You might be asking yourself why Syracuse is going to East Hartford to play Rutgers. Well, the answer isn't "money" or "attempting to grow the sport" or "to play in a televised spectacular."
It's because New Jersey is a dump and potentially exposing the Orange's lacrosse team to tetanus and cooties doesn't bode well for a dominating run to Memorial Monday.
That's a fact.* You can look it up.^
It's the ESPNU Warrior Classic, and Syracuse-Rutgers is the headlining act, facing-off at 5:30 P.M. The ESPNU Warrior Classic shouldn't be confused with Warrior Dash, which is muddy and fun and makes you look like this at the end:
As for the game itself, Syracuse should take care of business. Rutgers is one of the worst teams in the country, having got fat early in the year against the likes of Wagner (winless), St. Joseph's (winless), and Manhattan (I didn't even know this was a school).
Here's an abbreviated Rutgers profile:
|Adjusted Offensive Efficiency||26.83||39||28.05|
|Adjusted Defensive Efficiency||27.80||36||27.74|
|Adjusted Efficiency Margin||-0.97||39||0.31|
|Shots Per Offensive Possession||1.10||13||1.00|
|Shots Per Defensive Possession||0.82||2||1.00|
|Offensive Effective Shooting Percentage||26.05%||48||28.74%|
|Defensive Effective Shooting Percentage||32.74%||55||28.71%|
|Offensive Assist Rate||13.65||43||15.36|
|Defensive Assist Rate||16.34||43||15.22|
|Offensive Clearing Percentage||78.01%||50||82.75%|
|Defensive Clearing Percentage||81.25%||23||82.67%|
|Saves Per Defensive Possession||0.24||60||0.31|
|Strength of Schedule -- Opposing Offenses||26.50||57||27.98|
|Strength of Schedule -- Opposing Defenses||29.19||56||27.79|
|Strength of Schedule -- Efficiency Margin||-2.69||58||0.19|
Here's some things to think about for Saturday (other than, you know, which kinds of beers you're going to pour down your gullet):
- This sucker has the makings of another grind-it-out special. Like you, I've just about had enough of Syracuse playing all these pace deflaters. What's really troublesome is that Rutgers is solid at the dot. If the Orange wants to get the tempo rolling on Saturday, it's going to have to get around the 50 percent mark again at the "X" like they did against Hobart. Otherwise, the Scarlet Knights are just going to hold the bean for days and days.
With reference to the other pace factors -- offensive and defensive clearing -- Syracuse has a chance to create some free possessions. Rutgers is just about average on its ride, but has had a bear of a time clearing the ball. This should play into the Orange's hand a little bit as Syracuse has been pretty good on its ride (and certainly has the athletes to disrupt a clear if they choose). There is opportunity here to create transitional, unsettled situations. Hooray for pace!
- Check out Rutgers' saves per defensive possession ranking. Terrible, right? Here's why that's important: The Scarlet Knights aren't ending defensive possessions with a save. When you use that as the backdrop when examining their defensive effective shooting percentage (miserable) and the small number of shots they yield on defense per possession, you quickly understand that Syracuse could be walking into a "shot-score" situation. For a team like the Orange that hasn't shot that well this year (they're right around the national average), they could really take advantage of Rutgers' inability to stop shots.
In other words, if Syracuse does a good job of getting decent shots on net (i.e., not shooting it directly into the goalies' trash bag), the Orange could really put some numbers on the board.
- I'm curious to see what JoJo Marasco, Tommy Hopkins, Joel White, and John Lade can do. Check out Rutgers' defensive assist rate. In the tank, son. That's a whole bunch of ball watching from the Scarlet Knights. Marasco and Palasek really need to do a good job distributing. Also, check out Rutgers' offensive assist rate. It's not all that high, right? This shows me that the Scarlet Knights are doing a lot of one-on-one dodging and trying to get to the cage for an unassisted score. White and Lade are more than capable at taking the bean away. They could really shine on Saturday.
* It's not a fact. This was supposed to be a Syracuse home game. (Thanks for the reminder, TRCuse.)
^ You can't look it up. Unless, of course, there is a reference book of lies. (The Bible maybe?) Then you could look it up.