Still scrutinizing over your March Madnessbracket? If you're stuck on which teams to pick, pull up the NCAA Tournament rostersand check out the point guards.
Naturally, it's important for a team to have a star player or two if it wants to have a deep run in the tournament, but it's even more important for one of those stars to be a point guard.
Why? That's where the offense begins.
If you're still not convinced, take a look at the statistics. On average, the starting point guard for each NCAA championship team from the last 25 yearsproduced 12.9 points per game, 5.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals while shooting 43.8 percentfrom the field and 38.7 percentfrom three-point range. Those are significant numbers.
Considering the consistent proximity tothat average stat line — the point guard of the last 12 champions has averaged in double figures and all but two in the last 25 years have averaged more than four assists per game—over the past 25 years, it's begging the question: how many teams have point guards that measure up? (Note:to simplify, we will just focus on points per game, assists per game and shooting percentage).
Surprisingly, just four check all the boxes: UCLA (Lonzo Ball), Iowa State (Monte Morris), Notre Dame (Matt Farrell) and Oklahoma State (Jawun Evans). Let's take a look at their production.
Lonzo Ball, UCLA
Stat line: 14.6 points per game, 7.7 assists per game, 54.4 percentFG, 41 percent3FG
Ball is probably the most complete point guard who meets thosenational championshipstandards. He's wildly efficient with his shot— 10th in the nation in effective field goal percentage (66% eFG)— and has been the catalyst for the Bruins' improvement this season.
Monte Morris, Iowa State
Stat line: 16.3 points per game, 6.2 assists, 46.6 percentFG, 38.9 percent3FG
Morris had a huge hand in knocking off Kansas last month (25 points, seven assists, 9-of-16 shooting) and has been hot for the Cyclones lately— he's scored in double-figures in each of the last 11 games, including a 17-point, six-rebound, three-assist effort in the Big 12 Championship win over West Virginia. The senior's got experience in big games, too, and that makes him thego-to guy for Iowa State.
Matt Farrell, Notre Dame
Stat line: 14.2 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, 44.2 percentFG, 41.3 percent3FG
Farrell's finally getting his chance to shine this year after sitting behind Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant, and he's made the most of his opportunity as a leader and as a scorer. The Fighting Irish have plenty of scorers— Bonzie Colson, V.J. Beachem, Steve Vasturia— soit's a testament to Farrell that he's filled it up as much as he has while also evenly distributingthe rock.
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
Stat line: 19 ppg, 6.2 apg, 44.1 percentFG, 38 percent3FG
Evans has a hand in 43.5 percent of the Cowboys' field goals, the third-best rate in the nation per KenPom. Add that to his improvement over the last 15 games of the season— averaging 19.9 points and 7.2 assists— to lead Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament, and he's a dangerous guy to defend.
Naturally, there are a few exceptions to this "rule". Such as the aforementioned twotitle-winning point guards(Taurean Green, Florida and Khalid El-Amin, Connecticut) who averaged less than four assists per game, and three (Steve Blake,Maryland;Jon Scheyer,Duke; and Green) who shot below 40 percent from the field.
So we especailly can't count out the teams whose PGs are this close to that average line. Which point guards in this year's field fall just short of measuring up?
Frank Mason, Kansas
Stat line: 20.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 48.7 percentFG, 48.7 percent3FG
We got a little picky here, but we had to for data's sake. Sporting News' Player of the Year is just 0.3 assists per game away from the average national title-winning point guard stat line, which turns out to be just 10 total assists. Besides those 10 assists, Mason is a do-it-all player and could have an explosive tournament.
De'Aaron Fox, Kentucky
Stat line: 15.7 ppg, 5 apg, 47.2 percentFG, 23 percent3FG
Fox's outside shooting struggles put him on this list, though he has gotten better as of late. The freshman doesn't take many threes to begin with, but it's not a great sign for Kentucky when its lead guardcan't shoot from long range. Maybe his 3-5 performance from deep in three SEC Tournament games is a sign he's trending up?
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
Stat line: 16.9 ppg, 4.8 apg, 52.1 percentFG, 37.2 percent3FG
Like Mason, Williams-Goss is oh-so-close to the average state line, just 19 assists total away from that apg average. Considering he leads the Bulldogs in minutes, points, assists and steals per game, is there much more he can do to peak at the right time for Gonzaga?
Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Stat line: 14.8 ppg, 4.2 apg, 54.1 percentFG, 39.6 percent3FG
Brunson didn't really need to be the go-to guyfor the defending national champs who returned Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and Mikal Bridges, and that undersellshow much he's improved. If he can be more of adistributor in the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are the team to beat.
Joel Berry, North Carolina
Stat line: 14.8 ppg, 3.7 apg, 45.4 percentFG, 41.5 percent3FG
Berry's inconsistency and foul trouble can spell doom for the Tar Heels— just look at their most recent game against Duke. He's the conductor of the offense and can't get frustrated when shots aren't falling.
Then there are teams whose point guards aren't even close to the average. Maybe it's beacuse they have combo guards or big men who get a lot of touches, but maybe it's because these point guards just aren't playmakers, either at the rim or in dishing out the ball.
Which teams' point guards play a backseat roleand, after looking atthe stats, should be avoided when picking a national champion?
Frank Jackson, Duke
Stat line: 10.7 ppg, 1.6 apg, 47.3 percent FG, 39.8 percent3FG
Kasey Hill, Florida
Stat line: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 40.4 percentFG, 21.1 percent3FG
Kadeem Allen, Arizona
Stat line: 9.7 ppg, 3.1 apg, 44.4 percentFG, 40.8 percent3FG