Top stats to know: Sunday's Elite 8 games

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
11:17
AM ET
The Elite Eight continues Sunday with two more games. Here are some of the statistical storylines we’ll be following.

No. 7 Connecticut Huskies vs. No. 4 Michigan State Spartans
The winner of this 2009 national semifinal rematch will head to the Final Four in North Texas next weekend.

To reach their first Final Four since 2011, the Huskies will have to slow down the Spartans fast-break offense. Michigan State averages 18.5 transition points per game (16th in country) and has scored 54 points on the break in three tournament games.

Connecticut excelled in transition defense during the regular season, holding opponents to just 11.4 transition points per game. However, its three opponents in the tourney have averaged 14.7 points per game in transition, including a total of 37 points in the last two contests.

Both teams can light it up from beyond the arc, ranking among the nation’s top 20 in 3-point percentage this season.

The Huskies are 13-0 when making at least eight 3-point shots; the Spartans are 13-1 when making at least 10 3-pointers.

So which team will be able to defend the perimeter better? It appears to be a toss-up. The Spartans and Huskies both allow teams to make a third of their 3-point shots for the entire season, and both teams have been worse than that lately, with opponents shooting 36 percent from distance in March.

No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines
The Wildcats' talented group of freshmen appears to be peaking at the right time as Kentucky goes for its third Final Four berth in the last four seasons. What has made Kentucky look like the team it was expected to be when it was picked as the preseason No. 1?

Kentucky has won its last two games because it has executed down the stretch in "clutch time."

In the last five minutes and the score within five points, Kentucky outscored Louisville and Wichita State by 12 points. During the regular season, Kentucky was outscored by 13 points in those situations.

In their last two games, the Wildcats are shooting 56 percent and haven't committed a single turnover in clutch time.

Another key has been the improved play of the Harrison twins -- Andrew and Aaron -- in the NCAA tournament. With both Harrisons on the court, Kentucky has outscored its opponents by 29 points. With at least one of them off the court, they have been outscored by 15.

Kentucky’s offense the entire season has been built on its ability to grab offensive boards and draw fouls down low. The Wildcats rank second in the country in offensive rebound percentage and average 29.5 free throw attempts per game, fifth in the country.

The Wolverines have been susceptible on the boards this season, ranking 105th in defensive rebounding percentage. Yet Michigan does a good job of defending without fouling, allowing the fewest free throw attempts per game in the country (14.8).

Consider these stats: Michigan has allowed 18 or fewer free throw attempts in 11 straight games heading into this game; Kentucky has attempted fewer than 18 free throws only once this season, and the Wildcats lost that game against LSU.

Katie Sharp contributed to this post.

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