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2015 SoCon Lacrosse Tournament Preview

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The SoCon opens its tournament with Richmond in the pole position.

Everything that's worth knowing about the SoCon Tournament.

Participants

2015 SOCON TOURNAMENT
SEED TEAM SOCON RECORD LEAGUE WINS LEAGUE LOSSES
1. Richmond 6-0 VMI, Jacksonville, Furman, High Point, Bellarmine, Mercer None
2. Mercer 5-1 High Point, Furman, Bellarmine, VMI, Jacksonville Richmond
3. High Point 4-2 Furman, Jacksonville, VMI, Bellarmine Mercer, Richmond
4. Furman 3-3 Bellarmine, VMI, Jacksonville Mercer, High Point, Richmond

Times, Dates of Matchups

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

  • (4) Furman v. (1) Richmond: 5:00 PM (ET)
  • (3) High Point v. (2) Mercer: 7:30 PM (ET)

Saturday, May 2, 2015 (Championship -- at St. Joseph's):

  • Semifinal I Winner v. Semifinal II Winner: 2:00 PM (ET)

Television/Internet

The SoCon Digital Network will broadcast -- for free! -- the league tournament's two semifinal games live from Robins Stadium while ESPN3 will handle the broadcast for the conference's championship game on Saturday.

League Tournament Spirit Animal

Primordial soup.

Conference Attribute Profile

Here's how SoCon compares to the rest of the nation:

THE SOCON: 2015 CONFERENCE ATTRIBUTE PROFILE
LEAGUE LEAGUE STRENGTH RANK INTERNAL COMPETITIVENESS RANK AVG. WIN% RANK
SoCon 38.59% 9/10 0.2391 9/10 39.56% 10/10

Truncated Scouting Reports

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

THE SOCON: 2015 TRUNCATED SCOUTING REPORTS
METRIC RICHMOND MERCER HPU FURMAN
Estimated Pace 73.01 (5) 63.72 (32) 64.22 (30) 63.11 (38)
Estimated Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +3.35 (13) -0.16 (34) +1.92 (21) -2.07 (52)
Estimated Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio +8.54% (4) -1.73% (46) +3.29% (25) -7.26% (58)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 31.44 (33) 26.27 (60) 34.75 (18) 23.61 (65)
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 0.99 (63) 1.27 (4) 1.12 (35) 1.12 (36)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity 65.66% (2) 56.12% (52) 65.45% (3) 53.03% (65)
Offensive Shooting Rate 32.45% (13) 20.82% (66) 30.71% (18) 21.07% (65)
Offensive Assist Rate 19.81 (19) 14.47 (56) 19.40 (21) 11.68 (63)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 22.67 (3) 35.48 (56) 33.18 (44) 29.20 (22)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.88 (1) 1.22 (59) 1.15 (44) 1.15 (41)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 59.81% (41) 61.68% (59) 64.29% (68) 56.44% (12)
Defensive Shooting Rate 24.07% (8) 28.21% (36) 28.17% (35) 24.89% (10)
Defensive Assist Rate 11.48 (1) 17.74 (37) 17.16 (31) 14.25 (12)
Faceoff Percentage 46.44% (43) 50.90% (30) 58.26% (10) 44.07% (55)
Clearing Percentage 92.14% (1) 86.82% (26) 90.83% (3) 87.03% (24)
Turnover Margin +13.48 (1) -2.28 (47) +6.65 (17) -7.95 (57)
"Run of Play" Groundballs Margin +4.89 (7) +3.87 (12) -0.11 (36) -6.44 (66)
Penalties Margin -0.10 (35) -0.13 (38) +0.78 (19) +1.58 (9)
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 31.35 (51) 40.87 (6) 41.65 (4) 36.13 (21)
Team Save Percentage 59.77% (4) 54.27% (19) 56.17% (12) 55.91% (14)

Three Things

  • Richmond is only a second-year program but the Spiders have a handful of performance aspects that look like a 20-year veteran of the game. Richmond's exhibition of ball valuation is exceptional: No team in the nation has a better turnover margin on a per-possession basis than the Spiders and Richmond ranks third nationally in turnovers per offensive opportunity; the Spiders do a tremendous job at identifying and corralling loose balls in the run of play, the team's margin in that metric ranking among the top 10 in Division I; and Richmond clears the ball as well as any team in the nation, matriculating the bean from their defensive end into the green zone at a rate that sits at the top of the country. Richmond isn't sloppy and the Spiders don't beat themselves in important areas of play, these efforts increasing the team's overall efficiency to a degree that seemingly exceeds where a program in its development stage should exist. The little things build into the bigger things, and Richmond has -- in only 31 games as a viable enterprise -- locked its focus on excelling at points of play that carry impact -- no matter how small -- on results. In a league where instability often breeds circumstances conducive to chaos, Richmond has avoided imploding. If there's anything that highlights the Spiders' potential trajectory it's the team's exceptional attention to detail.
  • This is the second year in a row that Mercer has overachieved relative to the team's expected performance output. That isn't a backhanded compliment of the Bears: Winning when factors indicate losses takes some stones, and Mercer has squeezed out success in their conference in consecutive seasons where data has forecast that the Bears should have meandered to less than stellar results. The Bears rank only 60th nationally in adjusted Pythagorean win expectation and 61st in LaxPower's rating model, those positions indicating that Mercer should have finished their 2015 campaign in the bottom half of the Southern Conference (only Jacksonville and VMI hold rankings in both measures that are below Mercer). The Bears, however, assembled a mind-bending 5-1 league campaign, hammering home three overtime victories against conference competition that elevated the team to the second seed in the Southern Conference Tournament. This may demonstrate that the Bears are a shaky pick to progress through the postseason event, but that ultimately matters less than the fact that Mercer has seemingly found renewed purpose in its conference. That's a good thing: Leagues like the Southern Conference are relevant, in part, due to the fact that they provide an opportunity, and the Bears have seized that opportunity two years in a row.
  • High Point is a bit of a difficult read in the Southern Conference and that's probably attributable to the fact that the Panthers took an inexplicable loss to Mercer early in their conference campaign and were assaulted in their regular season meeting with Richmond. High Point is arguably the second best team in the conference at this point in the season despite the team's seed in the SoCon Tournament, and while toppling Richmond at Robins Stadium would require a solid effort from the Panthers, High Point is in good shape relative to most of the Southern Conference Tournament field. The Massey Ratings confirm this feeling:
    HIGH POINT PREDICTIONS: SOCON TOURNAMENT OPPONENTS (POTENTIAL AND ACTUAL)
    OPPONENT WIN PROBABILITY MEAN SCORE
    v. Mercer 79% 11.89-8.33
    at Richmond 28% 9.18-11.69
    v. Furman 76% 10.27-7.20
    (A log5 analysis essentially conforms to the win probability provided by the Massey Ratings.) One-in-four odds to earn the league's automatic invitation to The Show aren't great but they also aren't horrendous, and it takes only 60 minutes to shoot math out of a cannon and into the sun where it will burn up instantaneously.