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NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Quarterfinals: (5) North Carolina v. (4) Denver

Everything you need to know about the Tar Heels and Pioneers ahead of their quarterfinals bout at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Rob Carr

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: Sunday, 2:30 P.M.
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Broadcast: ESPNU
Game "Fun Factor" Rank: 2nd (5.3620)
log5 Victory Probabilities: North Carolina -- 61.79%; Denver -- 38.21%
First Round: (5) North Carolina d. Lehigh (16-7); (4) Denver d. Albany (19-14)

From Right In Front Of Your Face

(4) Denver Pioneers: ECAC, At-Large

Record 13-4 Clearing Rate 93.38% (2)
Adj. Off. Eff. 42.12 (1) Riding Rate 5.66% (63)
Adj. Def. Eff. 32.47 (36) Faceoff % 51.25% (26)
Adj. Eff. Margin 9.65 (5) Pace 59.67 (60)
Pyth. Win Exp. 69.14% (10) Off. Opps./60 Min. 30.68 (51)
Opps. Margin 1.69 (20) Def. Opps./60 Min. 28.99 (2)
Opps. Ratio 51.41% (18)
Save % 56.42% (10) Sht. % 34.23% (3)
Saves/100 Def. Opps. 42.37 (6) Opnt. Save % 44.62% (4)
Shts/Def. Opp. 1.27 (59) Saves/100 Off. Opps. 33.02 (29)
Opnt. Sht. % 25.87% (12) Shts/Off. Opp. 1.20 (7)
Def. Assist Rate 18.88 (45) Off. Assist Rate 22.96 (3)
EMD/100 Def. Opps. 9.84 (20) EMO/100 Off. Opps. 12.14 (17)
EMD Conversion % 30.61% (19) EMO Conversion % 34.38% (33)
EMD Reliance 9.20% (13) EMO Reliance 10.19% (47)
Opnt. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 35.74 (63) T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 40.61 (11)
Opnt. Unforc. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 16.67 (63) Unforc. T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 20.30 (14)
Caused T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 19.08 (46) Opnt. Caused T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 20.30 (20)


North Carolina Tar Heels: ACC, At-Large

Record 13-3 Clearing Rate 88.89% (16)
Adj. Off. Eff. 40.52 (2) Riding Rate 13.11% (39)
Adj. Def. Eff. 26.75 (16) Faceoff % 51.64% (24)
Adj. Eff. Margin 13.77 (2) Pace 69.96 (10)
Pyth. Win Exp. 78.37% (2) Off. Opps./60 Min. 34.76 (17)
Opps. Margin -0.43 (34) Def. Opps./60 Min. 35.20 (45)
Opps. Ratio 49.69% (34)
Save % 55.40% (16) Sht. % 32.78% (7)
Saves/100 Def. Opps. 34.33 (27) Opnt. Save % 48.45% (14)
Shts/Def. Opp. 1.04 (19) Saves/100 Off. Opps. 3.19 (46)
Opnt. Sht. % 26.61% (18) Sht/Off. Opp. 1.17 (13)
Def. Assist Rate 14.96 (14) Off. Assist Rate 21.93 (8)
EMD/100 Def. Opps. 9.15 (12) EMO/100 Off. Opps. 9.80 (40)
EMD Conversion % 38.46% (45) EMO Conversion % 41.82% (9)
EMD Reliance 12.74% (43) EMO Reliance 10.65% (45)
Opnt. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 44.01 (34) T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 35.65 (4)
Opnt. Unforc. T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 22.01 (41) Unforc. T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 18.72 (4)
Caused T/O per 100 Def. Opps. 22.01 (28) Opnt. Caused T/O per 100 Off. Opps. 16.93 (8)


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

  • The strongest two offenses in the country are going to try and light Lucas Oil Stadium on fire. There will be explosions and probably an inquiry from the United Nations regarding whether the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons was breached. Both teams are more than capable of making the scoreboard blink at a rate that causes epileptics to swear off watching live lacrosse; the issue isn't whether these teams -- and their offensive protagonists -- can keep up with each other but rather what secondary circumstances will allow them to accomplish. These are deeply balanced offensive teams, getting important contributions from both the midfield and attack (in their own special ways). Each team's combustion is driven from the offensive end of the field (more so for Denver than North Carolina, but the Heels' strongest unit is the one that features Marcus Holman doing whatever the hell he damn well pleases), and the display they'll put on in Indianapolis is a special kind of event.
  • With each team featuring hyper-elite offenses, there are two things that may dictate the outcome of the game:
    • FACEOFFS: North Carolina will roll R.G. Keenan -- a brick of a guy -- out to the faceoff dot for the Heels; Denver will counter with Chase Carraro, one of the most dangerous players in the nation on the whistle when he wins the ball to himself and starts charging into the defensive end. It's going to be a war at the dot, an exercise in contrast, and the outcome of those battles are incredibly important: Earning a possession advantage on the day (faceoff play is likely the possession-generation driver in Indianapolis as clearing play is likely to result in a wash (or close to it) between the two teams (contingent on Carolina's ride)) could become the difference between playing square, behind, or ahead given the strength of these two offenses. Faceoff play holds special importance for Denver as (1) the Pioneers play at a more pragmatic pace than the Tar Heels (pace dictation), and (2) the Tar Heels' defense is a little stronger than what the Pioneers have, and Denver may need to insulate its unit from overexposure to Carolina's multi-faceted attack (offensive possessions serving as opportunities to both score and not yield a score).
    • DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE: Both defenses will be tested (no doink), but each team is probably looking at different things as bricks to success. For Denver, if Jamie Faus and Ryan LaPlante come correct, the Pioneers should be in a decent position to succeed. (Trevor Tierney, a volunteer assistant for Denver and a guy that knows a thing or two about stopping shots, has no worries about how Faus and LaPlante will perform against Carolina.) The Pioneers rely on Faus and LaPlante to end tons of defensive opportunities and the two keepers have done so with aplomb this year against a schedule ranked 26th in opposing offenses faced. Against North Carolina, a team that picks corners and whips the ball around the box to find players in preferable positions to convert, Faus and LaPlante are going to have to have their best performances this season as the anchors to the Pioneers' defensive unit. For Carolina, the focus isn't necessarily on Kieran Burke's performance in the crease but rather how the Tar Heels' field defense responds to a Denver offense that drips with ability: It's all about execution and focus for Carolina's field defense -- maintaining an eye on Eric Law while also monitoring off-ball movement; not letting Denver's midfield run past their mark; and pushing transition if the opportunity arises. The Tar Heels' field defense has come a long way in just one season; is it ready for the stiffest test it will face all season?