ACC Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: Virginia

March 24, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers midfielder Colin Briggs (34) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the John Hopkins Blue Jays in the first half at Klockner Stadium. The Blue Jays won 11-10 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the ACC Tournament.

Despite the fact that Duke did heart surgery on Virginia last Friday at Klockner Stadium, it's still a little hard to say that, even as the two-seed, that the Cavaliers aren't the favorite to take the ACC Touranment this year. The gap between Virginia and the league's three other contenders isn't as wide as it felt a few weeks ago, but Virginia is still probably the best-constructed of the membership to give a championship performance in back-to-back games before heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Plus, you know, they're hosting the damn tournament. That has to count for something, right? (Please ignore last week's curb stomping of the Cavaliers at Klockner.)

Anyway, here's the heat on Virginia.

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS: TWO-SEED

For a more complete, mind-bending picture, here's a .pdf of the complete report.

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 10-2 (2-1) Clear % 89.82% (6)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 36.72 (6) Opp. Clear % 87.20% (53)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 26.81 (20) Faceoff % 55.93% (14)
Poss. Percentage 53.45% (7) Pace 64.61 (41)
Off. Poss./60 min. 34.53 (19)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 30.07 (10)
Save Percentage 58.0%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.39 (6) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 24.64% (9) Goal Differential +47
Opp. Effective Sht. % 25.16% (9) Shooting % 32.39% (9)
Def. Assist Rate 15.11 (20) Effective Sht. % 32.94% (9)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.10 (30) Assist Rate 23.44 (4)
Man-Down Conversion % 34.21% (30) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.07 (59)
Man-Down Reliance 0.13 (33) EMO Conversion % 48.39% (5)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.24 (41) EMO Reliance 0.10 (46)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.36 (1)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.31 (30)

Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • Where can you possibly start? Looking at Virginia is like looking at a chopped and channeled '58 Ford. It's just sweetness from so many angles. The offense is an efficient horse due, in part, to two huge things: (1) The Cavaliers, primarily through Steele Stanwick (and to a lesser extent Colin Briggs), share the ball as beautifully and effectively as any team in the country, providing looks from preferred shooting locations; and (2) The Cavaliers finish as well as anyone with a raw shooting rate among the nation's top-10 (which is helped through all those helpers). Stopping this offense generally requires a maniacal effort, and this becomes exacerbated when . . .
  • . . . Virginia starts dominating possession margin. Only six teams -- including North Carolina -- play more offensive possessions against defensive possessions. Ryan Benincasa and Mick Parks have been doing man-work at the dot this season and it has really helped in the "make-it // take-it // never-have-to-play-a-defensive-possession-because-the-offense-is-a-futuristic-death-machine-of-efficiency" department. Now, Carolina is going to create some problems in this area for Virginia on Friday as R.G. Keenan may be the kind of kryptonite the Heels need to keep the ball out of Virginia's hands and make that Cavaliers defense play some extra possessions. North Carolina may also try and gun its ride against Virginia's clear, but I'm not sure how much they'll get out of that. In the end, you're going to see this possession margin war played out at the dot and not through some of the other means -- turnovers, caused turnovers, clear, ride, etc.
  • Three cheers for Rob Fortunato, right? Coming into 2012, he got hammered with "Question Mark!" stigmata, which was pretty fair I suppose. The guy, however, has done nothing short of bench press Volkswagen's this season: His save percentage is right around 59 percent and only five teams have seen their goalie stop more shots per defensive possession than Virginia (and that's heavily attributable to that 3-3 zone that the Cavaliers like to suffocate teams with). You can talk about all the great defensive work that guys like Chris LaPierre and Matt Lovejoy have done this season, but you can make a really good argument that it's been Fortunato that has been the most important piece of that defensive puzzle this season. Virginia relies on him and he has delivered fairly well in the overall. He'll be tested on Friday against all of Carolina's offensive weapons -- Joey Sankey, Marcus Holman, a shark firing a laser cannon -- and it'll be his effort between the pipes that may determine whether a championship game appearance is in order.

For more on Virignia's opponent -- North Carolina -- check out the Tar Heels' profile here.

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