It's the 2012 NCAA lacrosse Final Four! 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.
Maryland Terrapins: Unseeded
Here are three pieces of incredibly important information about Maryland from my brain to your eyes via your Internet computing machine:
- Right off the top: Maryland is going to slow this thing down on Saturday, but you already know that. Only three teams play fewer total possessions per 60 minutes of play than the Terps and a big reason for that -- other than patiently holding the ball in the offensive end, generating shots and picking their spots -- is that they've cleared the ball like crazy pants this season. On Saturday, though, I can see the Terrapins really valuing possession (read: lulling the nation to sleep) due to a simple fact: C.J. Costabile (and to an assumed lesser extent, Greg DeLuca) should have a pretty good day against Curtis Holmes at the dot. (Each team's riding games are nothing to write home about.) Holmes has been dinged up all season and hasn't quite dominated on the whistle (he's drawing at 50 percent on the year) as he did in 2011 while Costabile, a horse on the draw and on ground balls (especially off the swipe), is sitting squarely at 53 percent on the season. If the possession margin swings toward the Devils on the day -- which it has, to a degree, in 2012 -- I can see Maryland really driving the pace of this thing into the ground to maximize their opportunities and keep the ball away from a dangerous Duke offense that will be operating against a maturing, and still relatively young, Terrapins defense.
- Outside of the tempo at which Maryland's offense operates (which is atrocious), there really is a lot to like about how the Terps go about their offensive business. They fire a ton of shots at the cage per offensive possession and are pretty accurate in the overall. They share the ball as well as any team in the country -- Cummings, Blye, and Haus are incredibly dangerous with the ball in their crosses not just because they can get it on their own, but because they're apt to share the love with their friends -- and they just don't turn the bean over when they possess it. It's pragmatism in its strongest form: efficient and deadly. If it would just operate a little quicker, I think Maryland would receive the same kind of attention that Denver, Colgate, and Duke receive.
- It hasn't burned the Blue Devils throughout the postseason, but I'll continue to write it: Duke has a problem with taking penalties and playing in man-down situations (only 12 teams play in a personnel imbalance disadvantage more than Duke on the year). Maryland, while they don't play in man-up situations all that much (nor do the Terps rely on the extra-attacker to score), has been clicking at 41.86 percent in extra-man opportunities this season. If the Terrapins get these opportunities from Duke and capitalize on them, Maryland has a really good opportunity to build out a cushion and take control of the game. This is due, of course, to a simple fact: The Terrapins will do everything in their power to control possession; with the cushion, Tillman creates a situation where the Devils may want to press, creating circumstances very similar to what the nation saw last week with Maryland-Johns Hopkins. At worst, it allow the Terrapins to work normally, making Duke gamble that they can control Maryland's efficiency. Specials, I think, are important here not necessarily because of what happens during personnel imbalance scenarios, but how those personnel imbalance scenarios will impact even play.
For more on Maryland's opponent -- Duke -- check out the Greyhounds' profile here.