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2015 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview: Johns Hopkins at (7) Virginia

It's going to be close in Charlottesville.

Jay Paul/Getty Images

Everything that's worth knowing about Johns Hopkins-Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

From 10,000 Feet

Date and Time: Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 1:00 PM (ET)
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Winner Advances To Play?: The winner of Marist-Syracuse
Television/Internet: ESPNU/WatchESPN; Mike Corey and Matt Ward have the call
Game "Fun Factor": 4.90 ("Very Solid")
Massey Ratings Victory Probabilities:

Virginia Johns Hopkins Virginia // 56% Johns Hopkins // 44% Virginia (12.41) - Johns Hopkins (11.77)

The best game of the first round is one that will feature 14 combined national championships and 80 NCAA Tournament appearances. The first meeting between the Blue Jays and Cavaliers this year brought forth a 16-15 overtime victory for Virginia, the 'Hoos pumping in the game's last three goals -- two coming in the final 1:34 of regulation -- to earn the win and the right to possess the Doyle Smith Cup. The meeting between the two teams this weekend is expected to be just as close: In a tempo-free environment, Virginia holds an impossibly tight 50.54 percent chance of victory against Hopkins. Whether purposefully or on accident, the Selection Committee's decision to send the Jays to Charlottesville instead of Durham -- most bracket projections prior to the official announcement had Johns Hopkins paired with Duke in the first round -- created a heroically tense situation on Virginia's home field.

What's Your Deal?

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 37 (Last: 2014)
NCAA Tournament Championships: Five (Last: 2011)
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: At-Large
Record: 10-4 (0-4, ACC)
Combustibles: Greg Coholan (A) (37G, 13A); Matt Barrett (G) (56.48 Sv%); Davi Sacco (D) (25GB, 22CTO); Ryan Lukacovic (A) (20G, 26A)

Johns Hopkins
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 43 (Last: 2014)
NCAA Tournament Championships: Nine (Last: 2007)
NCAA Tournament Bid Type: Automatic Qualifier (Big Ten)
Record: 9-6 (4-2, Big Ten)
Combustibles: Ryan Brown (A) (54G, 10A); Joel Tinney (M) (22G, 9A); John Kelly (D) (31GB, 10CTO); Nick Fields (13GB, 10CTO)

Truncated Scouting Reports

Estimated Pace 61.83 (43) 68.16 (14)
Estimated Opportunities per 60 Minutes Margin +1.05 (25) +0.14 (34)
Estimated Lost Functional Opportunities Margin Ratio +4.47% (19) +2.45% (29)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 39.68 (8) 36.49 (13)
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.23 (13) 1.07 (49)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Offensive Opportunity 60.58% (20) 61.91% (14)
Offensive Shooting Rate 32.08% (13) 33.98% (7)
Offensive Assist Rate 24.27 (6) 21.50 (13)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 31.52 (36) 28.27 (15)
Shots per Defensive Opportunity 1.09 (25) 1.20 (54)
Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 57.43% (19) 58.67% (33)
Defensive Shooting Rate 30.69% (54) 25.57% (14)
Defensive Assist Rate 17.53 (34) 16.77 (28)
Faceoff Percentage 53.59% (19) 46.61% (44)
Clearing Percentage 86.50% (28) 89.63% (6)
Turnover Margin +4.31 (24) +3.51 (27)
"Run of Play" Groundballs Margin -0.32 (36) +1.67 (22)
Penalties Margin +2.34 (5) -2.30 (68)
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 29.22 (64) 39.62 (9)
Team Save Percentage 46.55% (62) 56.42% (11)

Two Things

  • Johns Hopkins' reputation in recent seasons has been built on one of the strongest defenses in the nation. In 2015, however, the Jays have witnessed their strength move to the offensive end, the team's defense struggling to complement its goal-scoring show. This is part of the issue that has complicated Hopkins' season: With a top 10 offense, a defense hanging around the fat middle of the nation, and a decent but not exceptional positive possession margin, the Jays have netted their strength against their weakness and the residue has been a season in which Johns Hopkins has hung around the top 20 percent of Division I lacrosse. This is probably best illustrated through a comparison of the Blue Jays' non-adjusted Pythagorean win expectation value (the measure considers a team's expected winning percentage based solely on adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency values) and Hopkins' adjusted Pythagorean win expectation value (the measure folds in a team's possession margin profile): Under the former measure, Johns Hopkins is expected to win 67.12 percent of its games in 2015, a mark that ranks 12th nationally; under the latter measure, Hopkins is expected to succeed on 68.55 percent of its competition dates, a value that ranks 15th in Division I. In an atmosphere in which Hopkins needs balance between its offensive and defensive enterprises, the team has not been able to pull its defense forward to match the output that the Jays' offense is generating. It's unbelievably weird to write that Johns Hopkins' defense has been the team's Achilles' heel this season, but it's impossible to ignore the limitations that it has created for the Blue Jays this spring.
  • Virginia's defense went into 2015 with massive questions, a unit pivoting from a very uneven 2014 effort while also transitioning from personnel losses that included Scott McWilliams, Greg Danseglio, Tanner Scales, Joe Lisicky, Chris LaPierre, and Bobby Hill. The assumption was that the Cavaliers' offense would need to sustain the 'Hoos this season if Virginia hoped to legitimately compete at the upper levels of college lacrosse, lighting up the scoreboard in a purposeful pursuit of simply mitigating a leaky defense. As it turns out, not only did the Cavaliers' defense patch its defensive holes from last spring, but the team's stoppers also significantly improved in the overall from 2014:
    Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 28.55 21 28.27 15
    Shots per Defensive Opportunity 0.95 4
    1.20 54
    Shots on Goal per Defensive Opportunity 0.58 8 0.70 53
    Ratio of Shots on Goal to Total Shots per Defensive Opportunity 60.87% 57
    58.67% 33
    Raw Defensive Shooting Rate 32.25% 62 25.57% 14
    Raw Defensive Shots on Goal Shooting Rate 52.98% 61 43.58% 11
    Defensive Assist Rate 18.21 40 16.77 28
    Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 27.15 66 39.62 9
    Team Save Percentage 47.02% 61 56.42% 11
    Strength of Schedule: Opposing Offenses Faced 33.24 12 33.99 8
    Barrett's growth in the cage has notably impacted the team's defensive progression over the last 12 months, but Barrett has not done this all in a vacuum: Six major contributors from Virginia's defense in 2014 have been replaced and the Cavaliers' defense is impressively stronger than a season ago.