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2012 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Staring Contest: Syracuse at Duke

It's the 2012 NCAA Tournament! Take out the nice napkins and make sure that your kid doesn't have crap all over his face. College Crosse has this all under control, so feel safe, friends. If you missed anything -- and you really shouldn't because you're only hurting yourself if you do -- click this fancy highlighted text to get all caught up.

In any other year Syracuse-Duke would be a fireworks show of a national semifinal. In 2012, though, it's the kickstarter for what has the potential to be the most bonkers three weeks in the history of history (mostly because the college lacrosse season has removed itself from reality and now inhabits a place where Salvador Dali paints the brushstrokes of existence).

Anyway, here's the heat on Syracuse at Duke.

Duke Blue Devils: Tournament Three-Seed (ACC, At-Large)

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

Record 13-4 Clear % 84.80% (25)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 36.21 (5) Opp. Clear % 87.01% (49)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 26.89 (18) Faceoff % 54.77% (15)
Poss. Percentage 50.04% (32) Pace 65.50 (31)
Off. Poss./60 min. 32.78 (30)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 32.72 (34)
Save Percentage 50.48%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.28 (46) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 27.45% (23) Goal Differential +37
Opp. Effective Sht. % 28.37% (25) Shooting % 29.38% (30)
Def. Assist Rate 16.01 (25) Effective Sht. % 30.00% (30)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.12 (51) Assist Rate 17.06 (30)
Man-Down Conversion % 46.27% (51) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.11 (21)
Man-Down Reliance 0.20 (59) EMO Conversion % 22.22% (56)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.22 (29) EMO Reliance 0.07 (55)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.45 (21)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.37 (56)

Syracuse Orange: Unseeded (Big East, Automatic Qualifer)

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

Record 8-6 Clear % 87.93% (11)
Adj. Off. Efficiency 30.38 (28) Opp. Clear % 80.49% (9)
Adj. Def. Efficiency 25.76 (10) Faceoff % 47.53% (41)
Poss. Percentage 50.09% (31) Pace 69.88 (10)
Off. Poss./60 min. 35.00 (15)
DEFENSIVE STATS Def. Poss./60 min. 34.88 (46)
Save Percentage 50.85%
Saves/Def. Poss. 0.27 (55) OFFENSIVE STATS
Opp. Sht. %. 28.83% (28) Goal Differential +22
Opp. Effective Sht. % 29.89% (30) Shooting % 28.74% (32)
Def. Assist Rate 13.80 (11) Effective Sht. % 29.52% (33)
Man-Down/Def. Poss. 0.11 (42) Assist Rate 18.93 (21)
Man-Down Conversion % 42.86% (48) EMO per Off. Poss. 0.13 (9)
Man-Down Reliance 0.19 (57) EMO Conversion % 38.57% (22)
C/T per Def. Poss. 0.25 (18) EMO Reliance 0.16 (8)
Turnovers/Off. Poss. 0.42 (12)
Opp. Saves/Off. Poss. 0.36 (51)

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

  • In the first meeting between the two teams at MetLife Stadium, a significant portion of play was determined by extra-man opportunities. (Each had five chances with the personnel imbalance in their favor, with the Orange converting on two and the Devils converting on one.) I wouldn't be surprised if Saturday brings similar circumstances: Only 10 teams play in man-down more than Duke this season and Syracuse isn't much better, ranking 42nd nationally in man-down per defensive possession. Neither team has had great success with their man-up units this season (the Blue Devils are only converting on just over 22 percent of their opportunities and Syracuse is clicking at about 39 percent on the season), but unlike Duke, Syracuse has had strong reliance on extra-man opportunities to generate tallies. With the Orange's efforts with the personnel imbalance in their favor seeing strong improvement through the Big East Tournament, Duke is going to need to take care to not take a ton of boneheaded penalties in order to limit one of Syracuse's preferred vehicles to make the scoreboard blink. I don't think that Duke necessarily needs to capitalize on their man-up opportunities to win -- only six teams rely on the personnel imbalance less to score -- but with Syracuse's generally poor performance in the man-down this season it could be the difference between the Devils blowing the game open or dancing with a knife in a back alley.
  • Taking a look at possession margin and possession percentage, Syracuse and Duke square pretty evenly. The controlling factors for Saturday -- according to my super brain -- may just be Duke's efforts at the dot (specifically, C.J. Costabile and Brendan Fowler against the seven nation army that John Desko rolls out there) and the Orange's effort on its ride. The primary reason that the Devils are hanging around an even possession margin mark is that Costabile and Fowler have combined for a 54.3 percent win rate; for Syracuse, the team's margin is being driven -- in a cumulative sense -- through the team's ride rate. As the Devils haven't exactly cleared the ball without issue this season and as the Orange still haven't completely solved their face-off issues, the balance between the two may dictate which team will finish the day with more opportunities than the other. Or they could just put on jet packs, play the game on the moon, and let anti-gravity control the pace of play.
  • Dear Dan Wigrizer and Bobby Wardwell: It's kind of on you guys on Saturday. Neither Duke or Syracuse shoots particularly well, and a piece of that has to do with the share rate they see on the offensive end (which isn't necessarily a bad thing when talking about either of these teams). What you see out of the Devils and Orange is an opponent save rate per possession that is among the worst in the country. Basically, these teams are throwing a lot of saveable shots at the cage. This fact, though, has a huge mitigating factor this weekend: Wigrizer's save percentage is just under 52 percent; Wardwell's is just under 54 percent. Each netminder has seemingly improved over the year, but Saturday may be determined by which goalie is able to make an average shooting team remain average (or worse) and which one makes an average shooting team look above average. Syracuse may be in a better position in this department given how well the Orange have limited assisted goal opportunities this season, but this is still going to come down to pure ball stopping and it's not exactly clear whether Wigrizer or Wardwell has a decided edge.