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2015 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Bryant at Marist

The Bulldogs and Red Foxes will meet for the right to face Syracuse this weekend.

Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Everything that's worth knowing about Bryant-Marist in the play-in round of the NCAA Tournament.

From 10,000 Feet

Date and Time: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 7:00 PM (ET)
Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
Winner Advances To Play?: Syracuse on May 10, 2015 at 7:30 PM (ET)
Television/Internet: will provide a stream for the game. No television.
Game "Fun Factor": 3.57 (stronger of the two play-in games)
Massey Ratings Victory Probabilities:

Marist Bryant Marist // 54% Bryant // 47% Marist (9.41) - Bryant (9.07)

It's a toss-up in the Hudson Valley.  There are a lot of ways to look at the balance of competitiveness in this thing, but it generally comes back to Marist being about a half-goal favorite to a one-goal favorite against Bryant at Tenney Stadium. The teams were paired due to their geographic locations, but the residue is an evenly-weighted midweek show.

What's Your Deal?

NCAA Tournament Appearances: Two (Last: 2005)
NCAA Tournament Championships: None
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: Automatic Qualifier (MAAC)
Record: 13-3 (6-0, MAAC)
Combustibles: Dave Scarcello (G) (57.97 Sv%); Joseph Radin (A) (49G, 16A); J.D. Recor (A) (26G, 39A); Patrick Eaker (LSM) (45GB, 16CTO)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: Three (Last: 2014)
NCAA Tournament Championships: None
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: Automatic Qualifier (Northeast Conference)
Record: 8-9 (4-2, NEC)
Combustibles: Kevin Massa (FOGO) (67.06%); Gunnar Waldt (G) (57.50 Sv%); Connor Dent (D) (45GB, 17CTO); Tucker James (A) (33G, 16A)

Truncated Scouting Reports

Estimated Pace 60.45 (49) 61.86 (42)
Estimated Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +4.70 (5) +3.31 (12)
Estimated Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio -6.94% (57) +4.43% (20)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 28.29 (54) 35.83 (17)
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 0.95 (67) 1.14 (33)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity 56.19% (52) 61.28% (16)
Offensive Shooting Rate 27.24% (43) 32.66% (11)
Offensive Assist Rate 14.77 (55) 22.22 (11)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 28.94 (20) 28.88 (19)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.21 (58) 1.22 (60)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 56.45% (12) 53.15% (2)
Defensive Shooting Rate 24.04% (6) 25.55% (1)
Defensive Assist Rate 15.58 (19) 16.42 (24)
Faceoff Percentage 67.16% (2) 55.61% (16)
Clearing Percentage 78.25% (66) 85.66% (35)
Turnover Margin -7.81 (59) +3.97 (25)
"Run of Play" Groundballs Margin -0.87 (40) +2.02 (19)
Penalties Margin +0.87 (17) -1.92 (65)
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 39.16 (11) 37.31 (17)
Team Save Percentage 57.41% (7) 57.57% (6)

Bryant's offense remains a concern, even in an environment where Massa and the team's defense have provided that unit with possession after possession to try and make rubber meet twine. There is an important difference in the offensive efficiency rates of these two offenses, the Red Foxes only needing around 28 offensive opportunities to bucket 10 goals while the Bulldogs would need 35 offensive opportunities to register the same number of tallies. That seven-possession difference is not insignificant, especially considering that it permits Marist to lose opportunities to Massa at the dot without creating disastrous circumstances for the Red Foxes. Basically, Bryant may not have enough chances to put 10 markers on the board, but Marist shouldn't have a connected issue based solely on the teams' efficiency rates. The problem for Bryant isn't possession; the issue for the Bulldogs is what Bryant does with its offensive opportunities.

Two Things

  • Marist needs to focus on turning its clearing opportunities into green zone possessions. This aspect of the game is arguably more important to the Red Foxes than trying to neutralize Massa: (1) No team in the nation earns a higher ratio of estimated defensive opportunities from opponent clearing postures than Bryant (63.37 percent); (2) The Bulldogs maintain a middling functional defensive opportunities ratio, which means that opponents are matriculating the bean up the field at an average rate against Bryant; (3) Marist's clearing percentage is a pedestrian 85.66 percent, 35th nationally; and (4) The Red Foxes have a very average functional offensive opportunities ratio, attributable exclusively to the team's less-than-exceptional ability to get the bean from one zone to the other. Marist needs to maximize its functional offensive opportunities against Bryant due to the Bulldogs' solid defense, and if the Red Foxes pitch such opportunities into the seats, it mitigates the team's ability to leverage its offensive efficiency against the Bulldogs' struggles to can the bean at a decent rate. Clearing matters, and it really matters against Bryant.
  • A huge factor in Bryant's offensive inefficiency this season is the team's lack of ball valuation. The Bulldogs are losing around 48 percent of their estimated offensive opportunities to turnovers this season, a mark that ranks 55th nationally. The team's inability to hold on to the bean exacerbates a situation in which Bryant is shooting only 27.24 percent and fails to effectively vary its points of attack, leaving fairly nice part unaligned in the machine. The scary thing about Bryant's turnover problems is that the team is almost as bad at committing unforced errors as being dispossessed of the ball:
    Unforced Turnovers per 100 Estimated Offensive Opportunities 25.05 58
    Opponent Caused Turnovers per 100 Estimated Offensive Opportunities 23.60 49
    Total Turnovers per 100 Estimated Offensive Opportunities 48.65 55
    Turnover Margin -7.81 59
    The stock response to Bryant's turnover issues is that the Bulldogs have possessions to burn given what Massa provides to the team, but that is a wholly distortive understanding of Massa, Bryant's offensive issues, and how opponents attack the Bulldogs' defense. Let's be clear on this: The Bulldogs commit unforced turnovers at a rate that almost equals the rate at which the team lights the scoreboard. In 32 offensive opportunities per 60 minutes (right around what the Bulldogs average), Bryant is expected to commit 8 giveaways -- unforced turnovers! -- and record only 9 goals; in 32 offensive opportunities per 60 minutes, Bryant is expected to commit around 6.5 more total turnovers than goals scored. That's an absolutely incredible situation.