Stats & Info: Vanderbilt Commodores

The bowl winners will be ...

December, 19, 2013
With bowl season upon us, we can project the winners of the 35 Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games using the Football Power Index.

FPI is a predictive measure of team strength that uses the elements of team offensive, defensive and special-teams performance (adjusted for opponent) that correlate most with future results.

We can use each team’s FPI and the site of the game (all bowl games are treated as neutral) to calculate the expected point differential in a matchup and the percentage chance of each team winning.

In prior years, FPI has done reasonably well in projecting bowl winners (taking the team with the higher chance as the “winner”), getting about 65 percent of games right since 2004.

There have been some lean years in the past, but FPI has been quite good in the three most recent bowl seasons, accurately projecting 70 percent of winners in those games.

FPI takes into account only a team’s on-field performance to date in the given season. It doesn’t explicitly take into account players who are out with injuries or for other reasons, coaching movement before the bowls or differing levels of motivation that are sometimes thought to exist in bowl games.

In the 2013 regular season, starting with games on Sept. 26, FPI accurately projected 74 percent of winners.

FPI believes there to be a very clear favorite (80 percent or more to win) in four of the five BCS matchups, with Ohio State and Clemson as the most evenly matched BCS opponents.

The projections for all 35 bowl games this season are below. A couple of things that stand out:

The two most-lopsided matchups, according to FPI, involve a Pac-12 team facing a Big 12 opponent from Texas. FPI has Oregon as 91 percent likely to defeat Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl and Arizona State as 91 percent likely to beat Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl.

The most-even matchup, according to FPI, is Kansas State versus Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, with the teams separated by a little more than a point in FPI (the Wildcats are 53 percent favorites). The closest “high-profile” bowl game is the AT&T Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and Missouri, with the Cowboys 54 percent likely to win, according to FPI.

The Vizio BCS National Championship is the only bowl game with both teams ranked in the top 10 in FPI. Three other games involve two FPI top-20 teams: Wisconsin-South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl; Oklahoma State-Missouri in the Cotton Bowl and Ohio State-Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Which QBs had the top games in Week 3?

September, 17, 2013

AP PhotoJoe Southwick and Blake Bell were among the best performers of the past week.
Week 3 of the 2013 college football season will largely be remembered for Alabama’s 49-42 victory against Texas A&M in what became a matchup of two high-powered offenses.

Texas A&M gained 628 total yards and 31 first downs against Alabama, but Johnny Manziel’s two interceptions – each of which dropped Texas A&M’s chances of winning by 12 percentage points – proved too costly for the Aggies to overcome.

For a complete analytical breakdown of Alabama’s victory against Texas A&M, see Analytics Specialist Alok Pattani’s description here.

As significant as Alabama’s win was for the national title race, there were 61 other games involving FBS teams this week. Of those games, which individual and team performances were most impressive?

Best Individual Performances
Taylor Heinicke (99.5 Total QBR) of Old Dominion posted the highest Total QBR of Week 3 after throwing for 406 yards and accounting for five total touchdowns against Howard.

Heinicke helped Old Dominion set a new school record in points (76) in only its third game as a transitioning member of the FBS.

Joe Southwick (98.8 Total QBR) had a career-high Total QBR in Boise State’s 42-20 win against Air Force on Friday. It was the highest Total QBR by a Boise State quarterback in the last 10 seasons, and 1.2 points higher than any game recorded by former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

Marcus Mariota (97.5 Total QBR) recorded his third straight game with a Total QBR of 97 or above in Oregon’s victory against Tennessee. In the last 10 seasons, Mariota is the first player (minimum 20 action plays per game) to open the season with three straight games with a Total QBR of 97 or above.

Blake Bell (96.7 Total QBR) threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns in Oklahoma’s 51-20 win against Tulsa. Bell’s 96.7 Total QBR was the highest by an Oklahoma quarterback since Sam Bradford posted a 99.0 against Baylor on Oct. 4, 2008. Bell proved to be more than a goal-line “Belldozer” by adding the fourth-most expected points on passing plays of any FBS quarterback in Week 3.

Blake Bortles (94.8 Total QBR) threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in UCF's 34-31 upset win at Penn State. Bortles converted 5-of-6 passes on third down, including two touchdowns, and completed a career-high six passes of 20 yards or longer against the Nittany Lions.

Best Team Performances
Offense –- Florida State: After trailing 7-3 to Nevada early in the second quarter, Florida State scored 59 straight points to end the game, including 45 points on eight second-half drives. The Seminoles’ offense added 31 expected points in the second half, the most by any team in the last 10 seasons.

Defense –- Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are normally known for their offense, but on Thursday, their defense held TCU to 10 points and contributed about 16 net points toward their 10-point margin of victory.

Texas Tech stopped TCU on 15 of its 18 third- or fourth-down chances and forced a punt or turnover on all six of the Horned Frogs' first-half drives.

Special Teams – Vanderbilt: The Commodores lost 35-25 to South Carolina on Saturday, but it could have been a lot worse if not for their special teams unit. Vanderbilt’s special teams added about 15 expected points, the most of any team in a game this season.

Overall, Vanderbilt started its drives 20 yards closer to the end zone than South Carolina did largely because of two fourth-quarter fumbles forced by its special teams unit.

Deeper look at final play of Arizona State-Wisconsin
In potentially the strangest play of the season, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave attempted to center the ball on the Arizona State 15-yard line with about 15 seconds remaining to set up a game-winning field goal attempt. The Arizona State players covered the ball, claiming that Stave was not down and therefore had fumbled.

Although officials ruled Stave down, the ball was not set in time for Wisconsin to spike the ball, stop the clock and attempt a field goal. Just how much did that play cost the Badgers?

In the last 10 seasons, the FBS average conversion percentage on 32- or 33-yard field goal attempts is 76 percent. Accounting for the slim chance of a kickoff return touchdown or turnover, Wisconsin had a 72 percent chance of winning the game prior to Stave’s two-yard loss.

Therefore, as time ran out, Wisconsin’s chance of winning fell from 72 percent to 0 percent, the second largest swing for any play this season behind only the 75-yard rush touchdown by Ole Miss against Vanderbilt to take the lead in the fourth quarter (75 percent swing).

Wisconsin must regroup before taking on Purdue (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC), No. 4 Ohio State and No. 18 Northwestern in the next three weeks.

For a complete explanation of ESPN’s new CFB storytelling metrics, click here.

Numbers to know from signing day

February, 7, 2013
1 – Alabama’s class rank. Every year that head coach Nick Saban has had a full season to recruit (since 2008), the Crimson Tide have had a top-three class. No other school has even had a top-10 class each of the past six years. Alabama received commitments from three of the top-10 running backs, plus Derrick Henry (No. 9 in ESPN 300, No. 1 Athlete), the leading rusher in high school football history.

3 – Number of Ole Miss’s recruits ranked in the top 20 of the ESPN 300. Since ESPN recruiting rankings were introduced in 2006, Ole Miss had never had a single top-20 recruit. Head coach Hugh Freeze received letters of intent from two of the top five recruits, including the top ranked player in the ESPN 300, DE Robert Nkemdiche.

7 – Number of players since November who have decommitted from USC, and all were in the ESPN 300. USC’s class was ranked No. 1 for more than three months between July and November, but now it's ranked 14th. Two of those decommits, Eldridge Massington (No. 172 in ESPN 300, No. 21 WR) and Kylie Fitts (No. 86 in ESPN 300, No. 8 DE) flipped their commitments to rival UCLA. The Bruins finished the day with the 12th-ranked class, the first time since 2006 they finished ahead of their crosstown rival.

7 – The number of top-10 recruiting classes Urban Meyer has had since 2006, and not one of those classes ranked lower than sixth. The only other coach with seven top-10 classes is Mack Brown. This year, Meyer and Ohio State scored the No. 3 recruiting class, headlined by CB Eli Apple (No. 11 in ESPN 300, No. 3 CB).

7 – The number of top-five recruiting classes Florida has had since 2006, most among all schools. Entering National Signing Day, the Gators had the top-ranked class before finishing the day second. Florida is one of three schools with multiple five-star recruits this year (Ole Miss and Notre Dame).

12 – The number of four-star recruits Vanderbilt has received letters of intent from. The past two seasons, James Franklin has recruited 15 players with a grade of 80 or better. In the previous four seasons, Vanderbilt didn’t recruit a single such player.

14 - The number of SEC schools with top-40 recruiting classes. All 14 schools have top-40 classes, with none lower than 36th (Kentucky). Six of those schools are ranked in the top 10, the most any conference has had since 2006.

15 – Texas’ class rank, the Longhorns' lowest since 2006. Texas had been the only school with a top-10 class every year since 2006. Texas still had the highest ranked recruiting class in the Big 12.

15 – Number of players in the ESPN 300 that have yet to sign letters of intent. Eleven have yet to commit to any school while four have yet to sign their letters of intent for various reasons.

16 - The number of states Notre Dame’s 23 recruits reside in. Notre Dame has the No. 4 class this season, the highest ranked class it has had since 2006. It’s Notre Dame’s sixth top-10 class and third straight under Brian Kelly.

Stanford will challenge Oregon's fast strikes

November, 15, 2012
The Oregon Ducks average more points in the first half than 87 FBS teams do in an entire game. The Ducks have not trailed past the first quarter, and their average halftime lead is 25.8 points, 7.4 points better than any other FBS team.

If Oregon continued its first-half pace in the second half, the Ducks would average 69.6 points and 712.8 yards per game. Those numbers would crush the FBS records for points (56.0 by Army in 1944) and yards (624.9 by Houston in 1989) per game in a season. However, the Ducks will get challenged this week. Stanford is one of five teams that has not allowed a touchdown in less than a minute against an FBS opponent, and the only team that has not allowed a touchdown in three plays or fewer.

Speaking of Stanford, Urban Meyer and Ohio State are trying do something that Stanford and one other team have done: go undefeated the season after losing at least seven games. With two games remaining, Ohio State is 10-0 after going 6-7 in 2011. In the AP Poll era (since 1936), only two teams have had a perfect season after losing at least seven games the previous year. In 1943, Purdue went 9-0 after going 1-8 in 1942. The 1940 Stanford team was 10-0 after going 1-7-1 in 1939. Neither of those teams would claim the national championship in their perfect seasons.

Kansas State moved to the top of the BCS Standings this week, but that spot hasn't been kind to Big 12 teams over the years. This is the eighth time since the final BCS Standings in 2003 that a Big 12 team has held the top spot. However, the other seven teams are just 2-5 in their next games, and only one of those seven teams maintained the top spot the following week (Texas in 2008). Oklahoma went on to lose in the national championship game in 2003 and 2008.

From Kansas State to the Kent State Flashes, who are one win shy of the first 10-win season in school history. But the Golden Flashes, who began playing football in 1920, are far from having the longest tenure without a 10-win season. That distinction belongs to Indiana, which began playing football in 1887. In fact, the Hoosiers have had just two nine-win seasons in their history. Of the current 120 FBS teams that have been playing football for at least 50 years, nine have never had a 10-win season (Buffalo, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Utah State, Western Michigan and Vanderbilt).

As for Vanderbilt, with a win against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, the Commodores will clinch their first winning season in the SEC since 1982, when they went 4-2 in the conference. That's a long time, but it's not the longest active streak among current FBS teams. In fact, you don't even need to look beyond the SEC East to find a longer streak. The Kentucky Wildcats have the longest current streak of consecutive non-winning seasons in conference games. The Wildcats haven't had a winning SEC record since 1977 when they went 6-0, but were ineligible for the SEC championship and a bowl game due to NCAA probation.

Notre Dame defense reminiscent of Tide's

October, 11, 2012
Notre Dame has allowed six or fewer points in each of its last three games. No FBS team has had a four-game streak since Alabama in 1993. That Tide team held Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and South Carolina to six or fewer points early in that season. The streak was broken with a 17-17 tie against Tennessee.

Oklahoma State Goes for 30
Oklahoma State has scored at least 30 points in 22 consecutive games. If the Cowboys can reach the 30-point mark against Kansas this week, they will own the all-time record for consecutive 30-point games.

They currently co-own the mark with Hawaii, who had a 22-game stretch from 2006-07. In fact, two of the four longest all-time streaks are current. Oregon has scored at least 30 points in 19 straight games (tied with 1971-72 Arizona State for third most).

Vanderbilt Struggling Against Top Competition
Vanderbilt is facing its second AP top-five team of the season. The Commodores lost 48-3 earlier this season to fifth-ranked Georgia. It's not a situation where Vandy feels very comfortable. Overall, the Commodores are 0-46 on the field against AP top-five teams (was awarded a win against Alabama in 1993 due to forfeit).

To make things worse, 38 of those losses were by double digits and only four times did they score at least 20 points. Eight of the 46 losses have come against this week’s opponent Florida.

Duke Has Rare Bowling Opportunity
Duke can become bowl eligible this week with a win over Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils currently own the longest bowl drought among BCS-AQ teams, having not gone to the postseason since 1994. If Duke ends its drought, Washington State Cougars will now own the distinction, last appearing in a bowl in 2003.

But Duke will have to reverse some recent history to get there. The Blue Devils are just 4-72 since that last bowl appearance against the remaining six teams on their schedule this season (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami) and hasn't beaten any of those teams since 2004.

Marcus Lattimore is a True Workhorse
In SEC games, Marcus Lattimore has run between the tackles on 76.3 percent of his carries. He has averaged 4.4 yards per carry on these runs with 48 percent of his yards coming after contact.

Lattimore gets even stronger in the fourth quarter, when he averages 5.5 yards per run inside the tackles with 3.3 yards coming after contact. He’ll face an LSU defense that allowed 52 yards on 12 carries in the fourth quarter to Florida’s Mike Gillislee last week, including 21 yards after contact.

South Carolina owns Thursday openers

August, 29, 2012

ESPN Stats & InformationSouth Carolina is 5-0 on the 1st Thursday night of the college football season under Steve Spurrier.
Thursday sees the return of college football with the ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks traveling to play the Vanderbilt Commodores (ESPN, 7 ET).

South Carolina has dominated the series with Vanderbilt lately, winning 10 of the past 12 meetings. The two losses came in 2007 and 2008, when unranked Vanderbilt teams topped a ranked South Carolina squad.

South Carolina is very familiar with playing on the first Thursday night of the college football season lately, and it’s become a staple of the Steve Spurrier era. The school has done it five previous times in the Spurrier era, and have come away with a victory each time.

The Gamecocks open as a top-10 team in the AP preseason poll for the first time in AP preseason poll history. They opened No. 12 in the poll last year and before that, their previous high was No. 14 in the 1959 preseason poll.

Gamecock fans will be thrilled to welcome running back Marcus Lattimore back to the field. He missed his team’s final six games last season after tearing his ACL. He proved crucial to the South Carolina run game, as even after missing those six games last year, Lattimore still finished as the team’s leading rusher with 818 yards.

This is the second year of the James Franklin era for Vanderbilt. Last year, he became the only Vanderbilt coach in his first season to lead the team to a bowl game. The task this season could be challenging, as Vanderbilt has never made bowls in back-to-back seasons.

Talk college football with @ESPNStatsInfo today beginning at 3 ET. You can start asking questions now: #AskESPNStats

Gators offense just offensive post-Tebow

August, 16, 2012
It's only year two of the Will Muschamp era at Florida, but Gator fans have to be feeling uneasy about its stagnant offense while winning just five regular-season games against FBS opponents in 2011.

Even more troubling, none of the five wins came against teams that finished the year with a winning record (1-11 FAU, 3-9 UAB, 5-7 Tennessee, 5-7 Kentucky and 6-7 Vanderbilt).

Expanding the scope and looking at the Gators against all automatic qualifiers, you can see just how much they scuffled in 2011.

Florida ranked 65th of 67 AQ schools in both third-down percentage (29.0) and total yards per game (284.0). Its offense also finished 64th in red-zone touchdown percentage (41.7).

Florida’s struggles really started with the departures of Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin to the NFL.

Led by Tebow and Harvin in 2007 and 2008, the Florida offense completed 38 touchdown passes and threw eight interceptions in SEC contests.

With Tebow alone in 2009, the Gators managed only nine touchdown passes and five picks in SEC play, illustrating Harvin's importance to the team.

The last two years have been even worse for Florida - a combined 12 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions against conference opponents.

Quarterback John Brantley never looked comfortable, while Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel went through predictable freshman growing pains. Not surprisingly, the Gators went 7-9 in the SEC over the last two seasons.

Both Brissett and Driskel struggled in particular when attempting to stretch the field in 2011.

Together, the pair combined to complete only 31 percent of their pass attempts of 10-plus yards downfield with one touchdown and five interceptions. On throws 20-plus yards, that percentage dropped to 6.7 percent (1-15) with a touchdown and four picks.

Along with their struggles through the air, the running game also let the Gators down in 2011.

Florida ranked 73rd in the FBS in rush yards per game (143.0) and scored an SEC-low nine rushing touchdowns. Of those nine touchdowns, seven came in two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

The one bright spot for Florida was wide receiver Andre Debose. He reeled in a team-high four catches on pass attempts of 20-plus yards downfield and all four went for touchdowns.

More impressively, the four touchdown catches all gained at least 60 yards, giving Debose the most 60-plus touchdown receptions in the SEC (second in FBS).

Hired away from Boise State, new offensive coordinator Brent Pease has been asked to revive Florida’s sputtering offense.

Last season Boise State finished fifth in points (44.2) and T-ninth in yards per game (481.3) albeit against non-SEC competition.

Even still, if Florida puts up anywhere near those numbers in 2012, the Gators and their fans will be more than happy to "give Pease a chance".
(1) Syracuse 72, (16) UNC-Asheville 65
In 1991, the Orange became the first 2-seed to lose to a 15-seed.

Thursday, it looked like Syracuse might become the first 1-seed to lose in the Round of 64.

Jim Boeheim’s team was the first 1-seed to be trailing at halftime since Kansas in 2002, but the Orange were able to hold on late, winning by seven.

UNC-Asheville led by four at halftime. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bulldogs are the seventh 16-seed to lead at halftime. The largest halftime lead by a 16-seed is eight points, done twice in 1989 by Princeton (over Georgetown) and East Tennessee State (over Oklahoma).

Syracuse’s seven-point win was the 12th time since 1985 that a 1-seed defeated a 16-seed by fewer than 10 points.

(3) Marquette 88, (14) BYU 68
Jae Crowder had a double-double by halftime, finishing with 25 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four steals. He's just the third player to reach those totals in an NCAA Tournament game. Crowder is only the fifth Big East player to go 25-15 in a Men’s Basketball Championship game, and the first since DeJuan Blair in 2009.

(6) Murray State 58, (11) Colorado State 41
Colorado State had the lead at halftime, then came out in the second half and made just seven field goals (0-7 behind the 3-point line) and scored 17 points.

The 41 points scored by CSU is the fewest by a Mountain West team in a Men's Basketball Championship game. The previous low was 47 by New Mexico in 2005 vs Villanova in the Round of 64.

Murray State advances to the Round of 32 for the third time in school history, but the Racers have never reached the Sweet 16. In fact, since 1985 Ohio Valley Conference schools are a combined 0-5 in the Round of 32.

And although it was just a point deficit at halftime, Murray State now is 6-0 this season when trailing at half.

(4) Wisconsin 73, (13) Montana 49
Bo Ryan is 10-1 as a head coach in Round of 64 games, and the Badgers extended their school record of reaching the Round of 32 for a sixth consecutive year.

(8) Kansas State 70, (9) Southern Miss64
Rodney McGruder had 30 points and no turnovers as the Wildcats reach the Round of 32 for a school record third straight season. McGruder is the fifth player in the past five years of the Men’s Basketball Championship to score at least 30 points in a game without committing a turnover.

(4) Louisville 69, (13) Davidson 62
Louisville snaps a streak of three straight losses in the Men's Basketball Championship. Louisville only attempted five 3-point field goals, the fewest in a tournament win since Boston College attempted four in 2004.

(5) New Mexico 75, (12) Long Beach State 68
New Mexico wins its 28th game of the season, tied for the second-most in school history (30 wins in 2009-10). Long Beach State loses its fifth straight game in the Men's Basketball Championship and has not won since 1973.

(5) Vanderbilt 79, (12) Harvard 70
After leading by as much as 18 in the 2nd half, Vanderbilt advances to the Round of 32 for the first time since 2007. Harvard lost in its first Men's Basketball Championship since 1946.

Stats in the Paint: Weekend Outlook

February, 24, 2012
Let’s get you "warmed up" for the College GameDay road show (live on Saturday from Storrs, Conn., at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN) by taking a look at some notes and nuggets from our college hoops advanced stats research team (a group we call the "Stats in the Paint" team).

(2) Syracuse at Connecticut, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN

When Syracuse has the ball: Watch for the Orange to take advantage of turnovers. Syracuse scores 21.4 points per game off turnovers this season, which leads all major-conference schools. The Orange score 1.24 points for every turnover that their opponents commit, which is the most among major-conference schools. Their percentage of points off turnovers also leads among Big Six teams this season.

When Connecticut has the ball: Which Huskies team will show up? Connecticut is shooting 60.0 percent in transition in its seven Big East wins this season and 46.2 percent in its eight conference losses.

Jeremy Lamb is shooting 49.5 percent against man defense in Big East play and 36.5 percent against zone defense. Lamb will have to deal with a Syracuse zone defense that's tops in the nation forcing 12.0 turnovers per game and is fifth in opponents' field goal percentage at 35.0.

Saturday’s Other Notable Matchups

Vanderbilt at (1) Kentucky, Noon ET

Key stat: Kentucky's Anthony Davis has 133 blocks and is averaging 4.8 blocks per game this season, both of which lead the nation. Davis has kept 99 of his 133 blocks inbounds this season, leading to 72 Kentucky points. He also has 81 dunks this season, more than the rest of the Kentucky team combined (61). The Wildcats are also seeking their 51st straight win at home.

(3) Missouri at (5) Kansas, 4 p.m. ET

Key stat: Missouri is 8-1 this season in games decided by nine or fewer points while Kansas is 6-4. Kansas is 20-0 this season when it holds opponents to less than a point per possession; the Jayhawks are 3-5 when they don’t. Kansas allowed a season-high 1.10 points per possession against Missouri on Feb. 4.

(7) North Carolina at Virginia, 4 p.m. ET on ESPN

Key stat: Virginia’s opponents average 60.7 possessions per game this season, the fourth fewest in the nation, but the Tar Heels average 73.2 possessions per game, ninth most in the country according to North Carolina has scored 543 points in transition this season, the fourth most in the nation. The Cavaliers trail only Ohio State when it comes to allowing the fewest points per 100 possessions this season.

Thursday recap: Curry powers Duke

February, 17, 2012
First Half of the Night – Jeffery Taylor
Taylor had 23 of his game-high 28 points in the first half, as Vanderbilt defeated Ole Miss 102-76. He hit his first seven shots and was 8-for-10 in the first half. Taylor finished two points shy of his career-high. With a 25-point halftime lead, his scoring wasn’t needed in the second half.

Second Half of the Night – Seth Curry
Duke trailed by 20 points with 11-and-a-half minutes remaining, but the Blue Devils outscored NC State 37-12 the rest of the way. Curry himself outscored the Wolfpack 16-12 in that stretch, and he had 20 of his 26 points in the second half, setting a career high at Duke (he scored 35 as a freshman at Liberty).

Stat Sheet Stuffer – Draymond Green
Michigan State made relatively easy work of Wisconsin with a 69-55 win, as Green went for 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. It’s his fourth 20-10-5 game this season. Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum (two) is the only other player with more than one such game. Over the previous 15 seasons, the only major conference players with four or more such games in a season are Evan Turner (six), Carmelo Anthony (four) and Tim Duncan (five).

Freshman of the Night – Matt Carlino
Carlino scored a career-high 30 points, including the game-winning layup with 18 seconds to go, as BYU edged San Francisco 85-84. The freshman exploded out of the gates with 20 points in the first eight minutes. He’s the first BYU player to score 30 since Jimmer Fredette, but even Jimmer never scored 20 as a freshman.

Ugly Stat Line of the Night – Virginia Tech
Perhaps credit should instead go to Florida State for erasing a nine-point deficit with less than 90 seconds remaining. But look at the ineptitude of Virginia Tech’s finish to the game. In the final eight minutes, Virginia Tech went 1-for-8 from the field and 3-for-10 from the line. That allowed Michael Snaer's 3-pointer with four seconds left to give the Seminoles a 48-47 win.
Let’s get you warmed up for the College GameDay road show (live on Saturday from Nashville, Tenn. at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN) by taking a look at some notes and nuggets from our college hoops advanced stats research team (a group we call the "Stats in the Paint" team).

(1) Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 9 ET on ESPN

When Kentucky has the ball: Kentucky leads the SEC and ranks third among all Big Six conference schools in paint points per game (37.6) this season. More than 48 percent of the Wildcats’ points have come in the paint, the second-highest percentage by any school from a Big Six conference.

Kentucky averages 1.2 points per possession in SEC games this season, which leads all teams from Big Six Conferences.

The Wildcats are shooting 59.1 percent in transition, second in the SEC, but in conference games, their transition offense has struggled on the road.

When Vanderbilt has the ball: Vanderbilt has an effective field goal percentage of 56.1 and is shooting 42.1 percent from 3-point range during SEC play this season, which are both first in the conference.

In its last three games, Vanderbilt is shooting 31.8 percent (21-66) from 3-point range and is 10-for-40 (25.0 percent) on catch-and-shoot field goal attempts.

Kentucky averages 9.2 blocks per game and has a block percentage of 15.7, both of which are first in the nation.

Saturday’s Other Matchups

(12) Michigan State at (3) Ohio State, 6 ET on ESPN

Key stat: Ohio State averages 35.5 paint points per game this season, which leads the Big Ten. Michigan State averages 35.3 points in the paint, which is the second-most in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes allow just 21.8 paint points per game, third-fewest by any team in a Big Six conference.

(6) Baylor at (4) Missouri, 1:30 ET on ESPN3
Key stat: Missouri scored 46 points in the paint against Baylor on Jan. 21, its most in conference play this season. In that game, the Tigers made 16-of-18 field goals attempted inside of 5 feet.

(20) Virginia at (5) North Carolina, 1 ET on ESPN3

Key stat:
The Tar Heels have scored 498 points in transition this season, fourth-most in the nation. Virginia’s defense has allowed just 130 points in transition, fourth-fewest in Division I.

(14) San Diego State at (16) UNLV, 4 ET
Key stat:
San Diego State scored 18 points on 14 transition plays in its win against UNLV on Jan. 14. It was the most transition plays and points for the Aztecs in Mountain West play this season.

UNLV ranks second in the nation this season in both transition points (509) and transition plays (437). The Rebels have 288 more transition plays than the Aztecs this season.

Thursday recap: Murray State finally falls

February, 10, 2012
And Then There Were None
Murray State becomes the last Division I men’s team to lose, falling to Tennessee State, 72-68. Murray State led by as much as 13 in the second half, but allowed Tennessee State to outscore them 37-20 in the final 14:45.

Not only is it the first loss for Murray State, it’s the first career loss for Racers head coach Steve Prohm.

Although Murray State just lost for the first time this season, should the Racers be concerned about not even making the Men’s Basketball Championship?

Murray State has five regular season games remaining, including next Saturday at home against No. 13 Saint Mary's. If the Racers lose two of those five games, lose in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and don't get an at-large bid, the Racers would wind up on this list.

Gonzaga hands No. 13 Saint Mary’s its first loss since December
Kevin Pangos scored 27 points (5-6 from 3-point range) and Elias Harris contributes 10 points and 10 rebounds as Gonzaga hands Saint Mary's its first WCC loss of the season and snaps its 12-game winning streak. The Bulldogs have beaten the Gaels in three of their past four meetings and three straight times when Saint Mary's has been ranked. Gonzaga has defeated Saint Mary's in 15 of its last 16 meetings in Spokane.

Mississippi State avoids being swept by Ole Miss for first time since 1998
Arnett Moultrie had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Dee Bost added 15 points and a career-high 13 assists. Mississippi State has won 13 straight home games and avoids being swept by its rival, something that hasn't been done since 1998. Mississippi State is 13-1 at home against Ole Miss under Rick Stansbury. Reginald Buckner had 15 points and 9 rebounds for the Rebels, who have lost three of their four games against ranked opponents this season.

Scott Wood misses a FT
In North Carolina State’s 61-52 win over Georgia Tech, Scott Wood had his streak of consecutive free throws made end at 66. The 66 straight made free throws is the fourth-longest streak in Division I history.

Vanderbilt hosts GameDay and Kentucky
This will be the 179th meeting between these SEC rivals, with Kentucky leading the all-time series 135-43. The 135 wins against Vanderbilt are the second-most for Kentucky against any one opponent (Tennessee, 148).

The Wildcats have opened SEC play winning their first 10 games for the first time since the 2004-05 season. The past three times Kentucky started 10-0 in the SEC, the Wildcats reached at least the Elite 8 in the each time, including winning the national championship in 1996.

For Vanderbilt, the Commodores will look to earn their eighth win and seventh home win against the AP No. 1-ranked team.

If the Commodores pull the upset, they’ll move into a tie for the fourth-most wins all-time against the No. 1-ranked team, along with being tied for the most home wins all-time against the No. 1-ranked team. In fact, the past four times Vanderbilt hosted the No. 1-ranked team, the Commodores won the game.

Vanderbilt has long shot to upset Kentucky

February, 10, 2012

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Jeffrey Taylor and Vanderbilt have what it takes to upset No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.
College GameDay takes center stage in Nashville this weekend, where the Vanderbilt Commodores look to upset the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

Vanderbilt's offense has carried the team during its 6-3 SEC run. The Commodores lead the league in effective field goal percentage in conference play.

They’ll face a huge challenge Saturday against the Wildcats, who are unbeaten in SEC play, bring the conference’s best defense into the contest, and lead the nation in margin of victory.

In this strength-versus-strength matchup, let's take a look at how Vanderbilt might be able to pull off the upset.


One of the biggest challenges that Vanderbilt will be to avoid the shot-blocking efforts of Kentucky's Anthony Davis. Vanderbilt has options to combat that.

One is via the 3-point shot. The Commodores' league-leading attack has been fueled by its prolific long-distance shooting. Vanderbilt ranks first in 3-point accuracy during SEC games and has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in more than half of its conference games.

Kentucky ranks third during conference play in 3-point field goal defense. However the Wildcats did allow the league's worst long-distance shooting team, Alabama, to make 5-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc on January 21.

Kentucky has also held its SEC opponents to a league-best 0.91 points per possession according to

The Wildcats block a Division I-best 22 percent of their opponents 2-point attempts, led by a 15 percent mark from Anthony Davis which ranks third in the country.

But Kentucky has been vulnerable during league play when defending players coming off a screen.

League opponents have averaged 1.14 points per play on screens, the worst mark Kentucky has allowed on any play type in SEC games.

Conference foes have made 44 percent of their shots from the floor, including more than half from beyond the arc when coming off screens.

Vanderbilt has the perimeter shooters to take advantage of this weakness. Jeffery Taylor is averaging 1.36 points per play and shooting 55 percent coming off a screen this season, both of which rank second in the conference, and John Jenkins also averages better than one point per play off screens.

The Commodores have connected on 50 percent of their 3-pointers and 45 percent of all shots off screens in conference games, and have turned the ball over just once on 46 plays.

In its 15-point win over LSU this week, Vanderbilt made 5-of-11 shots coming off a screen, including 3-of-6 from long distance.

The Wildcats own the league's second-best offense on spot up plays, averaging better than a point per play. Doron Lamb and Darius Miller have torched opposing defenses all season, making a combined 48 percent of their spot-up attempts.

Vanderbilt struggled to defend spot-up play during its non-conference slate but has really improved against SEC teams (see chart on right).

After allowing six of its 15 non-conference opponents to average more than one point per spot-up play, Vanderbilt has done that just once in nine conference games.

Taylor has been the Commodores' best spot-up defender this season. Opponents have made just a quarter of their spot-up shots against Taylor, the fifth-lowest shooting percentage against an individual defender in the SEC.

Stats in the Paint: Weekend outlook

February, 3, 2012

Dak Dillon/US PresswireUnder Frank Haith, the Missouri Tigers have slowed down the tempo while increasing their efficiency.
Let’s get you warmed up for the "College GameDay" road show (live Saturday from Columbia, Mo., at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN) by taking a look at some notes and nuggets from our college hoops advanced stats research team (a group we call the "Stats in the Paint" team).

(8) Kansas at (4) Missouri, 9 ET on ESPN and ESPN3
Key stat: Missouri is shooting 57 percent inside the 3-point line this season, tops in the nation. Kansas is holding opponents to 39 percent shooting on 2-point field goals, which ranks fourth in the nation and leads the Big 12.

When Missouri has the ball: Missouri returned 89 percent of its scoring and has the best half-court offense in the country this season after ranking 44th last season.

Under first-year coach Frank Haith, the Tigers abandoned their “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” and average six fewer possessions per game.

When Kansas has the ball: Tyshawn Taylor has eclipsed the 20-point mark in four of his last six games. Taylor has been much better on pick-and-roll plays during that stretch, averaging 8 points per game and shooting 64 percent. Over the first 16 games of the season, he averaged just 2 points while shooting 28 percent and turning the ball over more than twice as frequently.

Taylor’s recent success has allowed Thomas Robinson to get open looks in the paint. In Wednesday’s win against Oklahoma, 10 of his 12 shots were at the rim.

Saturday’s Other Matchups
(3) Ohio State at (20) Wisconsin, 2 ET on ESPN and ESPN3
Key stat: During its six-game winning streak, Wisconsin has scored 38 points and is shooting 68 percent in transition. The Badgers scored 19 transition points and shot 53 percent while losing three of their first four conference games.

(6) Baylor at Oklahoma State, 1:45 ET on ESPN3
Key stat: Oklahoma State averages 28 paint points per game this season, the most in the Big 12. Baylor allowed 47 paint points per game in its two losses this season and 23 in its 20 wins.

Vanderbilt at (11) Florida, 1 ET
Key stat: Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins and Florida’s Kenny Boynton rank first and second in the SEC in points on catch-and-shoot plays this season.

(15) Marquette at Notre Dame, 1 ET
Key stat: Notre Dame is averaging 57.3 possessions per game during its three-game winning streak and had a season-low 52 possessions in its 50-48 win over Connecticut on Jan. 29. Marquette averages nearly 70 possessions per game in Big East play.

(18) Virginia at (24) Florida State, 1 ET on ESPN3
Key stat: Florida State and Virginia each rank at or near the top of the ACC in several defensive categories this season. The Seminoles (42.3) and Cavaliers (43.4) rank 1-2 in the ACC in opponents' effective field goal percentage this season.

Chris Chambers/Getty ImagesDion Waiters' presence off the bench has helped Syracuse to a 20-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the country.
Let’s get you warmed up for the College GameDay road show (live Saturday from Pittsburgh at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN) by taking a look at some notes and nuggets from our college hoops advanced stats research team (a group we call the "Stats in the Paint" team).

Saturday’s Matchups
(1) Syracuse at Notre Dame, 6 ET on ESPN and ESPN3
Key stat: Syracuse is averaging 37.1 bench points per game this season, which is the most by any Big Six Conference team during the last 15 seasons. The bench has been led by C.J. Fair (+287) and Dion Waiters (+266), who rank 1-2 in the Big East in plus/minus. Waiters has scored 117 transition points this season, which is the third most in the nation.

(5) Missouri at (3) Baylor, 2 ET on ESPN and ESPN3
Key stat: Baylor is getting 26.4 percent of its offense off of turnovers this season, averaging a Big 12-best 20.5 points per game off turnovers. But Missouri only turns the ball over on 15.0 percent of its possessions, the second-best in the nation, and gives up just 10 points off turnovers per game, which leads the Big 12.

Alabama at (2) Kentucky, Noon ET
Key stat: Kentucky is blocking 15.6 percent of its opponents’ shots at 9.3 per game this season, both the best marks in the country. The Wildcats are also holding opponents to 0.68 points per play and 33.8 percent shooting in the half court, which are also both best in the nation.

Non-ranked teams that can make noise
Cincinnati is 8-4 in Big East road games over the last two seasons and has won its last seven conference games on the road. Part of the reason is avoiding turnovers. The Bearcats average 10.5 turnovers per game this season, the second-fewest in the Big East and eighth-fewest in the nation.

Purdue averages 9.6 turnovers per game this season, the second fewest in the nation. The Boilermakers turn the ball over on 14.6 percent of their possessions, which is the lowest percentage in the nation.

Stanford has been getting it done on the boards, grabbing 54.8 percent of available rebounds this season, the best percentage in the Pac-12. The Cardinal also allow 9.6 offensive rebounds per game this season, which is the fewest in the Pac-12.

Vanderbilt's efficient offense has paced them this year. The Commodores score an SEC-best 1.15 points per possession in conference play this season. Vanderbilt also leads the SEC by assisting on 61.6 percent of its field goals in conference play.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
Among the topics Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis plan to tackle:

Where should Murray State be seeded?

According to Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology, 18-0 Murray State would be a No. 7 seed if the tournament started today. Comparing Murray State to the other projected No. 7 seeds, the Racers appear to be seeded correctly based on kenpom’s adjusted efficiency.

Murray St is undefeated, but the Racers have played some close games this season. Eight of their 18 games have been decided by single digits, including a nine-point double-overtime win against Southern Miss.