Saturday March 14, 1:00pm St. John’s at Loyola
St. John’s is 4-0 with a win over #11 Georgetown.
Loyola is 4-2 with no ranked wins and losses to Notre Dame and Duke.
I have to be honest. I have not seen either of these teams in action yet for myself, however this game intrigues me.
Upstart St. John’s wants to prove that their win over Georgetown was no fluke. They also beat Drexel, while unranked is yearly a decent team.
Loyola on the other hand will play up or down to their opponents. Loyola only lost to Notre Dame by 1, and by 2 to Duke. However they only beat lowly Sienna by 2.
St. John’s is winning the FO battle with 63%, and I can safely say that their shot on goal differential is due to this control of play. They have out shot opponents an average of 43 shots vs 26 shots per game. When an opponent is only getting a limited number of shots, it is easy to win games when your keeper (Gavin Buckley) is saving 61% of the shots he does face. Loyola is winning about half their face offs, and is averaging about 35 shots per game.
I think St. John’s has a chance in this one. They need to play their style of game, and not be intimidated by Loyola. I am going with them for my upset pick of the week. Either way it should be an entertaining game to watch.
Saturday March 14, 1:00pm UMBC at Maryland
UMBC is 3-2 with no ranked wins, and losses to Hopkins and Princeton.
Maryland is 4-1 with a win over #10 Duke, and a loss to Georgetown.
UMBC’s offense took a backseat in their loss last week to Princeton, but they are still a potent scoring team. The Retrievers are led by Peet Poillon (8 Goals,13 Assists), Kyle Wimer (12,5), Alex Hopmann (13,1), and Rob Grimm (3,7).
Aside from their scoring ability, goalkeeper Jeremy Blevins is playing very solid in net. He has a 9.17 GAA and a save percentage of 56%. Blevins was a big part in keeping UMBC in the game as he made 11 saves against Princeton and only let in 6 goals.
UMBC’s weaknesses are face offs and hustle. No one has won even 40% of their face offs on the team, and as a whole unit, they are only at 33% (and that’s rounding up). On ground balls, they are averaging 8 less per game than their opponents. Without possession (FO) and control (GBs) the Retrievers make their games that much harder on themselves. Their defense has to play longer, and harder, and each shot becomes that more crucial on offense.
Maryland last week surprisingly played Towson close…a little too close. I have said earlier this is one of the best attack units, and they proved it by scoring all of the goals in the Towson win. Not 1 goal was recorded by a midfielder. They need to get their act together when they face UMBC this week.
Maryland’s top scorers are Grant Catalino (11,10), Will Yeatman (6,8), Ryan Young (9,4), and Dan Groot (5,6).
In goal for this game should be Brian Phipps, as each goalie shares the starts. Phipps has been slightly better statistically speaking with a 7.38 GAA and a save percentage of 61%.
Maryland’s FO unit couldn’t be more different than UMBC’s. No one has won less than 45% of their FOs taken, and as a unit combine for a win percentage of 62%. On GBs, Maryland is averaging 8 more per game than their opponents.
These are the keys to the game. Maryland needs to continue their FO/GB dominance and control the time of possession. Their middies need to step up the offensive contributions to give them some breathing room. For UMBC, they need to take MD’s midfield out of the equation. Make Maryland beat them with just their attack. If they can do this and start winning FOs (even 50%), they have a chance.
Maryland will win in a surprisingly close one.
Saturday March 14, 2:00pm Hopkins at Syracuse
Syracuse is 3-1 with a win over #11 Georgetown, and a loss to Virginia.
Hopkins is 3-1 with wins over #9UMBC and #12Hofstra, and a loss to Princeton.
Kyle Wharton was a one man show against Hofstra tallying 5 goals and padding his stats. Wharton now leads Hopkins in scoring (11,3), then comes Mike Kimmel (8,6), Steve Boyle (9,4), and Brian Christopher (4,4).
Hopkins needs someone to step up to an injury riddled FO spot. If you take out Mike Powers’ 68% FO wins, the rest of the team is sub-50%. The other weakness is still Mike Gvozden. Heading into the Hofstra game his save% was below 50%. Hofstra made him look good by shooting at his body. Every game I watch him, I keep thinking, “Is this the turn around game where he wakes up and turns it on the rest of the year?”
Syracuse has 9 players with 3 or more goals, and is led on offense by Kenny Nims (10,9), Steve Keogh (13,4), and Dan Hardy(6,5).
An area they are suffering this year compared to last is at face offs. Syracuse’s FO unit is winning 46% of the time.
Two shining underrated stars have been John Galloway who has stood on his head in goal saving 62% of the shots he faced, and Joel White. White needs his own stat of intercepted passes. He has an uncanny ability to time and snatch the opponents passes and create turnovers without taking his opponents arm off with a check.
I think the injury to Powers is a huge benefit to Syracuse. I would have to think FOs will be about even in this game now. The other thing to watch in this game is EMO. Syracuse EMO unit is scoring 64% of their chances. Syracuse did struggle against UVA only converting 1 out of 4 chances. With Hopkins getting an average of 6 penalties per game, Syracuse needs to be able to convert near their season average.
I’m going to be a homer and pick Cuse by 4.