Hartford, UMBC, Vermont

Big East Conference

  • Most likely: Notre Dame (1), Syracuse (9), St. John’s (16), Villanova (23)
  • Others:  Georgetown, Rutgers, Providence

Colonial Athletic Conference

  • Most likely: Penn State (14), UMass (12), Drexel (13), Hofstra (15)
  • Others: Towson, Delaware, Saint Joseph’s

Eastern College Athletic Conference

  • Most likely: Denver (3), Ohio State (8), Loyola (17)
  • Others: Bellarmine, Fairfield, Air Force, Hobart, Michigan

Ivy Group

  • Most likely: Cornell (2), Penn (4), Princeton (10), Brown (18), Yale (19)
  • Others: Harvard, Dartmouth

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

  • Most likely: Quinnipiac (40), Robert Morris (29), Mount St. Mary’s (31)
  • Others: Wagner, Bryant, Sacred Heart

Patriot League

  • Most likely: Bucknell (11), Lehigh (24), Colgate (25)
  • Others: Army, Holy Cross, Navy, Lafayette

 

At-Large Bids

  1. Maryland (5):  Maryland has road wins against Loyola (#1 at time) and Duke (#10 at time).  Maryland will travel to Virginia this weekend, who is in need of a quality win.
  2. Ohio State (8): Ohio State has top 20 wins against PSU and Virginia and losses to Denver (#4) and ND (now #1).  It looks likely that the ECAC will produce 2 or 3 teams.
  3. Pennsylvania (8): Penn defeated the current #10 Duke at the beginning of the season.  Like 2011, this team will definitely benefit from that early win.  Pennsylvania has now lost to Cornell, who may be on the fast track to the Ivy Group championship.  Penn is currently 1-1 in conference play and has five straight games against conference opponents.
  4. UNC (6): UNC went 2-0 this week after knocking off then-#1 Maryland.  UNC’s next four games are all against currently ranked opponents, giving this team a chance to continue to improve its resume.
  5. Duke (7): Duke has now won 5 straight and has one more ranked opponent, Virginia, left until the conference tournament.  UNC and Loyola remain Duke’s only two quality wins.
  6. Syracuse (9): Syracuse’s quest for the #1 seed in the B.E. tournament took a major hit with the loss to Wildcats Saturday.  Syracuse has one top 10 win against JHU and two quality wins against Virginia and St. John’s with two losses to non-ranked opponents.
  7. Princeton (10): Princeton also has a top 10 win against JHU as well as a top 20 win against Hofstra.  Princeton will host Brown this week followed by Syracuse a week later.
  8. Drexel (13): Drexel got a critical 3OT win at Hofstra on the weekend to put them in tournament talks.  They also have defeated strong opponents in Albany and Villanova.  It remains likely that UVA and JHU will pick up quality wins and overtake the Dragons, but if the season ended today, Drexel would have a strong case to edge out Hofstra, UMass, Loyola and Hopkins for the final spot.
  9. Loyola (17):  No quality wins to date, but they are currently ranked #5.

 

On the Outside

  • UMass (12): UMass has a non-ranked loss to Albany.  Its next couple of games will likely lower its RPI.  After Saint Joseph’s and Towson, UMass will play Drexel and Hofstra.
  • Hofstra (15): All of its losses are to ranked opponents.  It has one top 5 win against ND.
  • St. John’s (16): St. John’s has a quality win against Hofstra.  They will travel to ND this week in hopes of a huge conference win.
  • Brown (18): Brown will have a chance to prove themselves as they travel to UNC and Princeton this week.
  • Virginia (20): Outside of Drexel, Virginia has no quality wins.  They have suffered four one-goal losses this season.
  • Johns Hopkins (22): RPI will increase over the next few games as Hopkins’ schedule becomes more difficult.  This will likely put them back in.

 

Potential match-ups:

  1. ND v Albany
  2. Maryland v Mount St. Mary’s
  3. Cornell v Loyola
  4. Denver v Drexel
  5. Bucknell v Princeton
  6. Penn v Penn State
  7. UNC v Duke
  8. Syracuse v Ohio State

Please feel free to leave any suggestions or questions you may have.  There is still much lacrosse to be played and this picture is likely to change.