Marist ripped through the conference schedule all season… before getting beatedn up by a Manhattan team whose most recent outing was a pasting by VMI. Even if the Red Foxes aren’t as bad as a loss to the Jaspers would have you believe, that game certainly shows they’re not invincible.
The TempoFreeLax.com numbers displayed here are adjusted for strength of schedule. Marist has played the third-easiest schedule in the country, with only Mercer and Wagner facing easier slates in the country (despite not being able to play themselves. Impressive).
|Off. Eff.||31.23 (26)|
|Def. Eff.||30.14 (28)|
This is a team that was obviously pretty good when the Titans headed to Poughkeepsie to play them in mid-March, but they’ve even improved most of their numbers since that time.
The offensive and defensive efficiancies were in the mid-30s before and both have now climbed into the mid-20s. That’s against a host of pretty bad teams (and Duke), so they were mostly dominant in order to overcome the strength of schedule adjustment.
The area they’ve made the biggest improvement is possession. They’re now dominating that metric, and since they play a pretty fast brand of ball, that gives them a lot of opportunities to score. If you can keep the ball away from Marist, you can beat them. They’ve shown, however, that it’s pretty tough to do.
I won’t spend too much time recapping the main personnel – if you’re interested, you can check out the previous preview post I wrote. More interesting to me is what’s changed since last time.
The faceoffs have gotten a lot better. Matt Dugan’s number have pretty much remained the same, but he’s developed into the clear top option for the Marist coaching staff. That alone has seen the Red Foxes improve by leaps and bounds in the past few games.
What We Learned Last Time
Don’t get killed in possession, and you’ll stay close enough to win. Marist is a really good possession team, and taking that advantage away from them is the way to even things up. The Titans aren’t going to excel on faceoffs, but mucking things up and preventing Marist from dominating possession will be big.
The Titans also had a terrible day clearing last time out (albeit against a pretty good ride), another area in which you can kill yourself in possession. The Titans need to chop the self-inflicted damage out of their game in order to steal the win.
The UDM offense had a poor performance in the first game without Shayne Adams. Since that time – albeit against poor competition – the Titans have really figured out how to adjust to the loss of Adams, share the wealth, and score the ball. Doing it against a pretty good Marist team is a whole new deal.
Simple: Survive and advance. The Titans are looking to extend their season one more day – and get one game closer to the program’s first NCAA Tournament.
I have a bit of confidence for the Titans in this one. That’s mostly been the kiss of death this year.
- Detroit clears much better than the 20/29 performance last time out, but the faceoff advantage for Marist still skews overall possession in a big time way.
- The Titans actually won’t press out and play aggressively as we’ve seen in some games, since Marist has pretty good sticks. The turnovers will still come – you can’t just deny your identity, as UDM did too many times early this year – but it won’t be a fiesta of them.
- The Detroit offense will share the ball, no player notching more than four total points.
Despite an improved Detroit team and a Marist team coming off an embarrassing loss, I think the difference in quality is just too great for the Titans. Marist will be pissed off coming out of that Manhattan debacle, and try to make the Titans pay. That could mean some sloppiness, but it won’t be enough to give away the game. Detroit comes excruciatingly close, but falls 13-12.
Share your predictions, discussion, etc. in the comments.