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NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Quarterfinal Preview: (4) Virginia vs (5) Georgetown

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The Cavs are looking to repeat. The Hoyas are looking for their first Final Four in a generation. Here’s what will decide Saturday’s matchup.

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

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: 12:00 PM ET

Location: James M. Shuart Stadium, Hempstead, New York

Network: ESPNU

LaxRef Win Probability: 72.1% Georgetown

Your Anticipation Level: Palpable

The Nitty-Gritty Numbers

Numbers Extravaganza

THE STATS Georgetown Virginia
THE STATS Georgetown Virginia
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 32.7% (16th) 36.0% (6th)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 20.6% (1st) 30.0% (40th)
Adjusted FO% 59.5% (14th) 64.3% (5th)
Clearing Percentage 89.7% (5th) 86.0% (3rd)
Ground Balls Per Game 34.07 (13th) 42.93 (1st)

The Key Match-Ups

Georgetown Clear vs Virginia Ride

  • The Hoyas clear it at an 89.7% clip, a sterling mark that is good for 5th in the country and 2nd best amongst teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament. However we have seen them struggle with more of a ferocious and challenging ride this season. In one of their only two losses on the year, against Denver back in March, they blew four clears and struggled against Denver’s 10-man ride, often resorting to chucking shots against the empty cage. In the second matchup against the Pios they cut it down to only two, but had a whopping *seven* in the Big East Championship game. Virginia will ride in a different manner, with relentlessness from their attack, but they have athletes in the middle of the field that the Hoyas just haven’t seen this year. How that athleticism impacts the Georgetown clear and their usual failsafes of a Zach Geddes or Dylan Hess punt return clear will be fascinating to watch. As we brought up on the Crossecast, Virginia’s ability to cause failed clears and create second chance opportunities often leads to goals, and often to “hidden goals”, that turn what otherwise should be a three to four goal deficit based on how the Cavs are playing into just a one to two goal one (this was perfectly illustrated in the Bryant game on Saturday), which is a big part in so many of Virginia’s comeback wins in recent years. If the Hoyas clear successfully, they have the advantage in the settled six-on-six and will win this game. But if Virginia finds those hidden goals and builds an extended possession advantage, that’s where their athletes grind you down in the fourth quarter.

Georgetown Midfield vs Virginia Defense

  • No player sums up the emergence of the Georgetown midfield and offense since the start of the Big East Tournament than Declan McDermott. Over the last three games, the Hoyas offense has been above 30% in adjusted offensive efficiency in each game for the first time in a three game stretch all season. They’ve been above 35% in all three games. They’re playing their best ball. So is McDermott. In the Hoyas first 12 games, McDermott had 13 goals and was shooting only 20%. Since the Big East Tournament, McDermott has 10 goals on a whopping 50% shooting. In the Syracuse game he was getting to his spot off the dodge whenever he wanted and canning the looks. That’s something Graham Bundy Jr, with 34 goals on the season, has done all year. But McDermott doing it, in addition to Dylan Hess who has seven goals in the Big East Championship vs Denver and against Syracuse combined, has given the Hoyas a plethora of dodging and shooting options in addition to Jake Carraway, has made them that much more threatening. Virginia’s defense is much better in one-on-one situations than the Orange are though and will not be beat off the dodge the way the Hoyas ran by the Virginia short sticks. Where Virginia’s defense does struggle is with interior communication and when teams move the ball quickly. If the Hoyas don’t beat UVA off the dodge, they’ll have to rely solely on that ball movement and pushing the ball inside. They move the ball effectively, especially with TJ Haley, but it’s harder to do that for 60 minutes in the shot clock era than beating your man. If Virginia wins the match-ups they can focus in on their interior protection schemes and key in on Haley and make him a dodger, which isn’t his forte. But if the Hoyas do, they’ll have the dodging advantage to go with ball movement, and be able to beat the Cavs down the alleys and wings, have the outside shooting to go with Carraway’s bombs, and an inside presence with Dylan Watson and have a multi-faceted offensive approach a Cavaliers defense that has struggled this year won’t be able to keep up with.

All numbers and stats courtesy of Lacrosse Reference and Lacrosse Reference PRO.