It’s good that terrapins have a hard shell covering their backs. Will make it less painful for Maryland’s 2017 vintage to carry that monkey around in Boston. Clever animal mascot joke? No?
The Terps haven’t been the last team standing since 1975. They have absolutely been in the mix, but they’ve been on an amazing run of having the best view of the champion celebrating on Memorial Day. Many words have been spilled on this topic.
Since our mission is to bring numbers to lacrosse in an interesting way, there is something (hopefully) unique that we can add to the narrative.
This will be Maryland’s toughest slate of opponents
We don’t have full data on all the years since Maryland last won the title. We were able to go back through the last three seasons. I can say with a fair degree of uncertainty that if the Terps are going to raise that trophy, they’ll have gone through their toughest stretch of opponents in recent memory.
To measure this, we use the Lax-ELO model to record the strength of each opponent Maryland has played in NCAA tournament games. The full list looks like this:
|Year – Rd||Opponent||ELO|
|2015 – Rd 1||Yale||1655|
|2015 – Rd 2||Carolina||1674|
|2015 – Semi||Hopkins||1656|
|2015 – Final||Denver||1807|
|2016 – Rd 1||Quinnipiac||1613|
|2016 – Rd 2||Syracuse||1719|
|2016 – Semi||Brown||1914|
|2016 – Final||Carolina||1681|
|2017 – Rd 1||Bryant||1627|
|2017 – Rd 2||Albany||1888|
|2017 – Semi||Denver||1770|
If (and Denver will certainly have something to say about it) Maryland is able to advance to a 3rd straight title game, it doesn’t matter who they play. This will be the toughest slate of teams in the past three years.
|Year||Avg Opp ELO|
How should I explain that to my uncle who doesn’t like analytics?
Think of it another way. How would those ELO ratings translate to an actual ranking? Maryland’s tournament paths look like this when you use that lens:
- 2015: #16 – #11 – #16 – #3
- 2016: #20 – #6 – #1 – #9
- 2017: #17 – #1 – #3 – #5
After their first round game, which is always going to be fairly easy since they keep getting top seeds, they will have faced the first, 3rd, and 5th best teams this year. (Maryland is currently #2 in our Lax-ELO ratings.)
Winning a championship is really hard. Playing on 48 hours rest in warm temperatures is tough on the body. Add in the pressure on these kids, and you can’t really blame any team for not bringing home a title.
But if Maryland does it this year, Terps fans can be extra proud, knowing that this was the toughest path they’ve faced in recent memory.