North Carolina-Maryland: What the What?

Raise your hand if you had Foster going three-and-one on Saturday? If you did, you're a liar. via images.lax.com

Whoops.

That's all I can pretty much say.  I was skeptical last week of the potential competitiveness of North Carolina-Maryland.  In a way, I was right: It was a blow out, but it was North Carolina administering, not receiving, a stomping.*

I'm not really sure where to start in terms of talking about this game.  It wouldn't be unreasonable to simply say, "Steven Rastivo was beastly in net for North Carolina and the Heels' youth put on an offensive showcase."  I mean, that's pretty true. This statement, though, fails to address a major issue: North Carolina played out of its freakin' mind.

Here are some numbers.  I think that they adequately represent the Heels' use of some kind of cheat code on Saturday:

CAROLINA: HUH?
METRIC SEASON SATURDAY
Offensive Efficiency 31.15 (16th) 50.00
Defensive Efficiency 28.90 (40th) 20.69
Offensive Effective Shooting % 28.94 (28th) 43.95
Defensive Effective Shooting % 31.71 (46th) 18.18
Offensive Assist Rate 16.49 (22nd) 36.36
Offensive Clearing % 87.68 (10th) 93.33
Defensive EMO Conversion Rate 42.31 (54th) 0.00

MARYLAND: DERP?
METRIC SEASON SATURDAY
Offensive Efficiency 32.82 (9th) 20.69
Defensive Efficiency 21.22 (6th) 50.00
Offensive Effective Shooting % 35.07 (7th) 18.18
Defensive Effective Shooting % 24.81 (13th) 43.95
Offensive Assist Rate 24.22 (1st) 13.79
Offensive Clearing % 91.24 (5th) 84.62
Defensive EMO Conversion Rate 24.14 (14th) 66.67

There shouldn't be anything striking here if you're operating under the premise of, "NORTH CAROLINA PLAYED AMAZEBALLS!"  Because, you know, they did:

  • Look at North Carolina's offensive efficiency. It's through the damn roof.  A big reason for that was the Heels shooting (they're getting an effective shooting percentage bump from going two-of-three on the man-up), and it's legitimate. Now, Carolina's offense wasn't necessarily "bad" going into the Maryland game, but knowing what the Terps had in the net with Niko Amato, I don't think anyone saw this kind of offensive explosion coming.  Nice job out of North Carolina's kids.
  • Shooting aside, I think the biggest story coming out of the game was the way the Tarheels shared the ball. The team just about doubled their assist rate, in no small part due to Nicky Galasso's efforts (four assists).  When you also also consider that Maryland wasn't yielding goals via the assist this season (only about 10.00 per 100 possessions, sixth-nationally), you clearly see the level of effort Carolina put in.
  • Now, on the Tarheels defense: Yeesh!  Rastivo played like a man possessed, but the outcome was more than just his efforts.  The Carolina defense was great, causing 16 turnovers and shutting down a Maryland offense that was top-10 in virtually every important offensive statistic this season.  The Terps shot like hell, they couldn't convert with assists as they had all season, and North Carolina even took advantage of a bad day from Maryland clearing the ball.  This all from a Heels defense that had rated in the bottom-third of the country.

As I've said so many times before, there's no "silver bullet" statistic. Carolina, though, played over its head in every important one that had plagued them during the season on Saturday.  If this is an indication of how the Heels will play the rest of the way, North Carolina will be a tough out.  If it was merely a blip on the radar, then it was at least an impressive one.

As for Maryland, well, this looks merely like one of those facepalm games. The Terps should be fine. We'll know more, though, on Saturday when they head down to Klockner to play Virginia.

* For the record, Justin was adamant that Carolina would show up.  They did.  Gold star and a Certificate of Achievement to him on the call.

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