The ACC Tournament: Maryland-North Carolina

Come get some, young fella. via images.lax.com

How's this for an undercard?

On one side you have North Carolina, situated as either the ninth or 10th best team in the country depending on which poll you prefer. On the other, Maryland, the sixth or seventh best outfit in the nation.  And this is only a conference tournament semifinal game, a match up that hasn't drawn nearly as much ink as the nightcap featuring Duke and Virginia.

So goes college lacrosse in 2011.

In their previous meeting, North Carolina shellacked Maryland in Bryd Stadium (!!!) to the tune of an 11-6 drubbing.  It wasn't a pretty sight for the Terrapins, and they'll be out for blood -- Tarheel Blue blood, specifically -- tonight.

(I hope.  I don't have superpowers to anticipate these sorts of things.  Yet, at least.)

Ready?  Set?  Chart!  (SPOILER: Carolina's defense is still suspect, yo):

TERPS-HEELS:  LET'S DO THIS
METRIC MARYLAND N. CAROLINA
Fun Factor 6.6911 (6th) 4.6108 (17th)
Pace 63.63 (43rd) 64.42 (42nd)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 32.61 (10th) 33.20 (9th)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 23.32 (9th) 27.10 (30th)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin 6.23 (2nd) 6.10 (15th)

For the record, this game rates as a 5.6509 on the "Fun Factor" scale.  A big reason for that is that these guys are rolling out some studs:

TERPS-HEELS: STAR SEARCH
PLAYER TEAM O/R A/R T.O.V.
R. Young Maryland 3.62 4.39 8.01 (54th)
G. Catalino Maryland 5.17 2.07 7.24 (74th)
J. Cummings Maryland 6.20 0.26 6.46 (108th)
O. Blye Maryland 2.84 2.58 5.43 (147th)
J. Haus Maryland 2.58 2.33 4.91 (170th)
N. Galasso N. Carolina 4.87 6.42 11.28 (6th)
B. Bitter N. Carolina 4.87 2.65 7.52 (68th)
T. Wood N. Carolina 4.20 2.65 6.86 (91st)
M. Holman N. Carolina 4.42 1.11 5.53 (142nd)
J. Dunster N. Carolina 2.65 1.55 4.20 (191st)

O/R = Offensive rating (goals per 100 offensive possessions).
A/R = Assist Rate (assists per 100 offensive possessions).
T.O.V. = Total Offensive Value (points per 100 offensive possessions).

Here's some stuff to keep an eye on tonight:

  1. Maryland is the embodiment of "sharing is caring."  The Terps lead the country in offensive assist rate at 21.19 (assists per 100 possessions).  That's a Max Taber level of nuts. What makes Maryland so difficult to stop in this regard is that they throw so many guys out on the field that can distribute the bean: Young, Catalino, Haus, and Blye are all in the top-115 nationally in individual assist rate.  Son, that's the stuff that you write postcards and instructional DVD's about.

    North Carolina is going to have its hands full, keeping its head on a swivel.  Ryan Flanagan, Charlie McComas et al. are going to have to put in a solid effort tonight.  On the season, the Tarheels are 29th nationally in defensive assist rate. If Maryland starts piling up the helpers, the story won't have all that nice of an ending for Carolina.

  2. This game has "grind it out" written all over it.  I'm looking at those pace factors (face-offs, clearing, and the ride) as important touchstones. Maryland is ninth nationally in face-off percentage; North Carolina is 12th.  The Terps are sixth nationally in offensive clearing; the Heels are ninth. Maryland is 20th in the country on the ride; Carolina is 36th.  These are evenly matched clubs in terms of pace control, and whichever team can control the factors ultimately tilts the game in their favor. 

    Pertinently, each team is doing a great job at winning the possession margin game (Carolina is sixth in the land while Maryland is second).  Given North Carolina's weaker defensive efficiency, it'll need to really dominate the possession factors in order to reduce its defensive possession exposure. Maryland, contrastingly, uses the extra offensive possessions to work the clock and pick their shot spots (the Terps are only taking about 0.96 shots per offensive possession, which is right around the bottom third in the country). If the pace or possession balance is upset in either team's favor, things could swing rather quickly.

If you have anything else to add, drop 'em in the comments below.

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