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ACC Lacrosse Tournament Participant Profile: North Carolina

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Every Division I tournament. Every team. College Crosse has it all on lockdown. Please send cookies and naptime. Today we're slashing to bits the ACC Tournament.

Sometimes you look like a beautiful flower, North Carolina. Other times you look like delicious destruction under my mowing deck. I see the Hopkins and Maryland wins, but I also see the Pennsylvania and Virginia losses. I don't know if this is all a sophisticated method acting thing or what, but I'd sure like to know where you're going with all this, counselor.

Anyway, here's the heat on North Carolina.

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS: THREE-SEED

For a more complete, mind-bending picture, here's a .pdf of the complete report.

NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
BIG STATS PACE STATS
Record 9-4 (1-2) Clear % 90.28% (4)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 34.35 (13) Opp. Clear % 80.31% (21)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 30.72 (37) Faceoff % 59.12% (7)
Poss. Percentage 54.31% (1) Pace 68.69 (17)
Off. Poss./60 min. 37.31 (3)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 31.38 (18)
Save Percentage 52.3%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.34 (19) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 30.73% (44) Goal Differential +28
Opp. Effective Sht. % 32.07% (49) Shooting % 30.74% (18)
Def. Assist Rate 22.55 (57) Effective Sht. % 31.31% (22)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.13 (55) Assist Rate 21.44 (11)
Man-Down Conversion % 42.59% (48) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.09 (50)
Man-Down Reliance 0.18 (55) EMO Conversion % 40.48% (19)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.19 (17) EMO Reliance 0.08 (49)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.41 (9)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.29 (18)

Three pieces of incredibly important information from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:

  • You want to win lacrosse games? Of course you want to win lacrosse games. And if you want to win lacrosse games the best way to try and do that -- other than by poisoning your opponent's Gatorade buckets -- is to win the possession margin game. Nobody -- and I'm talking in this galaxy -- generates more offensive possessions against defensive possessions than North Carolina. A lot of that has to do with R.G. Keenan being a rock-solid ox at the dot (he's winning draws at a 61.6% clip), but it also has a lot to do with the Heels doing a nice job clearing the bean when given the opportunity. When you're creating offensive possessions on the whistle and not giving away offensive opportunities that quickly turn into defensive ones on failed clears (usually unsettled, "OH MY GOD! SAVE US FROM THIS HELL!" scenarios), Carolina can really grab a game by its intimitate areas when that baby blue offense -- the 13th-most efficient in the country -- starts cramming the bean. That's the Carolina that can beat anyone in the land; if those circumstances don't quite hit, then you kind of see the Heels that struggle against Pennsylvania and Lehigh. (Not to take anything away from the Mountain Hawks' tremendous season, of course.)
  • The added bonus for Carolina when it dominates possession is that it can insulate its somewhat precarious defense. That unit for the Heels hasn't been all that sharp this season: The efficiency isn't particularly notable (only around the national average) despite playing relatively few defensive possessions per 60 minutes of play (only 17 teams play fewer per game than North Carolina). So, this isn't a fatigue issue for the Tar Heels on the defensive end; it's an execution issue. To me, and this has been a bit of a problem all season for Carolina defensively, the Tar Heels' ability to insulate its defense is eroded by the amount of ball watching that Carolina is prone to do: Only four teams have a worst defensive assist rate (assists allowed per 100 defensive possessions) than the Heels. That simply isn't helping Steven Rastivo make stops (his save percentage is only a pedestrian 51.5 percent at this stage of the year). Against a team like Virginia that shares the ball like crazy -- the Cavaliers are fourth-nationally in offensive assist rate -- this is going to be an issue for Carolina regardless of how few defensive possessions the team actually has to play.
  • Carolina has played a lot of man-down this season. (In fact, only six teams have played more man-down this season than the Tar Heels and only six teams have seen their opponents rely on the personnel imbalance more to generate goals.) When you're into ball watching and asking Steven Rastivo to do heavy lumberjack work, it's not surprising to see Carolina's man-down conversion rate at almost 43 percent. Now, if you're playing Mercer or Wagner, no problem, Jack; when you're playing Virginia -- a team that clicks at 48.4 percent on the man-up, has 75 weapons of mass destruction, and is constructed in a fashion that can totally pick apart a defense playing with a personnel imbalance at will -- then you may have a problem, Jack. I'm not saying that this is the biggest issue facing Carolina today, but it'll be an interesting plot point.

For more on North Carolina's opponent -- Virginia -- check out the Cavaliers' profile here.