2014 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Siena at Bryant

Mitchell Layton

Siena and Bryant will open the NCAA Tournament. There will be lacrosse. Yes, there will be lacrosse.

Everything that's worth knowing about Siena-Bryant in the play-in round of the NCAA Tournament.

Update: May 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm. Changed a method on the probabilities. Updated probabilities table, associated tables, and downloadable profile .pdf's.

From 10,000 Feet

Date and Time: Wednesday, May 6, 2014 at 4:00 ET
Location: Smithfield, R.I.
Winner Advances To Play?: Syracuse on May 11, 2014 at 7:30 ET
Television/Internet: NECFrontrow.com will provide a stream for the game. No television.
Game "Fun Factor": 2.44 (second of two play-in games)
log5 Victory Probabilities:

log5 PROBABILITIES (AS OF MAY 5, 2014)
HOME AWAY FAVORITE UNDERDOG
Bryant Siena Bryant // 54.30% Siena // 45.70%

It's probably going to be an uphill climb for the Saints against the Bulldogs. Bryant is stronger than Siena in numerous facets of play, and the probabilities here reflect that. The Saints have a deeper NCAA Tournament pedigree than the Bulldogs, but Bryant is -- in the overall -- significantly stronger than Siena.

What's Your Deal?

Siena
NCAA Tournament Appearances: Four (Last: 2011)
NCAA Tournament Championships: None
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: Automatic Qualifier (MAAC)
Record: 11-5 (6-0, MAAC)
Combustibles: Richie Hurley (A) (34G, 44A); Conor Prunty (M) (25G, 9A); Tommy Cordts (G) (52.7 SV%); Colin Clive (A) (28G, 5A)

Bryant
NCAA Tournament Appearances: Two (Last: 2013)
NCAA Tournament Championships: None
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: Automatic Qualifier (NEC)
Record: 14-4 (5-1, NEC)
Combustibles: Gunnar Waldt (G) (60.9 SV%); Shane Morrell (A) (39G, 16A); Kevin Massa (FOGO) (72.5 FO%); Matt MacGrotty (D) (41GB, 19CT)

Truncated Tempo-Free Profiles

SIENA AT BRYANT (AS OF MAY 5, 2014)
METRIC SIENA BRYANT
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.90 (48) 30.14 (40)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 30.77 (35) 27.82 (15)
Possession Margin per 60 Minutes of Play +2.52 (17) +6.94 (2)
Adjusted Pythagorean Win Expectation 49.04% (32) 66.36% (17)
Downloadable Tempo-Free Profile (.pdf) Siena Bryant

The difference between Siena and Bryant -- when this table is viewed concomitantly with the above probability table -- is that the Bulldogs have a little more pop on the defensive side of the ball. While the efficiency values are adjusted for competition faced, it is important to note that the quality of the offenses that Siena and Bryant have seen this year are notably different: The Saints have played a schedule ranked 32nd in opposing offenses faced; the Bulldogs have faced a schedule ranked 56th in opposing offenses faced. The adjustment to the efficiency values provides a solid illustration of relative strength of the units, but it isn't bulletproof. This is important from a contextual standpoint.

Two Things

  • Siena has cashed its checks this season based on dominating possession margin, primarily generating offensive opportunities from faceoff wins (almost 41 percent of the Saints offensive opportunities in 2014 derived from wins at the dot, the 16th highest mark in the nation). This has helped Siena crush skulls against average to below average competition -- teams with Pythagorean win expectation values below 50 percent -- but against strong opponents, the Saints have struggled to keep pace despite doing well in possession margin: Against Syracuse, St. John's, Hofstra, and Albany (teams that the Saints faced with a Pythagorean win expectation value above 50 percent), Siena finished in a plus position or was even in possession margin in four of these five games (losing to the possession war to only the Orange) but lost all five games (the average margin of defeat was around seven goals). This is a major issue for the Saints entering their date with the Bulldogs for two reasons: (1) Siena has to deal with Kevin Massa on the whistle (the nation's leader in faceoff win percentage), and that could drastically impact the Saints' possession-generating activity (the lifeblood for Siena's chances for victory); and (2) If Siena can't dominate possession margin, there's evidence here that the Saints may not be able to throw hands with a strong opponent and come out the other side in relatively good shape. Siena has been good this season, but this is a terrible matchup for the Saints, both in quality of opponent and how the opponent plays.
  • "Dumb Stuff" can get teams in trouble, and the Bulldogs aren't immune from making things a little difficult on themselves. There are three aspects to Bryant's profile that are somewhat concerning from a "Dumb Stuff" perspective that could, if the circumstances are right, get the Bulldogs into trouble against the Saints -- (1) the margin between Bryant's giveaways and the turnovers their opponents commit; (2) the rate at which Bryant commits penalties and plays in man-down postures; and (3) the margin between the rate at which Bryant plays in man-up and the rate at which Bryant plays in man-down. Here's a table that details that "Dumb Stuff":
    BRYANT'S "DUMB STUFF" (AS OF MAY 5, 2014)
    METRIC BRYANT RANK
    Extra-Man Postures per 100 Offensive Opportunities 9.35 51
    Man-Down Postures per 100 Defensive Opportunities 12.65 56
    Personnel Imbalance Margin -3.30 61
    Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Bryant) 6.16 40
    Penalties per 100 Opportunities (Opponents) 5.45 48
    Penalties Margin -0.70 49
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 47.23 47
    Turnovers per 100 Defensive Opportunities 42.69 47
    Turnover Margin -4.54 48
    Why does any of that potentially matter? Go: (1) Bryant's man-down conversion percentage is excellent -- it ranks fourth nationally at 21.88 percent -- and opponents don't rely on those postures to score against the Bulldogs, but Siena's man-up clicks well -- the team ranks 15th in conversion rate at 42.31 percent -- and the Saints relied -- to a degree -- on the man-up to generate tallies; (2) Bryant struggles to efficiently can the bean on offense, and giveaways both limit the Bulldogs' offensive ceiling and create additional exposure for Bryant's admittedly strong defense; and (3) These are items that could directly help Siena remain competitive in a game that Bryant is heavily favored to win, giving the Saints preferable opportunities to score and relief from defensive pressure. "Dumb Stuff" can matter when "Dumb Stuff" is allowed to flourish. Controlling it is a factor for Bryant.
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