Best in Show: March 21, 2011

The Big Red are on the come. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The college lacrosse season is almost half over.  Crazy, right?  There's only a few precious weeks left to get your flow looking good for Championship Weekend down in Baltimore.  Stock up on the Pert now, son.

It's probably a good time to look around the country and see who's getting it done and who it's getting done against.  Here are the top five in each of the following categories:

  • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: This is goals per 100 possessions, adjusted for strength of schedule. 
  • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: Like adjusted offensive efficiency, this is goals against per 100 possessions, adjusted for strength of schedule.
  • Adjusted Efficiency Margin: This is the margin (difference) between a team's adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.  This metric gives us a good idea as to how "complete" a team is.  The higher the value, the more "complete" the team is (i.e., this shows whether a team has a smoking offense and an heroic defense).
  • Strength of Schedule -- Offenses Faced: It's pretty straightforward -- how good, in the aggregate, were the offenses a team faced.
  • Strength of Schedule -- Defenses Faced: Just the inverse of the last metric.
  • Strength of Schedule -- Efficiency Margin: You get the idea, right?  We're just looking at the "completeness" of a team's opponents.

Here we go!

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

  1. Villanova
  2. Duke
  3. Cornell
  4. Virginia
  5. Notre Dame

Quick Hitter: Here's a scary fact -- Virginia is fourth nationally in offensive efficiency and is fifth nationally in offensive possessions per game (40.00). That's just not volume offense; that's volume offense with precision.

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. Johns Hopkins
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Army
  5. Brown

Quick Hitter: Brown, like Yale going into last weekend, is getting it done efficiently, but their defensive efficiency adjustment isn't quite mirroring the strength of its schedule: Only one school has faced worse opposing offenses than the Bears.  Brown should regress here as the season progresses.

Adjusted Efficiency Margin

  1. Notre Dame
  2. Cornell
  3. Virginia
  4. Duke
  5. Army

Quick Hitter: When do we officially retire the phrase "sneaky good" with respect to Cornell? If the Big Red cut down on their penalties per possession (eighth nationally), they could be in even better shape (Cornell isn't exactly a man-down machine, yielding lots of shots and goals on the personnel imbalance).

Strength of Schedule -- Offenses Faced

  1. Syracuse
  2. Notre Dame
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Mount Saint Mary's
  5. Penn State

Quick Hitter: Syracuse is sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency; they're 36th in defensive possessions per game.  So, the Orange have played lots of defensive possessions against really efficient offensive teams and they're still unbeaten. That's why Joel White is a Tewaaraton candidate.

Strength of Schedule -- Defenses Faced

  1. Saint Joseph's
  2. Penn State
  3. Hobart
  4. Hartford
  5. Vermont

Quick Hitter: Saint Joseph's is bad for a lot of reasons, but the schedule isn't helping.  Note to coaching staff: Schedule Mercer fifteen times next year. 

Strength of Schedule -- Efficiency Margin

  1. Penn State
  2. Syracuse
  3. Saint Joseph's
  4. Princeton
  5. Albany

Quick Hitter: Jeff Tambroni's Nittany Lions are 3-3 thus far against arguably the hardest schedule in the country. They just upset Massachusetts and there's nothing left on the schedule that's impossible (tough dates remaining with Hofstra, Delaware, and Drexel).  Keep an eye on them.

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