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2015 CAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview

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THUNDERDOME! opens its tournament with Fairfield in the pole position.

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Everything that's worth knowing about the THUNDERDOME! Tournament.

Participants

2015 THUNDERDOME! TOURNAMENT
SEED TEAM CAA RECORD LEAGUE WINS LEAGUE LOSSES
1. Fairfield 4-1 Drexel, Massachusetts, Delaware, Hofstra Towson
2. Drexel 3-2 Hofstra, Delaware, Towson Fairfield, Massachusetts
3. Towson 3-2 Massachusetts, Delaware, Fairfield Hofstra, Drexel
4. Massachusetts 2-3 Hofstra, Drexel Towson, Fairfield, Delaware

Times, Dates of Matchups

Thursday, April 30, 2015 (Semifinals -- at Fairfield):

  • (3) Towson v. (2) Drexel: 4:00 PM (ET)
  • (4) Massachusetts v. (1) Fairfield: 7:00 PM (ET)

Saturday, May 2, 2015 (Championship -- at Fairfield):

  • Semifinal I Winner v. Semifinal II Winner: 1:00 PM (ET)

Television/Internet

THUNDERDOME! will stream the semifinals live through its web concern -- CAA.tv. The THUNDERDOME! Tournament championship will air on the American Sports Network (check your local listings for "Knife Fight -- TBA"). Please coat your computer and television screen in the appropriate level of blood.

League Tournament Spirit Animal

A zombie lion with an eye patch and an ax stuck in its skull.

Conference Attribute Profile

Here's how THUNDERDOME! compares to the rest of the nation:

THUNDERDOME!: 2015 CONFERENCE ATTRIBUTE PROFILE
LEAGUE LEAGUE STRENGTH RANK INTERNAL COMPETITIVENESS RANK AVG. WIN% RANK
THUNDERDOME! 52.54% 6/10 0.1006 2/10 46.40% 7/10

Truncated Scouting Reports

The stylistic profiles of the THUNDERDOME! Tournament's participants looks as follows:

THUNDERDOME!: 2015 TRUNCATED SCOUTING REPORTS
METRIC FAIRFIELD DREXEL TOWSON UMASS
Estimated Pace 58.44 (59) 60.30 (51) 54.10 (69) 59.08 (57)
Estimated Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +2.83 (16) +1.14 (25) +0.56 (28) -1.38 (45)
Estimated Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio -2.38% (49) +0.38% (37) +5.19% (15) +2.14% (29)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 30.55 (40) 29.75 (48) 29.67 (50) 35.98 (15)
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.11 (37) 1.26 (7) 1.26 (6) 1.19 (20)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity 58.63% (37) 53.51% (62) 52.25% (67) 62.70% (10)
Offensive Shooting Rate 28.27% (32) 22.51% (62) 23.36% (59) 28.99% (27)
Offensive Assist Rate 17.78 (35) 15.31 (49) 14.43 (57) 24.53 (6)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 27.06 (9) 31.68 (37) 26.99 (8) 34.02 (52)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.11 (32) 1.19 (52) 1.17 (47) 1.14 (39)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 57.53% (22) 54.56% (5) 55.28% (8) 63.03% (66)
Defensive Shooting Rate 23.52% (5) 27.59% (29) 23.15% (4) 32.07% (60)
Defensive Assist Rate 16.28 (24) 16.87 (29) 12.89 (9) 20.87 (58)
Faceoff Percentage 55.75% (14) 54.87% (17) 49.81% (32) 43.99% (56)
Clearing Percentage 83.77% (45) 87.61% (15) 87.44% (18) 85.71% (34)
Turnover Margin -0.45 (40) +0.36 (33) +6.86 (16) +2.37 (29)
"Run of Play" Groundballs Margin +3.15 (15) -0.83 (41) -2.60 (52) +1.30 (25)
Penalties Margin +3.03 (2) -1.54 (62) 0.00 (32) 0.00 (32)
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 37.91 (15) 32.05 (46) 37.63 (17) 35.37 (26)
Team Save Percentage 59.13% (5) 49.44% (49) 58.13% (7) 49.12% (51)

Three Things

  • Massachusetts' defensive profile is one of existential crisis. The Minutemen aren't efficient at generating defensive stops and the team yields a high ratio of shots on goal, those shots taken against a goalkeeping corps that holds a 49.12 save percentage. The residue is that opponents are shooting north of 32 percent against Massachusetts -- the team's defensive shots on goal shooting rate (50.88 percent) ranks 51st nationally -- against a shot volume that isn't impossibly excessive. Part of the Minutemen's defensive issues lie with the team's proclivity for ball watching: Massachusetts ranks well into the bottom third of the country in defensive assist rate with opponents generating helpers on over 20 percent of the Minutemen's defensive opportunities. None of this is good, and combined with a negative possession margin per 60 minutes, Massachusetts' defense has created circumstances in which a pretty good offense needs perform like an exemplary one in order to keep the Minutemen in the same atmosphere as their opponents. This is the wrong kind of balance for a team that -- in the overall -- is pretty average (or at least close to pretty average), and the Minutemen need to find some momentum at the defensive end of the field in Connecticut this weekend if Massachusetts hopes to create some havoc in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament.
  • Seeds don't matter in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament. When the arena is filled with starving predators the norms of society are extinguished. In the last 10 THUNDERDOME! Tournaments the top seed has made the final game eight times but has won the championship only twice. In fact, the four-seed in the THUNDERDOME! Tournament has as many titles in the last decade of THUNDERDOME! terror as the one-seed. Things have a habit of going sideways quickly in this postseason event unlike any other, the consequence being instantly shattered limbs, faces, and dreams. 2015 has the potential to replicate the league's bloody past:
    log5 PROBABILITIES: PROBABILITY OF WINNING THE THUNDERDOME! TOURNAMENT
    RANK TEAM PROBABILITY
    1. Fairfield 36.66%
    2. Towson 29.87%
    3. Massachusetts 18.69%
    4. Drexel 14.77%
  • A Towson-Fairfield final looks somewhat expected, and if that matchup comes to fruition, it's possible that a Tigers-Stags final could feature one of the slowest defensive-oriented games of the season. Both teams have had exceptional defensive seasons in 2015 and neither team is particularly built to run up and down the field in a showcase of dirty speed and fluid motion. For what it may lack in aesthetics, though, the game would make up for in blunt force and disciplined defensive functions. The regular season meeting between the two schools netted only 15 goals -- an 8-7 victory for Towson -- and the Massey Ratings project only 14 goals going on the board if Towson meets Fairfield at Rafferty Stadium. There's a kind of misguided beauty in teams with these stylistic profiles meeting in a huge moment, even if it runs opposite to what is perceived as alluring in the current Division I game.