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NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Quarterfinal Preview: (3) Maryland vs (6) Notre Dame

It’s the most anticipated matchup of this weekend and maybe all season. Can Maryland remain perfect? Do the Irish ride a home field advantage back to the Final Four for the first time since 2015?

NCAA LACROSSE: MAY 15 Men’s Tournament - Vermont at Maryland

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: 2:30 PM ET

Location: Arlotta Stadium, South Bend, Indiana

Network: ESPNU

LaxRef Win Probability: 69.5% Maryland

Your Anticipation Level: THROUGH THE ROOF

The Nitty-Gritty Numbers

Maryland vs Notre Dame

THE STATS Maryland Notre Dame
THE STATS Maryland Notre Dame
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 38.6% (2nd) 35.7% (7th)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 23.0% (5th) 22.0% (4th)
Adjusted FO% 51.9% (27th) 64.0% (6th)
Clearing Percentage 86.6% (24th) 86.4% (25th)
Ground Balls Per Game 32.69 (21st) 35.55 (8th)

The Key Match-Ups

  • Pat Kavanagh vs Brett Makar
  • It doesn’t get much better than this. First Team All-American vs First Team All-American. Tewaaraton nominee vs possible Schmeisser Award winner. Kavanagh is as electrifying as anyone when he gets going, with his tremendous blend of vision and freewheeling creativity around the cage. He’s 3rd in the country in points per game. Makar is the best pure cover man in the country alongside Kavanagh’s teammate Jack Kielty. He erases X attackmen such as Kieran Mullins (0 goals and 1 assist in the Terps rematch with Rutgers in Piscataway) and Connor DeSimone (0 goals, 0 assists, 0 shots, 2 turnovers) in the Big Ten Championship Game. Kavanagh will be his toughest assignment. When Kavanagh has six point games and is making incredible plays around the cage for goals it sets everything up for his teammates with his tremendous vision. However when he is held in check the way Sean Quinn of Drexel - plus the rest of the Dragons defense - did on Saturday, the Irish offense can go quiet. They don’t have another dodger who can unbalance a defense in the same way. They’re not going to draw slides consistently outside of Kavanagh. And they become much easier to defend. Compare that to the flip side matchup of Bernhardt and Kielty. Even if Kielty can manage on Bernhardt; Kyle Long can be extremely dangerous as a dodger and passer with his speed. Bubba Fairman still commands attention due to his athleticism and Logan Wisnauskas will punish any short stick with his size. There’s more options for Maryland. For Notre Dame, Kavanagh is the hub. They feed off his creativity and the juice he can create. If Makar keeps him quiet, the rest of that elite Terps defense will feel comfortable. If he’s having a big day, the game will be right where the Irish want it.
  • Justin Shockey vs Kyle Gallagher and Charles Leonard
  • Obviously this is the part of the game everyone is focusing on significantly because it’s been Maryland’s one supposed “weakness” all year long and has been a massive Notre Dame strength all year. However, with Maryland now checking in at 52% on draws, there’s a question about how much of a weakness it really is. But I’m not so much focused on what number Notre Dame has to hit to negate Maryland’s high powered offense or what number Maryland needs to avoid a big possession disadvantage. I’m focused on what the most predominant matchup at the faceoff dot is. Because Shockey has a considerable history with both men. He’s faced Kyle Gallagher twice when Gallagher was at Penn in 2019 and 2020 and faced Leonard twice in 2019 and 2020 as well. Against Gallagher, he’s 16-for-41, however last year in their matchup he was 16-for-34 and was 12-for-21 in the final three quarters after Gallagher got the jump on him early. Against Leonard, he’s seen considerable success. He’s 21-for-31 in his career, and dominated Leonard in their matchup a year ago, going 18-for-26 in a 14-9 Maryland win. Combined against both men, he comes in around 51%, close to where he is right now. When you consider Shockey’s relative success against Leonard, you imagine Kevin Corrigan goes to a strong helping of Gallagher on Sunday. However if he does, does that negate the advantage Notre Dame has by being able to throw two elite faceoff guys to Maryland’s one (the Terps are always willing to throw different looks on faceoffs and try multiple options; but Luke Wierman’s struggles have meant it’s been Shockey’s show the last few weeks.) That could play more into Maryland’s hands. If Shockey struggles and Tillman does go to Wierman to try and get something going, does Corrigan counter by going to Leonard to spell him Galagher? These are some game in within the game within the game possibilities that could impact how the faceoff battle plays out and then potentially, though not certainly, could impact how the game plays out.