Eulogizing the 2013 College Lacrosse Season: (16) Ohio State

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes earned the three-seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2013, but what was really happening with Ohio State?

You spent the better part of four months meticulously dissecting the 2013 college lacrosse season. You shouldn't stop now because cold turkey is a bad way to go through life, man. College Crosse is providing decompression snapshots of all 63 teams and their 2013 campaigns, mostly because everything needs a proper burial.

I. VITAL SIGNS

Team: Ohio State Buckeyes

2013 Record: 13-4 (5-2, ECAC)

2013 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 2.08 (12)

2012 Strength of Schedule (Efficiency Margin): 0.68 (26)

Winning Percentage Change from 2012: +23.14%

2013 Efficiency Margin: 5.24 (16)

Efficiency Margin Change from 2012: -0.64

II. "ATTA BOY!" FACT

  • Logan Schuss -- The Silver Gleaming Death Machine -- was the known going into 2013 for Ohio State; what was unknown -- and the knock against the Buckeyes in 2012 -- was whether the Buckeyes could get enough contributions from those around Schuss to make Ohio State into an offensive laser light show. With the season complete, the answer is clear: The Buckeyes developed like sociopaths with a chain saw, seeing maturation from the offense in totem. From where Ohio State was in 2012 to where they finished their 2013 campaign stands as one of the most notable growths -- offensively or defensively -- in the nation:

    OHIO STATE'S OFFENSIVE PROGRESSION: 2012 TO 2013
    METRIC 2012 2013
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 27.88 (40) 33.91 (14)
    Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.07 (23) 0.98 (58)
    Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 25.91% (51) 33.16% (5)
    Offensive Assist Rate 19.10 (19) 20.89 (13)
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 45.38 (23) 36.30 (4)
    Opponent Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 36.55 (54) 31.34 (16)
    Opponent Save Percentage 56.87% 49.06% (14)
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Defenses Faced 26.61 (29) 29.11 (6)
    Let's tear this apart a little bit: (1) Ohio State did a better job at shot selection, lowering the rate at which it bombed at the cage (and the parking lot) and increasing the team's overall raw shooting rate (dramatically in both instances); (2) The increased focus on shot selection and shooting acumen decimated opposing keepers, once the ceiling-limiter for Ohio State's offensive potential; (3) The team's substantial decrease in turnovers helped buoy the Buckeye's overall offensive efficiency; and (4) Ohio State's offensive growth came against a schedule of defenses substantially more stout than in 2012. This is massive maturation, and it's heavily attributable to the role that Jesse King, Carter Brown, Turner Evans, David Planning, and Dominique Alexander (among others) took in 2013, supporting Schuss and performing at noteworthy levels. It was a complete offense from the Buckeyes this past year, and it showed in numerous ways.

III. "YOU'RE GROUNDED UNTIL YOU QUALIFY FOR THE AARP!" FACT

  • Ohio State was the beneficiary of a system that doesn't do a fantastic job of seeding teams for the NCAA Tournament. The fact that the Buckeyes earned the three-seed in The Big Barbecue is borderline nonsense; outside of the RPI (which ranked Ohio State sixth in the nation) and the selection and seeding criteria the committee utilizes to form the postseason bracket, there isn't a rating system out there that had the Buckeyes as a top 10 team. This doesn't erode what Ohio State accomplished in 2013 -- winning the ECAC Tournament (the Buckeye's victories came against Loyola and Denver, two of the better teams in the country) was impressive, as were the team's regular season wins over Penn State, Virginia, and Bellarmine -- but seeding the Buckeyes so high (and dropping down more worthy teams like Cornell or North Carolina) put a bulls eye on Ohio State's back as a team that prospered in a fairly backwards system, exposing the system as somewhat cockamamie. The overall ratings strength of where the Buckeyes fell compared to the other participants in the NCAA Tournament is notable:

    OHIO STATE'S OFFENSIVE PROGRESSION: 2012 TO 2013
    TEAM NCAA TOURNAMENT SEED LAXPOWER RANKING PYTHAGOREAN WIN EXPECTATION RANKING
    Syracuse 1 10 3
    Notre Dame 2 15 8
    Ohio State 3 14 16
    Denver 4 9 10
    North Carolina 5 2 2
    Maryland 6 5 6
    Duke 7 4 13
    Penn State 8 12 15
    Yale Unseeded 7 14
    Loyola Unseeded 6 4
    Cornell Unseeded 1 1
    Lehigh Unseeded 18 7
    Albany Unseeded 13 19
    Towson Unseeded 30 26
    Detroit Unseeded 50 47
    Bryant Unseeded 32 40
    So, the issue, of course, isn't whether Ohio State was a worthy NCAA Tournament team (they were); rather, the issue is where they should have been seeded if any eye was set toward the overall strength of a team (and ignoring some of the obfuscating criteria the selection committee must use). Let's say that the Buckeyes were swapped with North Carolina or Cornell, drawing either Lehigh or Maryland in the first round. How would that change Ohio State's first round universe? Well, instead of having a 59.17 percent chance of advancing to the quarterfinals (that was the team's log5 determination against Towson), Ohio State would only have a 40.57 percent chance of beating the Mountain Hawks in its opening game and just a 40.34 percent chance of victory against Maryland (even with the Terrapins limping into the postseason). It's unfortunate that part of Ohio State's 2013 legacy is going to be its overseeding in The Big Barbecue -- which is no fault of its own -- but the program will carry that with it as long as it promotes the fact that it was the three-seed in the postseason last year.

IV. MR. FIX-IT HAS A ONE-FIX ENGAGEMENT, AND IT'S . . .

  • For Nick Myers there is only one focus: Maintaining the team's position in the ECAC this season and holding its place in the national hierarchy. This is a program on the threshold of accomplishing significant feats (due to all kinds of support, importantly in resources and recruiting talent). If Myers can find consistency in 2014 despite the departures of Schuss, Alexander, and Trey Wilkes, the Buckeyes are going to smash some skulls. And that's the key -- keeping all the young talent in Columbus focused on development and maturation. If Myers can do that, Ohio State could be a top 10 team next spring.
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