Stats & Info: Xavier Musketeers
Below is a short preview of each of Thursday’s Sweet 16 matchups. Included in the preview is a “factor to watch” based on Dean Oliver’s Four Factors of basketball success, which have been shown to correlate with winning: shooting, turnovers, rebounding and free throws.
7 Wichita State vs. 3 Notre Dame
BPI Edge: Wichita State 50.1 percent -- projected to be the closest game of the Sweet 16.
This matchup might come down to ... the backcourts. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker of Wichita State and Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson of Notre Dame are two of the best backcourts in the nation. Each duo has combined for more than 12 win shares, an estimate of the wins a player produces for his team.
Most win shares among guard duos, 2014-15 seasons
Fred VanVleet-Ron Baker, Wichita State, 13.3
Delon Wright-Brandon Taylor, Utah, 13.3
Jerian Grant-Demetrius Jackson, Notre Dame 12.8
Source: CBB Reference
(Four) Factor to watch: Shooting: Notre Dame ranks second in the nation in effective field goal percentage, behind Gonzaga. Because Notre Dame ranks outside of the top 100 defensively, it is reliant on its efficient offense; the Irish’s three worst shooting performances resulted in losses. Meanwhile, Wichita State has allowed the second-lowest effective field goal percentage in the nation since the start of February.
4 North Carolina vs. 1 Wisconsin
BPI Edge: Wisconsin 76 percent
This matchup might come down to ... which team can control the tempo. Wisconsin averages 59.8 possessions per game, seventh fewest in the nation and 10 fewer than UNC, the fastest-paced team in the ACC. The Tar Heels have never been held to a pace as slow as Wisconsin’s season average for possessions this season, but of their seven lowest-possession games of the season, they lost five.
(Four) Factor to watch: Rebounding: UNC rebounds more than 40 percent of its missed shots, the fifth-highest offensive rebound percentage in the country. This leads to 14.2 second-chance points per game. Wisconsin rebounds 76 percent of its opponents’ missed shots, fourth-best in the nation.
5 West Virginia vs. 1 Kentucky
BPI Edge: Kentucky 92 percent -- projected to be the most lopsided game.
This matchup might come down to ... whether West Virginia can create offense from its turnovers. The Mountaineers force a turnover on 28 percent of their opponents’ possessions, best in the nation, which leads to a Division I-high 20.7 points per game off turnovers. In the half court, Kentucky is allowing a Division I-best 0.68 points per possession, and West Virginia ranks 258th in the nation in half-court efficiency, so the Mountaineers will have to get out and run to score with the Wildcats.
(Four) Factor to watch: Rebounding: West Virginia and Kentucky are two of seven teams that rebound at least 40 percent of their own missed shots. Each team scores about 13 points per game off offensive rebounds. One weakness for Kentucky is defensive rebounding (ranking 196th), so West Virginia might be able to score some easy points on putbacks.
6 Xavier vs. 2 Arizona
BPI Edge: Arizona 84 percent
This matchup might come down to ... which point guard can make plays. T.J. McConnell and Dee Davis have the highest and third-highest assist rates among players remaining in the NCAA tournament, according to KenPom.com. Each player has been responsible for more than a third of his team’s points in the tournament.
(Four) Factor to watch: Rebounding: Xavier rebounded 33 percent of its missed shots in each of its first two NCAA tournament games, resulting in 25 second-chance points and contributing to its off-the-charts 63.9 effective field goal percentage. Arizona is the best defensive rebounding team in the nation, grabbing 78 percent of its opponents’ missed shots.
BPI rankings corresponded with the first three No. 1 seeds, as Arizona, Florida, and Wichita State are the top three teams in BPI (in that order). But unlike in the previous two official seasons of BPI, the No. 1 overall seed (Florida) is not the No. 1 team in BPI as of Selection Sunday.
The fourth No. 1 seed is Virginia, which is sixth in BPI. Ahead of Virginia in BPI are Louisville and Kansas.
That said, in each of the three official seasons of BPI, the No. 1 seeds all have been ranked in the Top 6 on Selection Sunday. And for the second straight year, three of the four No. 1 seeds ranked better in BPI than RPI.
Differences between committee, BPI
Among the teams in the field, below are those that are most “overseeded” according to BPI (based on their seed if only BPI were used to seed the 68 teams). Second-seeded Michigan was given a seed four spots better than its BPI would suggest, while four other schools are overseeded by three lines from where their BPI ranking would put them:
Similarly, in the chart at the right are the seven teams most underseeded according to BPI -- all at least three seeds worse than they should be, according to the metric. Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Iowa are each seeded five spots below where they would be if the field were seeded by BPI.
Snubs and undeserved bids
BPI was not designed to predict who would make the field of 68, but rather who deserved to make the field (and where they deserved to be seeded) based on a very specific measure of team strength based on its season results.
That said, 63 of the 68 teams -- more precisely, 31 of the 36 at-large teams -- that made the field would have also made the field if it had been selected entirely according to BPI.
The best-ranked at-large team that didn't make it was No. 33 Southern Methodist, while the worst-ranked at-large team that did make it was No. 66 North Carolina State.
Virginia Tech is 7-0 for the first time in 30 years, as the Hokies handed Oklahoma State its first loss of the season on Saturday. Green scored a career-high 28 points, including the first 10 of the second half.
He’s the first Hokies player to score 20 in seven straight games to start the season since Bimbo Coles did it in nine straight in 1989-90. Green currently ranks third in the nation at 24.9 points per game.
Stat Sheet Stuffer – Alan Williams, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
Williams did his best Michael Olowokandi impersonation, posting career highs with 29 points and 17 rebounds, as the Gauchos upset Santa Clara 83-80 in overtime on the road.
He’s the first Big West player to reach those totals since Olowokandi in 1998. Williams’ 17 rebounds are the most by a UCSB player since Josh Merrill’s 18 in 1996.
Freshman of the Weekend – Semaj Christon, Xavier Musketeers
Playing in his sixth career game, Christon walked into Mackey Arena and scored a career-high 25 points, as Xavier beat Purdue 63-57. It’s the most points for a Xavier freshman since Stanley Burrell in 2004-05.
Bench Star – Desmond Simmons, Washington Huskies
Simmons came off the bench to score 14 points and haul in 18 rebounds (both career highs), as Washington eked by Cal State Fullerton 74-72. It was the most rebounds for a Husky since Jon Brockman in 2009, and the most off the bench for any Pac-12 player in at least the past 15 years.
Ignoring Senior Nights where starters briefly sat, the last major-conference player with at least 14 points and 18 rebounds off the bench was South Carolina’s Tony Kitchings in 2001.
Ugly Stat Line of the Weekend – Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky shot just 29.6 percent in its 64-55 loss to Baylor on Saturday. That’s the Wildcats’ lowest field-goal percentage in over six years (2006 at Kansas). Kentucky’s 0.73 points per possession were its fewest since a 2008 game against Vanderbilt.
Kyle Wiltjer (1-for-11) had the worst shooting game by a Wildcat with at least 11 attempts since Gerald Fitch went 1-for-13 in 2004. Nerlens Noel (3-for-14) had more misses on Saturday than Anthony Davis had in his first six games combined last season.
Baylor has outscored its opponents by 20 second-chance points, the most of any team in the 2012 Men’s Basketball Championship. The Bears entered the tournament averaging 12.4 second-chance points (third in Big 12), but allowed a Big 12-worst 11.4 second-chance points per game.
Xavier outscored Lehigh 15-6 in the final five minutes of the game and 17-6 in the last five minutes of the first half. During those two runs, the Musketeers shot 75 percent. The Mountain Hawks shot 21.1 percent in that span. Baylor has outscored its opponents by 13 points and is allowing 29.6 percent shooting during the final five minute of halves during the tournament.
Kenny Frease scored 22 points in the paint in Xavier’s win over Lehigh, tied for the most paint points in a game in this year’s tournament. (Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas had 22 against Loyola-MD).
Xavier’s tournament opponents are shooting 26.9 percent outside the paint (T-19th in field), including 2-12 in the final five minutes.
Baylor is 23-1 when shooting at least 33 percent on 3-pointers this season (13-0 when making at least eight threes), but 6-6 when shooting below 33 percent. The Bears only have two players who make at least one 3-pointer per game: Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip, both of whom shoot better than 40 percent beyond the arc.
All 14 of Heslip’s field goals in the tournament have been catch-and-shoot threes. He’s 0-for-3 off the dribble and 14-for-20 when shooting without a dribble. Heslip has scored 44 points in the tournament -- 42 on 3-pointers, the most points outside the paint by any player in the field.
(4) Indiana vs (1) Kentucky, Friday 9:45 ET
Due to foul trouble, Anthony Davis played just 24 minutes in Kentucky's 73-72 loss to Indiana on Dec. 10. Kentucky was not the same without Davis, outscored by 12 points in the 16 minutes that he sat.
Davis leads the nation with 166 blocked shots this season. More than 82 percent (137 of 166) of Davis’ blocks have come in the paint, but he has also blocked 14 3-point attempts.
Indiana is shooting 43.7 percent on 3-pointers this season, the second-highest in the country behind Northern Colorado. The Hoosiers are 10-0 when shooting better than 50 percent beyond the arc.
Their primary 3-point threats (Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Matt Roth) each make more than 44 percent of their 3-pointers.
Kentucky outscored Indiana, 50-24, in the paint on Dec. 10, but the Hoosiers have matched Kentucky point-for-point in the paint through two games of the tournament.
Kentucky leads the 2012 Men’s Basketball Championship with 46 transition points, scoring 69.5 percent of these points off missed shots.
In transition, Kentucky has five made 3-pointers, committed no turnovers and racked up 14 assists, all of which lead the tournament. Indiana has allowed 8.5 transition points per game in the tournament (T-31st most).
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesCincinnati is heading to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001, one of four Ohio teams still alive in the NCAA tournament.
It's the first time in NCAA tournament history that four schools from a single state have advanced to the Sweet 16 in the same season.
(6) Cincinnati 62, (3) Florida State 56
The Bearcats will be making their sixth Sweet 16 appearance and first since 2001. Cincinnati went on a 12-6 run over the final minute and a half of the game, which began with a Dion Dixon steal and dunk.
Sean Kilpatrick led the Bearcats with 18 points and Cincinnati recorded 13 steals to just five for Florida State. Florida State fails to reach consecutive Sweet 16s for the first time since 1992-93.
Cincinnati now takes on No. 2 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 Thursday. These schools met twice for the National Championship in 1961 and 1962 with the Bearcats winning both times.
(10) Xavier 70, (15) Lehigh 58
Another team from Cincinnati, Xavier, will be making its sixth Sweet 16 appearance as well. Kenny Frease scored a career-high 25 points shooting 84.6 percent (11-13) from the floor and also grabbed 12 rebounds. He's the first player to record those numbers in a NCAA tournament game since Blake Griffin in 2009.
Lehigh which scored 19 points in transition versus Duke on Friday scored just seven against Xavier. The Mountain Hawks entered the tournament averaging nearly 16 points per game in transition, which ranked in the top 25. Lehigh's loss brings No. 15 seeds to 0-6 all-time in the Round of 32.
Xavier next takes on No. 3 seed Baylor on Friday.
(2) Kansas 63, (10) Purdue 60
After a late scare, Kansas is headed to its 19th Sweet 16 and fifth in its past six seasons. Thomas Robinson scored 11 points and 13 rebounds for his 25th double-double of the season, which ties Drew Gooden's school record in 2002. The Jayhawks scored 17 points in transition including their final six points.
Robbie Hummel ends his Boilermakers career scoring a team-high 26 points as Purdue loses in the Round of 32 for the second straight year.
Kansas faces No. 11 seed North Carolina State on Friday hoping to advance to the Elite Eight for the second straight season. The Wolfpack have not been to the Regional Finals since 1986.
Through the Round of 32, no games in this year's Men's Basketball Championship have gone to overtime. It's the first time since seeding began in 1979 that there hasn't been a single overtime game in the Round of 64 and Round of 32.
(2) Kentucky at Tennessee, Noon ET
Key stat: In its first two conference games of the season, Kentucky has shot 50 percent against zone defenses and 39 percent against man-to-man. That’s noteworthy, because the Wildcats have faced zone defenses on about 60 percent of their offensive possessions in those two games.
(3) North Carolina at Florida State, 2 p.m. ET
Key stat: Though Florida State allows 87.1 points per 100 possessions on defense (13th in the nation), it has trouble on the offensive end.
The Seminoles turn the ball over on 26 percent of their possessions, worst in the ACC and 11th worst in the country.
Oklahoma State at (4) Baylor, 3 p.m. ET
Key stat: Baylor is averaging 9 steals per game, and 21 points per game off turnovers (best in the Big 12). That’s helped by Perry Jones III, who is 9-for-9 on transition 2-point field goal attempts this season.
Teams on the rise
• Murray State ranks 10th in the nation in transition points with 307. In three games against teams currently in the RPI’s top 50, the Racers shot 77 percent and averaged 23 points per game in transition.
• UNLV is averaging 113.9 points per 100 possessions this season, 15th most in the country. The Runnin' Rebels get assists on 65 percent of their baskets, 11th-best in the nation.
Teams that are flailing
• Pittsburgh averages just 56.1 points per game with its FIRST-chance on a possession this season, which is fourth worst in the Big East and ranks 52nd out of 74 Big Six conference teams.
• Opponents are shooting nearly 60 percent in transition against Xavier in the Musketeers’ last eight games; opponents were shooting 47 percent in transition in Xavier’s first eight games.
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
Among the topics Rece Davis, Digger Phelps, Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis plan to tackle:
Is Doug McDermott the new Jimmer Fredette?
McDermott entered Friday averaging 24.5 points per game, which ranks second in the nation. He’s made the most field goals in Division 1 (158) and is shooting over 60 percent from the field this season.
McDermott has scored 30 percent of Creighton’s points this season and takes 36 percent of the team’s shots while he’s on the floor, comparable to Fredette, whose rates were 36 percent and 38 percent.
Creighton has played three games against Big Six conference opponents this season (all wins).
In those games, McDermott shot 66 percent from the field. In four games against Big Six foes, Fredette struggled, especially in the half court. McDermott made two-thirds of his shots in half court, and averaged 1.28 points per play. Fredette only made 42 percent and averaged 0.95 points per play.
The big difference in their games is in trips to the free-throw line. McDermott is just 15th in the Missouri Valley Conference and 402nd in the nation in free throws made. Fredette ended the 2010-11 season ranked first in the nation in that stat.
Baylor Bears (8-0)
Baylor travels to Provo, UT where it will face a BYU Cougars team that has only lost five games at home since 2005-06. During that span, the Bears are 48-2 in non-conference home games, but lost their only such game against a ranked foe in 2009 vs Wake Forest.
Illinois Fighting Illini (10-0)
Saturday at the United Center, Illinois and the UNLV Runnin' Rebels will face off in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament Round of 64 game won by the Illini. Illinois is 10-0 for the first time since starting 15-0 in the 2005-06 season.
Indiana Hoosiers (9-0)
The last time Indiana faced the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Irish won 88-50 at the 2008 Maui Classic in Hawaii. This will be the first meeting between the two in-state rivals in Indianapolis since 1959. On Saturday, the Hoosiers look to improve to 10-0 for the first time since 1989-90.
Louisville Cardinals (9-0)
Louisville takes on an unranked Memphis Tigers team that is just 5-3 and has failed to live up to expectations as the ninth-ranked team in the preseason poll. This will be the 86th meeting between these former C-USA, Metro Conference and MVC rivals. Louisville holds a 51-34 edge including 30-11 at home.
Marquette Golden Eagles (9-0)
Marquette is off to its best start since the 2004-05 season and is looking to start a season with 10 straight wins for just the sixth time in school history. The Golden Eagles host the Northern Colorado Bears in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Missouri Tigers (10-0)
The Tigers improved to 10-0 with a 104-67 win over the Kennesaw State Owls on Thursday night. This is their best start since they opened the 1991-92 season with 11 straight wins. They host the William & Mary Tribe on Sunday.
Murray State Racers (11-0)
Murray State became the first team to 11-0 with an 89-65 win over Lipscomb on Thursday night. The Racers are off to their best start since 1950-51, and the fourth-best start in school history. They host the Arkansas State Red Wolves Saturday.
Syracuse Orange (10-0)
Syracuse heads to Raleigh, NC to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack for its first true road game against a non-conference opponent since facing Memphis in December 2008. NC State is 5-25 all-time against the AP No. 1. Only 11 schools have more such wins.
Xavier Musketeers (8-0)
The Musketeers play their first game since the brawl with the Cincinnati Bearcats last weekend. Xavier, which hosts the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles on Sunday, has won 14 straight and 44 of its last 45 games at the Cintas Center.