The Face-Off Classic is dynamiting your lacrosse universe on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Six teams are set to square off in a triple-header starting at 11:00 A.M. Get your brain full of all kinds of delicious information with College Crosse's profiles of each of the festivals' participants.
Johns Hopkins and its 74,586 claimed national titles will waltz into M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday in a game it can't afford to lose: The next three games for the Blue Jays are Syracuse, Virginia, and North Carolina. Hopkins is clearly superior to UMBC, but if Tuesday's upset of Maryland is any indication, the Retrievers want to be the first game in a tough stretch for Hopkins rather than one of the last "gimmie games" that the Jays will play this season.
JOHNS HOPKINS (INDEPENDENT)
There's a lot of stuff floating around that Johns Hopkins is maybe a little overrated as the second-best team in the country. There's some truth to that; at times this season, Hopkins has looked like a team on the fringe of the top-ten. The below tempo-free profile speaks to that a little bit, but importantly bears out this point: While the Blue Jays' offensive showings have left a lot to be desired, the defense is performing at a rate among the national elite.
Here's the heat on Johns Hopkins.
|Raw Off. Efficiency
|Opp. Clear %
|Raw Def. Efficiency
|Off. Poss./60 min.
|Def. Poss./60 min.
|Opp. Sht. %.
|Opp. Effective Sht. %
|Def. Assist Rate
|Effective Sht. %
|Man-Down Conversion %
|EMO per Off. Poss.
|EMO Conversion %
|C/T per Def. Poss.
|Opp. Saves/Off. Poss.
Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:
- Look: Johns Hopkins' shutout of Manhattan is skewing the raw defensive efficiency here, but this is still one of the nastiest units in the country. They're not yielding goals on assists (8.64 assists allowed per 100 defensive possessions), teams can't shoot against the Jays' defense (22.32 percent opponent shooting percentage), and Hopkins isn't even relying heavily on Pierce Bassett to save the day and end defensive possessions (only about 25 out of every 100 defensive possessions end with a Hopkins goalie making a stop). What were once young, yappy pups have matured into a terrific defensive unit and it has been this end of the field that has generated victories for the Blue Jays this season. Against a mediocre offensive team like UMBC, Johns Hopkins should be able to drive the Retrievers into the ground like a hydraulic drill operated by a Texas wildcat.
- I don't know where Hopkins would be without Zach Palmer this season. His contributions aren't quite as concentrated as some other big offensive studs -- Peter Baum at Colgate and Rob Pannell at Cornell, for instance -- but he's still a huge reason that the Blue Jays are still undefeated. Without him, I'd guess that Hopkins would be in a ditch somewhere, bloodied, wondering where everything went wrong. In the overall, Johns Hopkins has had a rough time with getting the ball in the back of the net (as evidenced by its weak offensive efficiency value). Things, though, are looking up: Against Princeton, the team put together a 33.33 offensive efficiency, due in no small part to the fact that the Jays -- finally! -- got some production from its midfield. The more Johns Hopkins gets out of John Ranagan, Lee Coppersmith, John Greeley, et al., the better off the Blue Jays will be. It's a balance issue for Hopkins right now, and it looks like things are moving in the right direction.
- When you're having trouble scoring the bean, there's one thing that helps mitigate that issue: Dominating at offensive possession per game margin. Right now, Hopkins is getting about 5.5 more offensive possessions per 60 minutes of play than its opponents (its possession percentage is about 54 percent). In a grind-and-battle type of game against a team like UMBC, maintaining this margin is paramount. One of the biggest factors that will drive this on Saturday is how Mike Poppleton performs at the dot. If he's on his game, Hopkins can continue to work out its offensive maturation on the fly.
For more on Johns Hopkins' opponent -- UMBC -- check out the Retrievers' profile here.