2014 America East Lacrosse Tournament Preview

USA TODAY Sports

Albany heads into the America East Tournament as a heavy favorite.

Everything that's worth knowing about the America East Tournament.

Participants

2014 AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT
SEED TEAM LEAGUE RECORD LEAGUE WINS LEAGUE LOSSES
1. Albany 5-0 Vermont, Hartford, Stony Brook, UMBC, Binghamton Albany
2. Binghamton 4-1 Hartford, UMBC, Vermont, Stony Brook Albany
3. UMBC 3-2 Stony Brook, Hartford, Vermont Binghamton, Albany
4. Stony Brook 2-3 Hartford, Vermont Albany, Binghamton, UMBC

Times, Dates of Matchups

Thursday, May 1, 2014 (Semifinals -- at Stony Brook (LaValle Stadium)):

  • (3) UMBC v. (2) Binghamton: 5:00 PM (ET)
  • (4) Stony Brook v. (1) Albany: 7:30 PM (ET)

Saturday, May 3, 2014 (Championship -- at Stony Brook (LaValle Stadium)):

  • Semifinal I Winner v. Semifinal II Winner: 10:00 AM (ET)

Television/Internet

The America East will stream -- for free! -- the conference tournament's two semifinal games on AmericaEast.tv. ESPNU will carry the championship game live. The championship game will also be available on the WatchESPN app.

League Tournament Spirit Animal

A great white shark in seal-infested waters.

Truncated Tempo-Free Profiles

2014 AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT TRUNCATED TEMPO-FREE PROFILES (AS OF APRIL 28, 2014)
METRIC ALBANY BINGHAMTON UMBC STONY BOOK
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 41.38 (3) 31.97 (28) 36.27 (11) 32.98 (24)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 27.72 (15) 35.05 (55) 38.25 (63) 38.95 (64)
Possession Margin per 60 Minutes of Play -0.71 (44) +2.13 (17) +1.99 (18) +4.25 (7)
Pythagorean Win Expectation 77.59% (4) 42.92% (43) 45.89% (35) 37.38% (55)

If Albany spits the bit -- it's possible; the Great Danes have two big upsets on their resume right now (to Canisius and Bryant) -- it'll be a major development not only in the America East but nationally: Albany doesn't have an exceptional NCAA Tournament profile as a potential at-large selection to the field. The team's RPI ranking is currently 15th, the team's weighted RPI strength of schedule ranking is currently 21st, the team has three top 20 RPI wins -- against Harvard (18), Massachusetts (19), and Penn State (20) -- that may not hold through the weekend, and the team has a disastrous bad loss to Canisius. The Danes are the best team in the America East but can't afford anything less than a title if it wants to feel comfortable at 9:00 PM on Sunday.

Predictions

log5 PROBABILITIES: PROBABILITY OF WINNING THE AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT (AS OF APRIL 28, 2014)
RANK TEAM PROBABILITY
1. Albany 69.25%
2. UMBC 13.47%
3. Binghamton 11.00%
4. Stony Brook 6.28%

If that table doesn't clearly illustrate how much of a favorite Albany is in the America East Tournament, maybe this will help clarify the Great Danes' standing among those competing at LaValle Stadium: Albany holds a plus-43 (91-48) scoring margin against America East opponents this season (the Danes have won their conference games by an average of about nine goals) and against America East Tournament teams is plus-28 (56-28) in scoring margin (the Danes have won these games by an average of about nine goals). The odds are necessarily in Albany's favor, and that's what makes Binghamton, UMBC, and Stony Brook's probabilities for earning the league's auto-bid so long. This is Albany's tournament to lose, and it would take monster efforts from the other three competitors to knock off the Danes on Long Island.

Three Things

  • Here's something scary about Stony Brook-Albany in the semifinals of the tournament: Albany's offense ranks third nationally in efficiency; Stony Brook's defense ranks 64 nationally in efficiency. The Seawolves' gigantic possession margin advantage means next to nothing if Stony Brook plays to script against the Danes. Just look at the truncated tempo-free profiles: The Seawolves are yielding -- on a 100-possession basis -- to their opposition almost as many goals as the Danes are scoring -- on a 100-possession basis -- against their opponents. That's the formula for a bloodbath, one that could see the Great Danes mirror their 17-7 shellacking of Stony Brook from earlier in the season. The Seawolves need to find a way to create defensive stops, and a major factor in determining whether Stony Brook can create those stops is in how the Seawolves and Danes control and create off-ball movement when Albany has the bean: Stony Brook's defense ranks 63rd in defensive assist rate (assists per 100 defensive opportunities); Albany's offense ranks first in offensive assist rate (assists per 100 offensive opportunities). The quality of shots that the Seawolves give up will ultimately dictate whether the team's defense can give Stony Brook enough to compete with Albany.
  • UMBC-Binghamton has the makings for a solid show: In a log5 environment, the game is a pure toss-up with UMBC as an itty-bitty favorite; some dirty math shows the game with a 10-10 outcome. Now, both teams look like cattle shuffling to the slaughterhouse given that the winner will -- more likely than not -- meet Albany in the championship, but their meeting looks like a true tournament showcase of evenly matched teams throwing hands at each other. The regular season meeting between the two teams resulted in a somewhat odd 13-7 victory for the Bearcats, but that may not be solid prologue for the meeting between the two programs on Thursday. There shouldn't be a ton of defense in the game, allowing for momentum in a pace-deflated game to push a team toward potentially valuable scoring cushions.
  • Albany stands opposite from its peer competitors in the America East Tournament in ways other than the team's relative strength. One of those ways -- style of play -- stands out as especially odd: The Great Danes are the fastest team in the nation, playing 75.67 (first nationally) possessions per 60 minutes of play; Binghamton, Stony Brook, and UMBC are three pragmatic teams, playing 56.07 (65th nationally), 61.34 (53rd nationally), and 62.16 (46th nationally) possessions per 60 minutes of play, respectively. The Danes are more than willing to unleash fury while the rest of the field is content to lie back in a hammock and let the day develop around to them. These disparate and consistent approaches could create comfort or discomfort, which may quietly help shape the volition of these games.
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