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NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament First Round Preview: (6) Notre Dame vs Drexel

In one of the more intriguing matchups of the first round; two of the most well balanced teams in the country faceoff for a berth in the Quarterfinals

NCAA LACROSSE: MAY 18 NCAA Lacrosse Championships Quarterfinals Photo by Alan Schaefer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: Saturday, 5 PM ET, ESPNU

Location: Peter Barton Stadium, Denver, Colorado

Network: ESPNU

LaxRef Win Probability: 64.8%

Your Guys Anticipation Level: Palpable

The Nitty Gritty Numbers

Numbers Bonanza

THE STATS Notre Dame Drexel
THE STATS Notre Dame Drexel
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 36.2% (6th) 34.2% (11th)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 22.2% (4th) 26.1% (11th)
Adjusted FO% 63.5% (9th) 49.1% (34th)
Clearing Percentage 86.5% (25th) 87.4% (17th)
Ground Balls Per Game 35.40 (8th) 33.0 (20th)

The Key Matchups

  • The Clearing Game
  • We’ve talked about this one a lot in various other matchups, but it’s going to play a prominent effect again in this one. Notre Dame obviously has the massive faceoff edge in this game, both in terms of the numbers - Notre Dame is about 14% better than Drexel - and in how many options they can throw at the Dragons compared to what the Dragons have - the Irish have two elite faceoff men in Kyle Gallagher and Charles Leonard; Drexel rides Jimmeh Koita nearly exclusively. But the faceoff numbers haven’t necessarily been indicative of win-loss in ND games this year. In their first matchup with Duke in South Bend, the Irish won only 30% of faceoffs but utterly dominated Duke 13-8 to hand the Devils their first loss of the year. Why? Duke blew eight clears. Notre Dame was perfect on them. In the second matchup against Duke, Notre Dame was 57% and 56% on faceoffs in the 3rd and 4th Quarters. They were outscored 9-5. Why? The Irish blew six clears in that game and nearly all of them came in the 4th Quarter when they held a substantial lead. The clearing game has played almost as much of a role in the outcome of Irish games as faceoffs. And the clears is the one area of this game where Drexel has an advantage. Not substantially, but they clear it about a percent better than ND. Continuing to hold that advantage, but also pressing Notre Dame into failed clears and mistakes is where Drexel can be in this game to the end, because on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball they are more than a match for the Irish
  • Notre Dame Shooters vs Ross Blumenthal
  • The goaltending matchup might be the other area aside from faceoffs where it appears Notre Dame has the biggest advantage. Liam Entenmann is an All-American, perhaps the best goalie in the country, saving 58% of his shots (52% in ACC play.) Ross Blumenthal for Drexel is an interesting case. Watch him play and you’ll see him make several incredible, A-grade saves a game. In the CAA Championship Game against Hofstra, as the Pride were trying to get back in the game, he made an incredible 1-on-1 save on the doorstep that went the other way for a Dragons goal and summed up Drexel’s dominance. However he’s hovered around 49% in save percentage for most of the year. That’s risen over his last six games to 54.7% though; above the mark Entenmann possesses in that same time frame. So which goalie does Drexel get on Saturday? Or better yet, which goalie does Notre Dame bring out? The Irish have the 4th best Expected Shot % in the country. However they’re 49th in the country in Excess Shooting Percentage. They don’t really outshoot their opportunities, in fact they underperform it. Part of this is how many amazing looks they create; but it’s something to watch out for. If ND shooters aren’t having one of their better days, and Blumenthal gets on a heater that he can get on, then this could be a really, really interesting game out in the Rockies.