Looking for a cliffs notes guide to understanding this afternoon's NCAA final? Patrick Stevens' D1scourse blog has got you covered. Below, three of five storylines that Stevens thinks will decide the final:
1. Mad Max --- and Crotty, too. Attackman Max Quinzani set a Duke single-season record with his 68th goal of the season on Saturday. It happened to be the game-winner, too. The feed on the play came from Ned Crotty, who might possess the best field vision of anyone who has passed through the Blue Devils' program and has a Duke-record 62 assists this year.
That's saying something.
Crotty has at least three points in all but three games --- including losses to Notre Dame and North Carolina.
2. Where there's a will, there's a Ridgway. And a Creighton. And a Randall. And an Irving. It takes a while to fully appreciate the work of Notre Dame's poles. They don't play individual assignments so much as they do what is necessary to win, and it's very much a part of the Fighting Irish's program philosophy.
Go back to 2004, and take a look at the save percentages of the starting goalies: .599, .652, .596, .614, .635, .663, .596.
The latter number belongs to Scott Rodgers this season, and that's Notre Dame at its worst over the last seven seasons. It has everything to do with defensemen who simply keep guys in front of them and don't yield high-percentage shots. That won't be easy to accomplish against Duke, but the Irish did hold the Blue Devils to seven goals earlier this season.
3. The need to lead. A couple notable numbers on Notre Dame.
First, the Irish have trailed for all of 17:25 of 180 minutes of play in three NCAA tournament games.
Perhaps more significantly, in 300 minutes of second-half action in 10 victories all season, the Irish have trailed for a princely sum of 23:36. Of that, all but 3 minutes and 15 seconds came in an overtime defeat of Ohio State (1:18 against Princeton, 1:57 against Loyola)
In short, Notre Dame's path to victory involves building an early lead and then suffocating an opponent.
So let's put it this way: If Duke leads at halftime, chances are very good it will win.
For more, head on over to D1scourse to see Stevens' full take on today's action.