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NCAA Playoffs - Opening Round Preview and Analysis

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In the first round, there are 3 games that should be very interesting.

Saturday May 9th, Brown plays Johns Hopkins at noon.hopkins

Broooown! Rob…this one’s for you buddy.
One of the mild surprises of the selection was to see Brown as a #9 seed. The Bears are 12-3 on the season. This season they have losses to #10 Hofstra (in double OT), unranked Penn (by 1), and #4 Princeton. Their ranked wins came over #15 UMass, #18 Harvard, and #7 Cornell. That one last win over Cornell was enough to get an invite to the show.

Brown’s offense is lead by Andrew Feinberg (40Goals/16Assists), Kyle Hollingsworth (20/26), Thomas Muldoon (32/11), Reade Seligmann (12/20), and Brady Williams (17/14). Their EMO offense is struggling, converting on 39% of their chances. Brown’s difficulties continue at FO where they are winning 41%. Where Brown succeeds is their goalie and defense. Their man down unit is stopping opponents 74% of the time. Their goalie is 2008 Ivy Player of the year, Jordan Burke. His Goals against average is 7.74, and his save% is at 61.7%. These two reasons (defense and Burke) are how Brown beat Cornell. Cornell scored 0 of 4 attempts on EMO. That is 0. Burke had 18 saves and only 9 goals against.

Johns Hopkins ended up the season 9-4. The Jays lost to #4 Princeton, #1 Syracuse, #5 Virginia, and #6 North Carolina. They have ranked wins over #9 UMBC, #10 Hofstrra, #13 Maryland, #12 Navy, and #14 Loyola. Aftter a 3-4 start the team won out. Hopkins has been on a trend the past couple of years. Start off poor, then finish very strong. Statistically speaking this is directly correlated to the play of their goalie Mike Gvozden (MikeyG). This is not necessarily a bad thing. Ask any NHL player and if their goalie is hot during the playoffs then that is all that matters. The regular season is a distant memory. Gvozden on the year is saving 51.2% of the shots he faces letting in an average 9.5 Goals Against. The Hopkins defense did not give Gvozden too much help in the beginning of the year (slides looked slow), but have since stepped it up. The Man down unit is stopping opponents 63% of the time.

On offense, The Jays are led by Kyle Wharton (31/9), Chris Boland (23/16), Mike Kimmel (18/21), Brian Christopher (25/11), and Steven Boyle (19/15). On offense, their EMO is scoring on 47% of their chances.

While Brown has played well at times this year, the Hopkins machine is just too much to handle. I think Brown can put up a fight, but towards the later part of the game, Hopkins depth and multiple threats pull away. The Jays take this one by 4.

Sunday May 10th, Maryland plays Notre Dame at noon.notredamefightingirish

The once highly touted then highly booted Will Yeatman faces his old team …

Anyone find it ironic that the school with the stereotypical mascot of a fighting Irishman (and let’s be honest…what other stereotype goes with an angry Irishman…think Denis Leary), levied such a strict penalty on Yeatman?

Notre Dame is 15-0. No losses. Ranked wins over #14 Loyola, #16 Penn State, #6 UNC, #17 Bucknell, and #19 Villanova. Notre Dame parallels Syracuse in the fact that both schools USED to have good football programs that are now in the tank. Actually the similarities end there…but that doesn’t mean ND is overrated.

I have heard the statements from coaches and past players that Notre Dame is undefeated yet untested…that they need to beat some good teams (Does that infer UNC is not a good team). Everyone also blames ND for poor scheduling. To these naysayers, I say that it is not Notre Dame’s fault that they are not in a top league like the ACC that has to play each other (inflating their own SOS). Nor is it their fault that on open games, teams find little incentive to travel out to Indiana.

The Fighting Irish are led by Neal Hicks (25/17), Duncan Swezey (22/20), Ryan Hoff (32/3), Grant Krebs (28/9), and Peter Christman (14/18). They don’t seem to be missing Will Who. Notre Dame has a number of threats even though they don’t have the “flair factor”.

In goal, Scott Rodgers has posted an amazing 6.08 GAA, and 66.3%. Granted he hasn’t faced stiff competition, yet against UNC, which has some very sharp shooters, Rodgers posted one of his best games ever saving 16 of 23 shots (7.0 GAA/70%save).

I also will throw in the comment that since they have not had such a ragged schedule that late season injuries/fatigue does not plague the team as much as others.

Maryland is 9-6. They had losses to unranked Georgetown, #9 UMBC, #5 UVA, #12 Navy, #8 Johns Hopkins, and #6 UNC. They have ranked wins over #3 Duke, and #6 UNC.
Maryland had a tough schedule this year, yet I am surprised they did not do better. With the amount of offensive talent this team has, they just couldn’t put together the whole package day in and day out. Wether it was a Sophomore slump or the chemistry built last year was affected as there were some changes to the chemistry.

Their special teams units faired well as a whole, as their EMO worked 50% of the time, and Mandown 70% of the time. They also won 52% of their faceoffs. The special units of MD really is like the rest of the team. Not bad, but nothing jumps out and says greatness.

The points leaders are Grant Catalino (22/21), Ryan Young (19/16), Dan Groot (19/14), Will Yeatman (13/13), Travis Reed (16/7). In cage for the Terps should be Brian Phipps. While splitting time with Carter, Phipps just puts up a better performance. (Jason Carter 7.54 GAA, 49.1%. Brian Phipps 7.63 GAA 58%)

By seedings I am not picking the underdog…by traditionalists I am. I am picking Notre Dame to win by 3. I believe MD’s defense will be surprised by the abilities of a number of ND players. ND’s offense, while not overly impressive, will put up enough goals (especially since Rodgers will be standing on his head making big saves for the Irish)

Duke/Navy is my pick for game of the week.  They meet Saturday May 9th at 7:30pm.navy

Duke ended up 13-3. They lost to #18 Harvard, and #13 Maryland. Ranked wins over #17 Bucknell, #14 Loyola, #6 UNC (twice), and #5 UVA (twice). I have no idea how they lost to Harvard and MD but in the same breath were the only team to beat UVA.

Duke’s offense is lead by Tewaaraton finalist Ned Crotty (20/45). The Blue Devils also have Max Quinzani (39/9), Zach Howell (21/16), Justin Turri (15/10), and Brad Ross (18/6).
For special teams, they are 46% on EMO, 62% on man-down, and 55% on FO.

If I had to pick one weakness, it would be in goal. Not that Schroeder is bad, but Duke’s offense is that damn good. Schroeder has a 7.69 GAA, and save% of 50.8%

Navy. What can I say. I love their defense, their physical play, their hustle attitude.

Navy is 11-4 on the year. Losses to #6 UNC (by 1), #17 Bucknell (by 1), unranked Colgate (by 1), and #8 Hopkins. Ranked wins over #13 Maryland, and #17 Bucknell.
Being an LSM, I love defense, and am really excited to hopefully see them in Foxboro. The only game they let an opponent score more than 10 goals was their loss to Hopkins. Their opponents are averaging only 7.2 goals per game. Their Man down is insane. They stop opponents EMO 85% of the time. Hell, If I were Coach Meade, I’d let my defense play man-down the whole game…leave a middie at midfield for a quick outlet pass on a save/turnover. Why? Cause they can ……and their offense needs a little help. The Navy offense is only averaging 9.1 goals per game. Their EMO is only successful 44% of the time. And they only have 2 players with 30+ points on the year. The offense is led by Brendan Connors (21/10), Tim Paul (18/13), Andy Warner (13/14), Pat Moran (20/3), and Joe Lennon (13/9).

In goal for Navy should be Tommy Phelan who has a 7.69 GAA and a save% of 63.3%.
If I were Navy, I would not waste too much time focusing on Crotty. Even in Duke’s losses he put up at least 3 assists each game. They should focus on who he is passing to. Quinzani can and has been shut down before. Navy’s defense should be able to handle Max fairly easily.
I am going with the choke factor on this one. Usually you hear about players “not being able to finish”. Coach Danowski just can’t finish. Under Dano’s tutelage, Hofstra excelled at mediocrity. Even when they had a stacked team in 2006 they failed against UMass. More recently at Duke with much of their starpower intact, they couldn’t even get to the finals in 2008.

Navy with a major upset takes a close one by 1-2.

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