The Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament might be thesoftest at the top, which opens up the possibility for March Madness chaos. Hereare some numberslikely to have an impact in the bracket-busting, especially for some overrated Big 12 teams.
NCAA Tournament stats to know
No. 1 Kansas' earliest threat
Tom Izzo in March.Is there really much else that needs to be said? But this is really more about the Jayhawks being ripe for an upset — a weak defensive team that turns the ball over a lot and can’t shoot free throws — as soon as they get a real test.Kansas is soft in three of the Four Factors of Basketball Success: 198thin free throws per field goal attempt (shootingan ugly 66.6 percent), 127th in turnovers per 100 possessions and 254th in percentage of available defensive rebounds grabbed.This is all flanked by defense that’s No. 113 in efficiency, not a recipe for tourney success.
While the Spartans finished the season unranked for the first time six years, they’ve been tested with the 10th-toughest schedule that included non-conference games against Arizona, Kentucky, Baylor, Duke and Wichita State. They have the star power in freshman Miles Bridges, who’s quietly averaged more than 18 points, 8 rebounds and almost two blocks over his past 15 games. You can be sure Bill Self doesn’t want to see eighth-seeded MSU get past the Hurricanes in Round 1.
Most overrated seed
This one is a bit unfairbecause the Oregon Ducks would have been a No. 3 seed to be reckoned with if it wasn’t for Chris Boucher’s unfortunate ACL tear over the weekend. They just aren’t the same team without him. The senior’s versatility will be sorely missed, as he was one of just five players in the country to average at least one made three and two blocked shots per game (and the only one to do it while also shooting 50 percent from the field).
At 6-10, Boucher was also the only Ducks player over 6-7 who averaged doublefigures in minutes, with the average height of the other six players slightly under 6-4.Dana Altman’s now verticallychallenged squad might be forced to rely on 6-11 freshman Kavell Bigby-Williams getting a large boost in minutes, not a situation you want to face in March.
Most eye-popping stat that will matter
No. 2 Louisville’s top three scorers, Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snider and Deng Adel, are shockingly inefficient for a team this successful. They combine to shoot 40.7 percent from the field, with all three below 41.3 for the year. To get an idea of how unusually poor this is,Rick Pitino’s team is the only one in the Field of 68 with its top three scorers all shooting below 42 percent.
For more context, the top three bucket-getters for the other three No. 2 seeds combine for a48.7 clip, with none of the teams below 45 percent. The Cardinals’ 170th-ranked true shooting percentage (which takes into account threes and free throws) of 54.3 could ultimately be the thing that keeps them from a lengthy tourney stay.
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A No. 7 seed that just won the Big 10 Tournament is an easy answer here. If Michigan advances to play Louisville, the Wolverines willbe an interesting contrast to the aforementioned Cardinals bricklayers, because Michigan can flat out stroke it.The Wolverines areninth nationally with a 60.0 true shooting percentage and have five guys who shot over 38 percent from deep at a relatively high volume in conference play.
Point guard Derrick Walton has emerged as a true stud, pouring in 18.7 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 boards over his past 15 games. If John Beilein’s shooters can stay hot against Oklahoma State, they might just have enough firepower to overcome some suspect rebounding (275th in rebound percentage) and defense (160th in defensive effiency), and string together some wins.
First-round upset alert
The region’s No. 12 Nevada is in a prime position to exploit No. 5 Iowa State’s biggest weakness, which happens to be one of those aforementionedFour Factors— rebounding.ISU ranks 298th nationally in total rebound percentage (an estimate of the number of available rebounds a team grabs) at 47.5 percent. Nevada, on the other hand, led the Mountain West Conference in rebounding and is one of just three schools in the country with two players, Cameron Oliver and Jordan Caroline, who average more than 8.5 rebounds per game(Long Island University and New Mexico State are the others).Then see Iowa State’s leading rebounder, 6-4 Deonte Burton, who is a beast for his height but averages just 6.2 per contest. Eric Musselman’s Wolfpack also have the defensive strengths to neutralize the Cyclones’ 14th-ranked 3-point percentage (40.2), with an opponent 3-point percentage (30.7) that also happens to be ranked 14th in the country.