2014 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Johns Hopkins at (8) Virginia

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

The blood is so blue in this game that it comes in a brandy snifter.

Everything that's worth knowing about Johns Hopkins-Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

From 10,000 Feet

Date and Time: Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 1:00 ET
Location: Charlottesville, V.A.
Winner Advances To Play?: The winner of Air Force-Duke.
Television/Internet: ESPN2 has the broadcast. Also available on WatchESPN.
Game "Fun Factor": 4.96 ("Very Good")
log5 Victory Probabilities:

log5 PROBABILITIES (AS OF MAY 8, 2014)
HOME AWAY FAVORITE UNDERDOG
Virginia Johns Hopkins Johns Hopkins // 59.95% Virginia // 40.05%

Jays-Cavaliers is going to be a war at Klockner Stadium, but the computing machine sees this as outside the realm of a true toss-up game with Hopkins as the favorite. Interestingly, when these two teams met in the regular season, Virginia earned an 11-10 overtime victory at home, using a late push in the fourth quarter to knot the scoreboard and force the extra period. Past is not necessarily prologue, but there is some interesting history between the two teams in 2014 that colors the prediction of the game.

What's Your Deal?

Johns Hopkins
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 42 (Last: 2012)
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: At-Large (Independent)
Record: 10-4
Combustibles: Wells Stanwick (A) (17G, 40A); Ryan Brown (A) (38G, 13A); Drew Kennedy (FOGO) (60.3 FO%); Mike Pellegrino (LSM) (23GB, 13CT)

Virginia
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 36 (Last: 2012)
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: At-Large (ACC)
Record: 10-5 (1-4, ACC)
Combustibles: Mark Cockerton (A) (45G, 15A); Scott McWilliams (D) (27GB, 23CT); Tanner Scales (D) (45GB, 18CT); James Pannell (A) (39G, 7A)

Truncated Tempo-Free Profiles

JOHNS HOPKINS at VIRGINIA (AS OF MAY 8, 2014)
METRIC JOHNS HOPKINS VIRGINIA
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 34.60 (17) 36.82 (11)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 23.67 (3) 27.85 (16)
Possession Margin per 60 Minutes of Play +2.82 (15) +1.33 (21)
Pythagorean Win Expectation 76.44% (4) 72.07% (9)
Downloadable Tempo-Free Profile (.pdf) Johns Hopkins Virginia

The Blue Jays enter the weekend ranked 19th in possessions per 60 minutes of play at 66.92; the 'Hoos have a little more jet fuel in their giddy-up, playing 74.03 possessions per 60 minutes of play. Assuming that these two teams are willing to move against each other -- and that's not a given due to the fact that tournament games (both NCAA and conference) often feature deflated pace as a residue of Geppeto-esque control -- the pace of the game could pass at a decent clip. Virginia wants to go more than the Jays, but in the right circumstances Johns Hopkins isn't against attacking after identifying transition opportunities that are preferable for the Blue Jays. There are two really strong teams, and if their meeting also features fluid play between the boxes, the game takes on an enhanced character befitting a prime spot on ESPN2.

Two Things

  • Virginia's ride against Johns Hopkins is vitally important for the Cavaliers outside of the context of possession-generation. (The 'Hoos, though, rely heavily on their ride to create offensive opportunities. Almost 12 percent of their offensive opportunities are generated from successful rides, the fourth highest mark in the nation). Johns Hopkins has been a miserable clearing team in 2014, completing only 83.21 percent of their clears (53rd nationally), and Virginia must take advantage of the mirrored postures for a straightforward reason: Killing offensive possessions for the Jays before Hopkins is permitted to buzz around the box limits exposure of a good defense with a goalkeeping issue. The last thing that Virginia needs to see against Johns Hopkins is the Jays' offense -- one that shoots almost 30 percent on the year -- getting clean looks at the Cavaliers' defensive net. Virginia's crease play just can't sustain an onslaught from the opposition:
    VIRGINIA'S GOALTENDING PROFILE (AS OF MAY 8, 2014)
    METRIC VALUE RANK
    Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 27.01 65
    Team Save Percentage 47.44% 60
    Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.93 2
    Shots on Goal per Defensive Opportunity 0.57 6
    Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 60.94% 59
    Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 32.03% 61
    Raw Shots on Goal Shooting Rate 52.56% 60
    Virginia isn't seeing a lot of shots on the defensive end but the ones they are seeing are finding the back of the net. Virginia's ride limits this exposure and doesn't allow for the circumstances that feed into this goalkeeping profile to come to fruition. There's a possession aspect to the Cavs' ride, but the team's ride means more to Virginia from a don't-make-Matt-Barrett-have-to-play-the-hero standpoint.
  • The chatter about Johns Hopkins this season has been the team's new-look offense, a change that has seen the Jays put double-digits on the board in all but two games (against Navy and North Carolina). The shape of the discussion around Hopkins' offense, though, is somewhat misleading: The Blue Jays are highly competent with the bean, but the team's efficiency lies, in part, with its mitigation of turnovers rather than an outright excellence in all phases of offensive explosion. Johns Hopkins is a very strong offensive team, but this isn't an offense on the same level as Denver (the most face-smashing offense on the planet). To wit:
    HOPKINS' OFFENSIVE PROFILE (AS OF MAY 8, 2014)
    METRIC VALUE RANK
    Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 34.60 17
    Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.13 31
    Shots on Goal per Offensive Opportunity 0.68 22
    Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity 60.25% 22
    Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 29.95% 18
    Raw Shots on Goal Shooting Rate 49.70% 25
    Offensive Assist Rate 20.81 15
    Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 38.79 8
    Unforced Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 16.36 3
    Opponent Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities 34.34 37
    Opponent Save Percentage 50.30% 25
    None of this is "bad," but it also isn't the profile of an unstoppable force that changes the way we interact as humans. The Jays still butter their bread with their defense -- one of the five best units in the nation -- and it’s that end of the field that drives Hopkins' success. "Violent" isn't a word that comes to mind when thinking about Johns Hopkins' offense (even though Ryan Brown pumped in eight goals against Syracuse). Rather, "Proficient" is the characterization that seems to fit the best. Wells Stanwick, Brown, and Brandon Benn form the core of this attack-oriented offense, and the results have been very strong in the first year of implementation. It's just that the Jays' efforts on the offensive end haven't quite fit in the rhetoric surrounding the unit.
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