Believe it or not, Michigan lacrosse is halfway through Season One. Seven games in the books, seven games in front. That makes it a good time to do math-things with the sport.
I've developed - well, developed is a strong word as it's not totally finished - I'm developing a KenPomish O-rating system for lacrosse. It's not totally finished because it doesn't yet account for strength of opponent, but I'm working on that. If you want a full rundown of how it works, you can click here. [/semi-shameless hit whoring]
The basic gist is that the eventual O-rating number represents a team's scoring in a 100-possession game of lacrosse, and that the D-rating is the defensive mirror image. It's based on three efficiency stats:
-- faceoff win percentage
-- clearing percentage (how good you are at getting the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end)
-- scoring efficiency (how good you are at converting offensive possessions into goals)
Michigan's offensive efficiency numbers so far this season, and the D-I averages, are as follows:
And the same for the defense:
|Opp. Faceoff %||56.4%||50%|
|Opp. clearing %||74.6%||82.9%|
|Opp. conversion %||39.2%||32.2%|
There are 61 D-I teams; Michigan is 52nd on offense and 53rd on defense. They're roughly a standard deviation below average on offense and slightly more than one below (above?) average on defense.
None of this comes as much surprise. The bright spot? Michigan's ride. They're allowing opponents to successfully clear the ball less than three-quarters of the the time. The ride is ranked 4th in the country, behind only Hopkins, Denver, and Army.
The worst two stats I see: probably clearing, and defensive conversion rate. The latter has slightly improved of late, I would say partly due to a change in net from Westerhold to Emil Weiss, and partly due to the competition (Mercer.) Clearing remains a big problem. Michigan simply has trouble with this. Only Mount St. Mary's and Wagner are worse. This is an issue regardless of opponent; Michigan only cleared 2/3 of chances against Mercer. It's likely the most obvious manifestation of club athletes vs. D-I athletes, since clearing is lacrosse's "open-field" game.
For reference and posterity, here are the O and D ratings of the teams on Michigan's schedule. I've bolded those numbers which are above (or below, on D) the D-I average of 14.48.
|Mount St. Mary's||14.93||15.12|
Keep in mind that since these numbers are unadjusted for strength of schedule, they're not 100% reliable as to who's actually the toughest opponent. But they do reflect reality regarding who's played the best.
The most beatable remaining opponent? Rutgers. They have a similar profile to Jacksonville - slightly worse, in fact - and the Dolphins were thisclose to being Michigan's first victim this season. Mount St. Mary's is also a possibility, and then - surprisingly - Ohio, who's been disappointing this year. A loss to Robert Morris is the Buckeyes' low point so far. They knocked off Denver, but have been in a major offensive slump since. Still, it's unlikely (as we knew) that we'll end up with more than two wins.
I'll update this as the season goes on, and I expect by the end of the year I'll have figured out a decent way to adjust this for strength of schedule. Also on the project list: finding the best exponent for a Pythagorean calculation.