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2013 Final Four: By the Numbers

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Markus McCaine to the Family! Markus is going to be dicing up some lacrosse numbers for us this year, and he’ll be using MATH to make predictions and keep you informed. We’re excited to see what Markus comes up with down the line, and we LOVE his 2013 Final Four Predictions already! McCaine is like the Nate Silver of lacrosse (that was a joke, for those that didn’t get it)!


It’s November and your bracket is busted. Long nights of Mountain Dew and Quint Kessenich’s analysis can’t save you from fall ball doom. But, thankfully, I am here to help.

Syracuse Vs. Duke Lacrosse - Big City Classic
Will Duke or Cuse make it to the Final Four?

Using nothing but historical data and my own personal savvy, I will try to predict who the winner of the 2013 Division 1 National Championship will be. The catch is, I will only be looking at the statistics from 2012 and beyond, to try and better guess who I believe will come out on top.

I will start with a quick glance at face-off win percentages from 2012 and we can clearly see that no team from the Final Four was inside the top ten for faceoff numbers. Add in the rule changes and it might be a totally overrated statistic.

Where things start to get interesting is when we take a look at scoring offense and scoring defense. What I have done is created a simple algorithm to help aid us in this process of judging overall team strength. Follow me if you can… I’ll keep it simple at first, and I will start by subtracting scoring offense from scoring defense.

We can not call this a thorough analysis though because by these standards UMass should be far and away your 2012 National Champion. So we also need to take strength of schedule into consideration. So let’s divide our difference by SOS.

UMass vs Army Lacrosse 57
SOS hurts UMass in this approach.

Doing so puts Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame and Virginia as our highest ‘rated’ teams. Three out of these four made it to Foxboro last year. I like my odds, and my math, so far.

Simple and to the point; scoring offense minus scoring defense divided by strength of schedule. It gets right to the point because let’s face it, it is all about scoring, protecting the net and doing so against good teams.

So who is going to do be our highest ‘rated’ teams in 2013? I can not say for certain but what I can say is that I’d give the edge to Hopkins, Syracuse, and Duke.

Let me throw this out for you; in the past three National Championship races only once has the No. 1 seed advanced to the finals (Loyola in 2012). Furthermore, in the past three years, no seed higher than No. 5 has advanced to the championship game – Duke being the only 5 seed in 2010.

Recent trends seem to be pointing in the direction that the gap is closing on the powerhouses. Gone are the days when we could say No.1 and No. 2 were a ‘lock’. With an increasingly large high school talent pool, we are starting to see more lower-seeded teams, and unseeded teams, squeak into the Final Four.

Does history repeat itself from here on out?

2012 was the first time since 1975 that neither Syracuse, Hopkins nor Virginia made it to the Final Four. But I think we are due to get back to that. So without any stats let’s pencil in one of those spots as filled.

I also like to believe, as foolish as it may be, that the team with the best player always finds a way to weasel its way into late May. It’s too soon to make a clear-cut call on who is going to win the Tewaaraton but since the inception of the trophy in 2001, only twice has the recipient’s team failed to make it to the final game of the National Tournament.

Colgate Army lacrosse
Can Colgate make the jump in 2013?

We could see a first ever Tewaaraton double up if Colgate’s Peter Baum finds a way to hoist the trophy again. Or we could see the glorious return of Cornell’s Rob Pannell. Or we could see a dark horse third party snatch the Tewaaraton in the middle of the night.

Let that sink in. Whoever wins the Tewaaraton will be playing in Philly.

Time to pull this all together. Our Final Four party includes; 1) the best team playing the best competition, 2) a dark horse, 3) the team with the Tewaaraton winner and 4) either Syracuse, Hopkins or Virginia.

So here goes nothing. Duke (my best team), Syracuse (the dark horse), Colgate (the best player) and Johns Hopkins (the old guard prestige factor) will be the teams that descend on Philadelphia.

wells stanwick hopkins traditional lacrosse
Can Stanwick and Hopkins make a run in 2013?

Think a different group of teams will make it to Philly? Let me know in the comments and be sure to tell me WHY you think those four teams will make it to Memorial Day Weekend!