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NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament First Round Preview: (4) Virginia vs Bryant

Everything you need to know about the Cavaliers and Bulldogs faceoff this Sunday

NCAA LACROSSE: MAY 27 NCAA Lacrosse Championships Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: Sunday, 12 PM ET

Location: Klockner Field, Charlottesville, Virginia

Network: ESPNU

Your Guys Anticipation Level: Low

The Nitty-Gritty Numbers

Numbers Extravangza

THE STATS Virginia Bryant
THE STATS Virginia Bryant
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 36.2% (7th) 30.3 (26th)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 36.2% (42nd) 26.8% (17th)
Adjusted FO% 65.5% (3rd) 59.5% (13th)
Clearing Percentage 85.3% (33rd) 88.6% (10th)
Ground Balls Per Game 42.86 (2nd) 36.25 (4th)

The Key Match-Ups

  • Virginia’s Offense vs Bryant’s Defense
  • As you can see from the numbers above, there is a potential edge for Bryant in the matchup between the Bulldogs offense and the Cavaliers defense. Bryant’s offense is hovering around the Top 25 in offensive efficiency and has scored 70 goals in it’s last four games. They’re 15th in Lacrosse Reference’s Exp. Sh% method, analyzing the quality of shots and chances an offense creates and “adding up the probability that all shots taken would go in with an average shooter and then divide by the total number of shots taken.” This is an offense that creates good opportunities, executes them at a relatively efficient level over the course of the season, and lately at an extremely efficient level. They were near 40% adjusted offensive efficiency in their last two games in the NEC Tournament. The big matchup in this game though is the flip side. Virginia’s offense is one of the best in the country. 7th in Offensive Efficiency. All-Americans littered everywhere from established stars such as Matt Moore (25 G, 29 A, 54 points) and Dox Aitken (15 G, 4 A, 19 points) and breakthrough studs like likely First Team All-American Connor Shellenberger (23 G, 32 A, 55 points.) They’ve developed depth over the course of the season as well, with 10 scorers having 13 points or more. They prefer an isolation dodging approach and while that’s occasionally led them to sputter out vs ACC defenses, against teams where they have a decided talent advantage, they tend to dominate. They will have that against Bryant. But this is a Bryant squad that’s 17th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. They’re really good. Are they “stifle an elite ACC offense and pull the upset of the first round good?” That’s the question that must be answered
  • In Between The Lines
  • Both these teams are absolute animals off the turf. You’ve got to love it, folks. Two Top 5 groundball teams, two Top 15 faceoff teams. It doesn’t get better than this. However one area which is intriguing is in the clearing game. Virginia has not cleared it at a level you’re accustomed to from them, only at 85.3% and 33rd in the country. Bryant meanwhile is sterling, 88.6% and 10th in the land. Lars Tiffany has spoken about working on the Cavs ride over the last few weeks while they’ve had an extended layoff. He thinks it can get back to the standard that it was at when the Cavs won their national title in 2019. It may have to if it’s going to pierce this Bryant clearing game. If it can, then Virginia likely does Virginia things and wreak havoc and stroll. But if it can’t, and the Wahoos clearing game has two or three of the failed clears we’ve seen this year...that could be an area for Bryant to exploit.

Adjusted Efficiency Stats courtesy of Lacrosse Reference. Subscribe to Lacrosse Reference PRO at LacrosseReference - PRO.