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NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Quarterfinals: Cornell v. (3) Ohio State

Everything you need to know about the Big Red and Buckeyes ahead of their quarterfinals bout at Byrd Stadium.


It's the 2013 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.

From 10,000 Feet

Date and Time: Saturday, 12:30 P.M.
Location: Byrd Stadium, College Park, Maryland
Broadcast: ESPN2
Game "Fun Factor" Rank: 1st (5.4536)
log5 Victory Probabilities: Ohio State -- 30.98%; Cornell -- 69.02%
First Round: (3) Ohio State d. Towson (16-6); Cornell d. (6) Maryland (16-8)

From Right In Front Of Your Face

(3) Ohio State Buckeyes: ECAC, Automatic Qualifier

Record 13-3 Clearing Rate 90.33% (6)
Adj. Off. Eff. 34.66 (13) Riding Rate 11.99% (49)
Adj. Def. Eff. 27.75 (18) Faceoff % 57.80% (8)
Adj. Eff. Margin 6.91 (12) Pace 63.98 (47)
Pyth. Win Exp. 66.59% (13) Off. Opps./60 Min. 34.23 (22)
Opps. Margin 4.48 (5) Def. Opps./60 Min. 29.75 (5)
Opps. Ratio 53.50% (5)
Save % 54.73 (20) Sht. % 33.27% (5)
Saves/100 Def. Opps. 33.89 (31) Opnt. Save % 48.46% (15)
Shts/Def. Opp. 1.06 (26) Saves/100 Off. Opps. 31.45 (17)
Opnt. Sht. % 26.43% (16) Shts/Off. Opp. 1.01 (52)
Def. Assist Rate 15.27 (16) Off. Assist Rate 21.09 (13)
EMD/100 Def. Opps. 7.74 (6) EMO/100 Off. Opps. 8.36 (56)
EMD Conversion % 32.43% (26) EMO Conversion % 50.00% (2)
EMD Reliance 8.96% (12) EMO Reliance 12.50% (26)
Opnt. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 40.79 (51) T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 35.09 (3)
Opnt. Unforc. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 23.43 (30) Unforc. T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 18.73 (5)
Caused T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 17.36 (60) Opnt. Caused T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 16.36 (6)


Cornell Big Red: Ivy, At-Large

Record 13-3 Clearing Rate 87.07% (29)
Adj. Off. Eff. 38.78 (4) Riding Rate 17.95% (7)
Adj. Def. Eff. 23.98 (4) Faceoff % 55.56% (13)
Adj. Eff. Margin 14.81 (1) Pace 74.47 (3)
Pyth. Win Exp. 81.62% (1) Off. Opps./60 Min. 38.33 (2)
Opps. Margin 2.18 (15) Def. Opps./60 Min. 36.15 (57)
Opps. Ratio 51.46% (16)
Save % 51.71 (38) Sht. % 31.91% (10)
Saves/100 Def. Opps. 26.03 (63) Opnt. Save % 43.41% (3)
Shts/100 Def. Opps. 0.92 (4) Saves/100 Off. Opps. 28.94 (6)
Opnt. Sht. % 26.40% (15) Sht/Off. Opp. 1.18 (11)
Def. Assist Rate 13.62 (6) Off. Assist Rate 19.67 (17)
EMD/100 Def. Opps. 10.00 (22) EMO/100 Off. Opps. 8.13 (58)
EMD Conversion % 24.14% (6) EMO Conversion % 38.00% (17)
EMD Reliance 9.93% (18) EMO Reliance 8.19% (59)
Opnt. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 51.03 (9) T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 39.02 (10)
Opnt. Unforc. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 23.45 (28) Unforc. T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 22.44 (28)
Caused T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 27.59 (9) Opnt. Caused T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 16.59 (7)


Audible: Interesting Question

An Ohio State fan sent this question along last night:

The answer is both straightforward and layered (which, of course, bends time and reality). In the first instance, it's important to remember that the committee that is charged with selecting and seeding the field isn't a pool of lacrosse people making decisions on how lacrosse teams have performed. Rather, the committee is comprised primarily of administrators -- from associations and schools -- that are required to apply the NCAA's criteria for selecting and seeding the championship field. That criteria is based in large part on the RPI -- a flawed metric (importantly, it does not consider margin of victory and only looks a team's wins and losses and the wins and losses of that team's opponents (and the opponents of those opponents)) -- and the committee must to apply the given data relative to the criteria. Based on that criteria (arguably flawed criteria), Ohio State had a stronger resume than Cornell. Now, there are arguments that the Buckeyes were overseeded entering The Big Barbecue and that the Red should have earned a seed, but those arguments are built around whether the criteria was applied correctly (not necessarily whether the criteria was flawed).

The second instance illustrates the difference between the two team's tempo-free profiles and their RPI resumes: The tempo-free profiles care about margin of victory (it is an important factor in determining relative strength, and any rating or performance evaluation system worth its weight in retweets considers margin of victory). In a tempo-free environment, the Red are among the top teams in the country this season: Adjusting for competition played, on a possession-by-possession basis Cornell ranks fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency and fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency; the margin between the two (basically, the team's overall performance on both ends of the field compares (a high positive value meaning that they obliterate the competition; the inverse being true for negative values)) showing overall strength. No team in the country has put together a profile that shows a better relationship between high-performance offense (scoring efficiently) and low-yielding defense (rarely allowing the opposition to score) than the Red. (Again, that's all adjusted for competition played and looks at iterations of possessions.) There's incredible balance in Cornell's overall performance (unlike a team like Denver, for instance, that drives its success from the offensive end and is nationally average at the defensive end of the field), and that's what makes them an appealing team in a tempo-free environment. As for the Buckeyes, they lag a bit behind Cornell: Ohio State is a strong team (that is getting stronger at the right time of the year) and have notable balance between their offensive and defensive units, but the Buckeyes aren't among the hyper-elite in terms of efficiency at either end of the field -- Ohio State, over the course of the season, has had a top 15-type of offense complemented with a top 20-type of defense.

From a how-lacrosse-is-played perspective, Cornell looks like the preferred bracketed team compared to Ohio State. Again, though: The committee charged with selecting and seeding the field doesn't have this kind of information at their disposal and aren't in a position to make lacrosse performance decisions about lacrosse teams. That group makes decisions that impact lacrosse teams based on only the criteria allowed for consideration. These are both very good lacrosse teams -- I'm not quite sure that the Buckeyes are the kind of underdog that the log5 projection asserts (more on this appears below) -- but in metrics that care about performance, the Red show as a decided favorite.

Points of Interest

These are a few things I'd keep an eye on regarding both teams:

  • Ohio State: Can Trey Wilkes control play at the dot and move the possession margin in the Buckeyes' favor? If so, this creates three important residues: (1) It keeps the ball out of Rob Pannell's crosse (and let's be clear: Pannell's crosse is an early-stage laser cannon); (2) It provides additional opportunities to Ohio State's strongest unit -- the offense (led by The Silver Gleaming Death Machine (Logan Schuss)) -- to dictate the outcome of the game; (3) It provides the Buckeyes' offense additional opportunities to attack an underrated Cornell defense, allowing Ohio State volume opportunities to score if they need it; and (4) It allows Ohio State to dictate the pace of play, icing a Cornell team that has played tons of possessions per 60 minutes of play this season and is dangerous in transition.
  • Cornell: Is A.J. Fiore ready to take on The Silver Gleaming Death Machine and all his goalies-are-evil friends? If the Big Red aren't in a situation where they see lots of turnovers in defensive opportunities (Ohio State does a very nice job of valuing the ball), Fiore is going to see some shots (and given the Buckeyes' shooting acumen, the Cornell keeper is going to need to make some impressive saves). This isn't a one-man adventure, though: Cornell's defense needs to support Fiore and limit the Buckeyes from taking attempts from preferable scoring locations. The Red's senior keeper, however, is probably going to need to come correct with 60 minutes of focus (and potentially a flair for big moment stops) to control Ohio State's surging offensive prowess.