I don't know about anyone else, but this week has been a little brighter coming off a win. A win over that team up north, no less. It's hard not to smile more, to be a little more relaxed and just enjoy life.
Which is good, because this week brings an incredibly difficult matchup against #1 Maryland. And wow, is Maryland good.
This game is a rematch of last year's title game, and shows how different these two teams have been this season. Maryland has only lost once all year to an Albany squad that rattled off 5 unanswered goals in the 4th quarter.
There have been some close calls, but the Terrapins are looking even better than last year, which has to scare a lot of teams. And the Buckeyes, as we all know, haven't fared as well this season after their magical run last year.
The difference between the two teams really comes down to efficiency. Maryland has taken 30 fewer shots than Ohio State has this season, though the Terps have played one fewer game.
Even with a game's worth of stats missing, Maryland has scored 28 more goals than the Buckeyes have. Maryland averages 12.27 goals per game, while Ohio State has averaged only 8.92.
It's amazing how just a few points of efficiency can really alter a team's fortunes. Add 3 goals a game to Ohio State's schedule and there are a lot more Ws.
Senior Connor Kelly took the #1 jersey from Matt Rambo this year, and has been lights out for Maryland. Kelly does just about everything for the Terps, scoring 32 goals and handing out 28 assists to lead his team in all offensive categories.
Kelly is listed as a middie, and will do most of the work to get the Maryland offense going. Helping him out are sophomore attackman Jared Bernhardt, who has 29 goals and 11 assists, and redshirt freshman Logan Wisnauskas, who has 24 goals and 6 assists.
This three headed monster has accounted for 63% of Maryland's goals in 2018, so they're definitely names to watch.
Defensively, Maryland and Ohio State are virtually identical. Maryland allows 8.82 goals per game, just enough to top Ohio State's 8.83 goals per game allowed.
Ohio State has the edge in caused turnovers, 71 to 58, and groundballs, 348 to 288. Bearing in mind, of course, that this includes an extra game played for the Buckeyes.
Really, though, there's not much that separates the defenses as units. Maryland will likely start Bryce Young, Curtis Corley, and Jack Welding at defense this week.
Where Maryland REALLY shines in this matchup, besides its entire settled offense, is on special teams. Maryland converts an astounding .625 percent of their man up opportunities.
That's good for 2nd in the country behind only Lehigh. The unit is astonishingly effective, and Ohio State would kill to convert half that many opportunities. The Buckeyes currently only have a conversion percentage of .278, which is (obviously) way, way below that of Maryland.
If Ohio State wants to win, they MUST avoid penalties. Pretty much at all costs. Because the Terps will make the Buckeyes pay.
Things don't get any better on the other side of the coin. Maryland is currently only allpwing opponents to convert .219 percent of their EMOs, good for 5th in the country.
Ohio State currently allows opponents to convert .469 percent of their opportunities. Coaches hate penalties generally, but against Maryland the Buckeyes will be sunk if they start getting flagged. It's bad news and won't end well.
At the faceoff X things get a little better. Maryland rotates two players, freshman Justin Shockey and junior Austin Henningsen.
Both players have over 100 draws, with Shockey winning 54% and Henningsen winning 51%. Not terrible numbers, but not especially great either. The Buckeyes are currently rolling with Inacio, who has been improving now that he's the clear number one.
After winning 10 of 14 draws against the Wolverines, Inacio will be counted on heavily to limit Maryland possessions.
And, finally, we come to the goalkeepers. Maryland starts senior Dan Morris between the pipes. Morris currently sports an 8.57 goals against average, good for 17th in the country.
Morris also sports a .542 save percentage, bringing him up a spot to 16th nationally. Pretty solid, if not elite, numbers for the senior. Josh Kirson allows 9.57 goals per game in, and has a .481 save percentage.
Honestly, the goalie position has been disappointing this year for the Buckeyes, and Maryland has a decisive edge here. It's going to be a very, very tough game for the Buckeyes, especially in College Park.
Amateur prediction: Terps win, 13-6.