2012 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Staring Contest: Yale at Notre Dame

Apr 1, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; St. Johns Red Storm attack Kevin Cernuto (33) brings the ball up field against Notre Dame Fighting Irish long stick midfielder Bobby Smith (10) at the Big City Classic at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

It's the 2012 NCAA Tournament! Take out the nice napkins and make sure that your kid doesn't have crap all over his face. College Crosse has this all under control, so feel safe, friends. If you missed anything -- and you really shouldn't because you're only hurting yourself if you do -- click this fancy highlighted text to get all caught up.

Maybe I'm an idiot for picking Notre Dame as the eventual national champion. Maybe other people are idiots for seeing Yale as a sneaky upset pick this weekend against the Irish based on their recent play. What I do know is that only an idiot doesn't see that this game has huge ramifications on the entirety of the bracket -- a Notre Dame victory puts Virginia or Princeton into a real hard spot in Philadelphia and presents serious concerns for whichever team comes out of Loyola's mini-bracket; a Yale victory opens up the bracket completely and yields some odd preparation issues for whichever teams they'll eventually face.

Anyway, here's the heat on Yale at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Tournament Four-Seed (Big East, At-Large)

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

NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 11-2 Clear % 88.45% (8)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 28.00 (40) Opp. Clear % 87.30% (52)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 19.81 (1) Faceoff % 48.50% (40)
Poss. Percentage 50.13% (30) Pace 59.53 (59)
Off. Poss./60 min. 29.84 (53)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 29.69 (5)
Save Percentage 64.52%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.36 (15) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 19.20% (1) Goal Differential +31
Opp. Effective Sht. % 19.33% (1) Shooting % 25.29% (55)
Def. Assist Rate 0.12 (3) Effective Sht. % 25.57% (56)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.07 (9) Assist Rate 0.13 (53)
Man-Down Conversion % 10.34% (1) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.07 (60)
Man-Down Reliance 0.04 (1) EMO Conversion % 25.00% (51)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.21 (34) EMO Reliance 0.06 (59)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.47 (34)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.35 (49)

Yale Bulldogs: Unseeded (Ivy, Automatic Qualifer)

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

YALE BULLDOGS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 11-4 Clear % 83.22% (40)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 32.28 (20) Opp. Clear % 86.64% (45)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 26.74 (16) Faceoff % 60.33% (3)
Poss. Percentage 53.14% (7) Pace 65.94 (28)
Off. Poss./60 min. 35.04 (13)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 30.90 (15)
Save Percentage 47.45%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.24 (59) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 28.94% (29) Goal Differential +35
Opp. Effective Sht. % 29.48% (27) Shooting % 30.56% (19)
Def. Assist Rate 0.15 (18) Effective Sht. % 31.38% (19)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.10 (26) Assist Rate 0.16 (39)
Man-Down Conversion % 31.25% (25) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.12 (17)
Man-Down Reliance 0.11 (29) EMO Conversion % 34.38% (33)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.26 (11) EMO Reliance 0.13 (26)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.43 (16)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.28 (14)

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

  • Your feelings on Notre Dame probably rest on how much you trust the Irish's offense and ability to pull out one- and two-goal games. The cumulative offensive picture that the Irish have painted this season isn't a pretty one (this has been one of the most anemic offenses in the country), but there is hope: Since the beginning of April, Notre Dame has generated an offensive efficiency value greater than its season rate in five of its last six games. (It should be noted, however, that in three of those five games that the Irish barely breached their season-long adjusted offensive efficiency value.) I wouldn't say that Notre Dame is necessarily on the come, but things have been somewhat better. The offense still revolves around guys like Jim Marlatt, Sean Rogers, and Westy Hopkins getting it on their own -- which is a dangerous proposition when considering how poorly this team shoots on the whole and individually -- but it's not the absolute dregs of Division I. Yale has enough parts to deal with the Irish's approach, and if Notre Dame struggles to generate tallies the Irish are going to have to rest, once again, on its defense and incredibly elongated and patient offensive possessions to try and choke the life out of the Elis.
  • Yale's offense is pretty good in the overall, but not necessarily close to the national elite. Where the Bulldogs get value out of their offense -- other than Matt Gibson, Deron Dempster, and Brandon Mangan losing their minds -- is that their special situation units do a good job at providing them lots of opportunities to generate tallies. On the year, Yale is dominating possession, holding a possession percentage value that's good for seventh in the country and a possession margin that is just north of four opportunities per 60 minutes of play. Against Notre Dame this shouldn't change too much: the Elis hold a huge advantage at the dot with Cole Yeager and Dylan Levings and due to the Irish's proclivity to retreat rather than aggressively ride, the Bulldogs should see those offensive opportunities preserved as well. (This is all potentially mitigated by two issues: (1) Whether Yale's defense will hold up; and (2) Whether Notre Dame holds the ball for eons while in possession.) With the bonus of playing additional offensive possessions -- the permission to volumize an offense -- Yale has a chance to do to Notre Dame what St. John's did just over a week ago: Never give the Irish the ball and try and try to pick apart the Irish defense. In the end, it may not matter that Yale is rolling with the 20th most efficient offense in the country; with extra offensive possessions they can continue to beat the brick until it cracks.
  • It's going to be interesting to see how Yale attacks this Irish offense. On the year, Notre Dame hasn't been spectacular at valuing the the bean, only ranking around the national average in turnovers per offensive possession. The Elis have been pretty aggressive at generating turnovers this season, ranking 11th-nationally in caused turnovers per defensive possession. (And it has little to do with creating this circumstances on the ride.) If the Bulldogs come out and press at the Irish, are they willing to do so if it leaves unnecessary exposure to Jack Meyer in the net? That decision may be easy for the Bulldogs to make if the Irish are content with generating stalled offensive possessions, shrinking the box and allowing guys like McCormack and Johnson to do their thing.

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