Stats & Info: College Hoops

Scoring and fouls per game increase

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11

Getty Images, AP PhotoCoaches didn't always agree with referees interpreting block-charge calls differently.
Much was made this past off-season about the focus to increase scoring in college basketball.

Referees were instructed to interpret block-charge calls differently, while cracking down on defensive hand-checking. The theory went that this would help increase scoring after a season that saw the lowest nation-wide scoring average since 1981-82.

So how did it work out?

Scoring up, possessions down
Scoring increased by more than five percent this season compared to last, despite the fact that teams averaged about one fewer possession per game.

One of the reasons for the rise in scoring could be the increased trips to the charity stripe.

Free throw attempts per game increased by nearly 14 percent this season compared to last.

Overall the percentage of points from field goals decreased by 2.3 percentage points compared to last season, while scoring from free throws increased by nearly nine percentage points.

Tourney time
The NCAA Tournament was a bit different, however. Scoring during the tournament was down by more than six percent compared to November and December of this season.

During the tournament, teams averaged 3.5 fewer free throw attempts per game than during the first two months of the season.

But when comparing this season's NCAA Tournament to last year, the trend was consistent with the regular season.

Scoring during the tournament this season was up nearly four percent compared to last season. Again, this occurred despite the fact that teams averaged more than two fewer possessions per game.

Top stats to know: Another title for UConn

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8

Shabazz Napier made big shots every time Connecticut needed them.
The unlikeliest champions of them all are the Connecticut Huskies, the first No. 7 seed to win a men’s basketball championship.

Connecticut always seems to find a way, and once again on Monday night it did, led by the best player on the floor in point guard Shabazz Napier.

The history
Connecticut has won four national titles, tied with Duke for fifth most all-time (trails UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina and Indiana).

Connecticut is 4-0 all-time in national championship games, the best undefeated record for any school. Connecticut’s four-game national championship winning streak is tied for third longest in NCAA tournament history.

The Huskies are also now 6-0 in Final Four games in the state of Texas.

Kevin Ollie is the 12th coach to win a national championship at his alma mater (the first since Roy Williams in 2005 and 2009).

Ollie is the first coach to win a national championship within his first two seasons as a Division I head coach since Michigan's Steve Fisher in 1989.

Connecticut is the first team to win the national championship without winning its regular season or conference tournament title since Arizona in 1997 and the first team to win the title despite not playing in any postseason tournament the previous season since NC State in 1974.

Most Outstanding Player: Shabazz Napier
Napier finished with 22 points. He scored 37 percent of the Huskies’ points for the game, the third-highest percentage by a player in a national championship win in the past 30 seasons (surpassed only by Glen Rice in 1989 and Danny Manning in 1988).

Napier put himself in elite college basketball company, as noted in the chart above.

Difference-Maker: Free Throw Shooting
Connecticut became the first team to shoot 100 percent from the free throw line in a national championship game, making all 10 of its foul shots.

Kentucky was 13-for-24 from the free throw line. It was a situation reminiscent of Memphis’ struggles at the free throw line in the 2008 championship game under John Calipari, when it made 12 of 19 foul shots in a loss to Kansas.

Connecticut finished 101-115 (87.8 percent) on free throws for the tournament, the best free throw percentage by a team in a single NCAA tournament (minimum three games).

The previous record was 87 percent by St. John's in 1969.

The other side
This was Kentucky's fourth loss in a national championship game (tied with Ohio State and North Carolina for fourth most all-time, including vacated games) and its first title game loss since 1997 (versus Arizona).

Kentucky’s past two NCAA tournament losses have come against Connecticut (2011 Final Four, 2014 national championship).

Indicative of how this wasn't Kentucky's night-- the Wildcats had only 26 attempts in the paint. They averaged 43 in their past two games.

Kentucky had a tournament-low 24 paint points and tied its tournament lows in second-chance points (7) and points off turnovers (10).

Kentucky averaged 0.871 points per possession, its second-worst offensive efficiency of the season (0.870 vs. Arkansas on Feb. 27).

Top stats to know: UConn vs. Kentucky

April, 7, 2014
Apr 7
The seven-seed Connecticut Huskies and eight-seed Kentucky Wildcats are set to meet in the men’s basketball National Championship Monday. It’s the highest combined seeds ever in a National Championship.

UConn is trying to become the first seven seed to win the National Championship and the only team to be 4-0 in National Championship games. Kentucky is trying to become the second eight seed to win it, matching 1985 Villanova as the lowest seed to win the title.

Here are some of the top statistical storylines heading into Monday night's National Championship.

Performing in the clutch
Kentucky is plus-21 in the NCAA Tournament when the score is within three points in the final three minutes, after being minus-16 in that situation during the regular season.

Kentucky is shooting 60 percent on field goals, including 5-of-6 on 3-pointers, when the score is within three points in the final three minutes in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats shot 29 percent on field goals in those situations in the regular season.

The Wildcats are holding opponents to 25 percent field goals, including 0-for-8 on 3-pointers, in those situations in the NCAA Tournament.

The Harrisons
Led by Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Kentucky could be the first team to play seven freshmen in a National Championship game.

Kentucky is plus-34 in the NCAA Tournament when the Harrison twins are both on the court together, and minus-16 when at least one of them is on the bench.

Aaron Harrison is shooting 56 percent on 3-pointers in the NCAA Tournament after shooting 31 percent on 3-pointers in the regular season.

The Tweak
Kentucky's offense has improved since John Calipari's "tweak" entering the SEC Tournament. Since then, Kentucky is averaging three more points per 100 possessions, shooting 10 percentage points better on 3-pointers, and playing at a slower pace -- six fewer possessions per game.

The difference is even more drastic in the last four games -- 12 more points per 100 possessions, 12 percentage points better on 3-pointers, seven fewer possessions per game, compared to the first 35 games.

53 percent of Kentucky's points have been in the paint over the last four games, compared to 46 percent in its first 35 games.

UConn is shooting 60 percent on pick-and-roll ball-handler plays in the NCAA Tournament (pick-and-rolls in which the guard makes a play).

UConn is the most efficient team on pick-and-roll ball-handler plays among teams that have played at least three games in the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies are averaging 11.2 points per game on pick-and-roll plays (18 percent of their half-court offense) in the NCAA Tournament.

Kentucky ranks 55th of 68 teams in points per play allowed on pick-and-roll ball-handler plays in the NCAA Tournament.

Shabazz Napier is shooting 56 percent on pick-and-roll plays in the NCAA Tournament and is creating 13.4 points per game (including passes) on such plays.

A battle down low
Kentucky is scoring 37 points per game in the paint, which makes up 52 percent of the points it has scored, in the NCAA Tournament.

UConn is allowing 24 points per game in the paint, which makes up 36 percent of the points it has allowed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats rank second in offensive rebound percentage this season, grabbing 42 percent of their missed shots, whereas UConn ranks 206th in offensive rebound percentage (30.5 percent).

The Huskies rank 247th in defensive rebound percentage (67 percent) this season.

Top stats to know: Final Four games

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
The Final Four is finally here, and to get you ready we have broken down the key matchups in each of Saturday’s games.

Florida Gators vs Connecticut Huskies
You can expect a low-scoring, low-possession game, as both these teams rank in the top 10 adjusted defensive efficiency and are in the bottom third in adjusted tempo, according to

Both teams have played well against slower teams, too, with UConn going 10-1 this season against teams that rank outside the top 200 in adjusted tempo and Florida winning 17 of 19 games against those teams.

One key in this game is how UConn will handle Florida’s press defense. Florida utilizes a press defense on 17 percent of its defensive plays, and holds opponents to 38 percent shooting against its press.

The Huskies have been able to score efficiently against the press this season, leading the American Athletic Conference with 46 percent shooting in those situations.

Another important matchup is how Florida will defend All-American Shabazz Napier. Nearly a third of Napier’s plays this season have involved a ball screen, and his 210 points scored as the pick and roll ball handler this season rank fourth in Division I.

Against Michigan State in the Elite 8, Napier either scored or went to the line on all four of his pick and roll plays, totaling nine points including free throws.

Both Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill have struggled to defend the pick and roll. Opponents have made 46 percent of their shots when defended by either Wilbekin or Hill, scoring nearly a point per play as the ball handler on these screens.

Wisconsin Badgers vs Kentucky Wildcats
Much has been written about the mystery “tweak” that John Calipari made just before the SEC tournament. No one knows for sure what that cryptic remark means, but what is real is the fact that Kentucky’s perimeter shooting is much improved.

Since the start of the SEC tournament, the Wildcats have made 41.2 percent of their 3-pointers, nearly 10 percentage points better than their performance during the regular season.

Aaron Harrison has found his range in the NCAAs for Kentucky, making 14 of 27 long-distance shots, after entering the tourney as a 33 percent 3-point shooter.

Wisconsin held opponents to 33 percent on 3-point attempts in its first 30 games but is allowing opponents to shoot 38 percent on 3-pointers in its last seven games.

Perhaps the most important matchup in this game will be the ability of Wisconsin to keep Kentucky off the offensive glass. Kentucky ranks first in the country in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing 42.5 percent of its missed shots.

Wisconsin counters with a defensive rebound percentage that ranks 12th in the country, and is 8-1 this season against teams ranked in the top 50 in offensive rebound percentage.

One other stat to keep in mind: Wisconsin and Kentucky both have faced Florida, Baylor, Michigan and Michigan State this season. Wisconsin is 4-2 against those teams, while Kentucky is 1-5 against those teams.

Katie Sharp contributed to this post

Keys to victory: Kentucky 75, Michigan 72

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
Kentucky made it two low seeds in the national semifinals by beating Michigan, 75-72 on Sunday.

The Wildcats became the fifth No. 8 seed to make the Final Four since the tournament expanded in 1985. The only No. 8 to win a national title was Villanova in 1985.

Kentucky joined Connecticut as teams that beat three top-4 seeds to get to the Final Four. Prior to this year, only three teams had ever done that: 1986 LSU, 2000 Florida and 2011 Butler.

The key to victory for Kentucky was the performance of its freshmen. Aaron Harrison made the big shot, a game-winning 3-pointer, but that was only part of the story.

Star Watch: Julius Randle leads the freshmen
Kentucky freshman Julius Randle led the Wildcats with 16 points and 11 rebounds. He became the second freshman in NCAA Tournament history to have a double-double in each of his first four games. The other was Gene Banks for Duke in 1978.

Kentucky became the first team to start five freshmen in an Elite 8 win since Michigan's "Fab 5" in 1992.

The Wildcats’ freshmen have scored 254 points, a total that trails only that Michigan team for the most by freshmen through the Elite 8.

Kentucky controls the paint,
limits Michigan outside the paint

Kentucky attempted 43 of its 58 field goal attempts in the paint (74 percent), the second-highest percentage in the 2014 Men’s Basketball Championship and third-highest in the last five.

Michigan scored 25 points outside the paint Sunday, its fewest in 11 tournament games the last three seasons. The Wolverines entered the game averaging a tournament-high 39.3 points per game outside the paint.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day
Kentucky is the first team in tournament history to eliminate both the defending champion and defending runner-up from the NCAA Tournament and the first to eliminate three teams from the previous year's Final Four.

Keys to victory: UConn 60, Michigan St. 54

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
Connecticut is headed back to the Final Four, and once again it will be there in unlikely fashion.

The Huskies are the second No. 7 seed ever to reach the national semifinals. Virginia made it in 1984 and lost to Houston.

What were the keys to the win on Sunday?

Star Watch: Napier reminiscent of Walker
The last two players to lead their team to a Final Four while scoring or assisting on at least 45% of their team’s points in the tournament are Shabazz Napier and Kemba Walker, both from Connecticut.

Napier scored 25 points and was 9 for 9 from the free-throw line. The last player to score that much and shoot that well at the free throw line was Christian Laettner for Duke against Kentucky in the game in which Laettner was perfect from the field and free throw line and hit the buzzer-beating game-winner.

Huskies limit Spartans in the paint
Michigan State scored six points in the paint, 14 fewer than its previous season low and the second fewest for any team in the last five Men’s Basketball Championships (Butler scored two vs Connecticut in 2011).

The Spartans’ eight field-goal attempts in the paint are the fewest for any team in the last five tournaments.

Branden Dawson scored two points in the paint on 1-of-2 shooting. Entering Sunday, he was leading the tournament with 48 points in the paint.

Michigan State’s half-court offense did not have a good day. . In half-court offense, the Spartans had four more turnovers than they had field goals.

Huskies make their free throws
Connecticut was 21 for 22 from the free-throw line, including 7 for 7 in the final five minutes.

For the tournament, the Huskies are 55 for 60 (92 percent) at the free throw line in the final 5 minutes of the second half/overtime.

Connecticut is currently 81-92 (88 percent) from the free throw line in the tournament. The team record for free-throw percentage in a single NCAA tournament (minimum three games) is 87 percent by St. John's in 1969.

Better Fab Five: Michigan or Kentucky?

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
The Kentucky Wildcats are starting to resemble a rather famous group of freshmen that made noise in the NCAA tourney. That’s right, the Fab Five.

The numbers show these two squads are more similar than you would think. Making it even more fitting is Kentucky will face Michigan on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

The question left is if the Wildcats freshmen will be able to finish what those Wolverines couldn’t and win a national title.

Both Kentucky's Fab Five and Michigan's Fab Five started exactly 15 games together as a unit. Kentucky is 11-4 when all five freshmen start (Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, James Young, Julius Randle and Dakari Johnson), while Michigan finished 12-3 when the Fab Five started together.

Kentucky's Fab Five has been slightly more productive and efficient in terms of scoring, largely because of the 3-point line. The Michigan Fab Five was more dominant on the boards and shot a much better percentage from the floor.

Wildcats power forward Randle has comparable numbers to Chris Webber’s freshman season. Both were top-three recruits and averaged roughly 15 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting over 50 percent from the floor during their first seasons.

The similarities don't end with just the players. The teams as a whole are near-mirror images in the tournament:

• Both Kentucky this year and Michigan in 1992 were underdogs according to seeding, with the Wildcats an 8-seed and the Wolverines a 6-seed. Kentucky entered the tourney with 10 losses; Michigan entered with eight losses.

• Both teams had to beat a No. 1 seed during their run. Kentucky took out undefeated Wichita State in the round of 32; Michigan beat an Ohio State team that had swept it in the regular season.

• Not only did they have to beat top seeds, Michigan and Kentucky also had to beat their rivals. The Wolverines beat hated Ohio State and Kentucky defeated Louisville for the second time this season.

• Michigan and Kentucky both were not dominant in the tournament. The 1992 Wolverines won their first five games by an average of six points per game, with just one double-digit win. The Wildcats have outscored their first three opponents by 4.7 points per game, and their largest win was by seven points.

Katie Sharp contributed to this post.

Top stats to know: Sunday's Elite 8 games

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
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.

Top stats to know: Gators reach Final Four

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
The Florida seniors have finally gotten over the hump, advancing to the Final Four after three straight losses in the Elite Eight round. The Gators will play in the national semifinals for the first time since 2007, which was the second of their back-to-back national titles.

With the victory, Florida also extended its win streak to 30 games, matching Auburn (1957-59) for the second-longest win streak by an SEC team. The only longer streak was when Kentucky won 32 games in a row in 1954-55.

So how did the Gators get to this point, as the hottest team in the country and just two wins away from its third national championship?

Keys to victory
Patric Young was a key part of Florida's dominance on offense and defense. The Gators outscored Dayton by 20 points in 31 minutes with Young on the court. Young scored 10 points in the paint, two fewer than the Flyers had as a team when he was on the floor.

Florida's press defense disrupted Dayton’s offense all game. The Flyers were held to 18 percent shooting from the field on possessions that started with a full-court press, compared to 51 percent on all other possessions.

Florida outscored Dayton 13-1 on second-chance points, including 5-0 in the second half. The Flyers did not have an offensive rebound after halftime. Late in the second half, the Gators had back-to-back possessions that lasted over a minute, grabbing six offensive rebounds in those two possessions.

Looking ahead
To win the title, the Gators will have to reverse a few trends. No team has entered the tournament averaging fewer than 72 points per game and gone on to win the national championship since the tourney expanded in 1985. The Gators' scoring average was 70.7 points per game two weeks ago.

Florida is the 12th team to go undefeated in conference play, win its conference tournament and then receive a No. 1 seed. None of the previous 11 went on to win the title, including Wichita State Shockers this year.

Florida is the fourth team since seeding began in 1979 to be riding a 30-game win streak entering the Final Four. None of the previous three teams went on to win the title.

However, the Gators do have some history on their side. The only other time they were a No. 1 seed was in 2007, which ended with the team hoisting the national championship trophy in Atlanta.

Florida won its Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games by double digits. Five of the past six teams to win each of those four games by double digits went on to win the national championship.

The Gators also entered the tournament as one of five teams ranked in the top 25 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency (17th) and adjusted defensive efficiency (5th). The past 11 national title winners have all been ranked in the top 25 in both categories.

Top stats to know: Saturday's Elite 8 games

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
The Elite 8 gets underway this evening with two games. Here are some of the statistical storylines we’ll be following.

11 Dayton vs 1 Florida
If Dayton is going to advance to its second Final Four in school history (1967), the Flyers will have to find a way to score against a stout Florida defense. The Gators rank ninth in the country in defensive efficiency and have held 10 straight opponents below their season average in offensive efficiency.

The Flyers are 18-0 this season when they’re above their average in offensive efficiency compared to 8-10 when they’re below their average in that category.

The Flyers will also need to find a way to shut down the Gators offense. In Florida's five least efficient offensive performances this season, the Gators went 3-2. It was their only two losses of the season (at Wisconsin, at Connecticut).

The Flyers have held their three NCAA Tournament opponents -- Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford -- to an average of 14.1 points per 100 possessions below their average offensive efficiency.

Dayton is shooting 39 percent on 3-pointers in its last eight games, making seven 3-pointers per game during that span. Florida is holding opponents to 20 percent shooting on 3-point attempts over its last six games (since the start of the SEC Tournament). The Gators haven't allowed more than four 3-pointers made in any of their last eight games.

Dayton is averaging 16.7 transition points per game in its three NCAA Tournament games, including 20 against Ohio State and 21 against Stanford. Florida only allows 9.4 transition points per game this season, but allowed 24 against UCLA in the Sweet 16.

2 Wisconsin vs 1 Arizona
Offensive and defensive juggernauts collide when Wisconsin and Arizona meet tonight. Wisconsin ranks 11th in offensive efficiency, averaging 115.9 points per 100 possessions. Arizona is third in the country in defensive efficiency, allowing 89.9 points per 100 possessions.

The Badgers have played four games this season against teams ranked in the top 10 in defensive efficiency, going 3-1 in those games (lost to Ohio State; defeated Florida, Saint Louis and Virginia).

The Wildcats have held opponents below their season average in offensive efficiency in 36 of 37 games this season. In its last six games, Arizona has held its opponents to 18.6 points per 100 possessions below their season average in offensive efficiency.

If there’s one area to focus on, it might be the 3-point line. Wisconsin is shooting 41 percent on 3-pointers in its last six games and Arizona's defense has been susceptible to 3-point shooting, allowing opponents to shoot 39 percent on 3-pointers in its last nine games.

Switching the tables, Wisconsin will be challenged by an Arizona team that has been hot on the offensive end lately. The Wildcats are averaging 19.1 more points per 100 possessions than their opponents' season average over the last six games.

Arizona has lost each of its three least-efficient offensive performances this season. In their eight least-efficient offensive performances, the Wildcats are just 4-4 with each win coming by five or fewer points.

Top stats to know: Friday's Sweet 16

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
The Sweet 16 continues tonight with four games. Here are some of the statistical storylines we’ll be following.

(11) Tennessee vs (2) Michigan
The Wolverines are trying to reach a second straight Elite 8 (lost in title game last year to Louisville). Tennessee has been to just one Elite 8 in its history, when it lost to Michigan State in 2010.

Michigan's hot outside shooting has carried the team in its first two wins. The Wolverines are 21 of 45 from beyond the arc and have made 50 percent of their jump shots, second-best among tournament teams.

Over its last nine games (during which it has gone 8-1) Tennessee has held its opponents to just 26.6 percent shooting on 3-pointers and 27 percent on jump shots.

(8) Kentucky vs (4) Louisville
Get ready for another epic showdown of these Bluegrass state rivals. This is the fourth time in NCAA Tournament history that the previous two national champions will play against each other in the NCAA Tournament.

In each of the three previous occurrences, the defending champion has defeated champion from the previous season.

There will be two key matchups to watch in this game.

The first one is on the offensive glass. The Wildcats rank second in the country in offensive rebound percentage and average 15.6 second-chance points per game, the best among major conferences.

Louisville is not a great defensive rebounding team, ranking 241st in the nation, and was outscored 17-6 in second-chance points by Kentucky in their meeting on Dec. 28.

The other key matchup is whether Kentucky can handle Louisville's pressure defense, which forces 17.4 turnovers per game, the second-most in the country. Louisville is 19-0 this season when forcing 17 or more turnovers; Kentucky is 16-2 when committing 11 or fewer turnovers.

(7) Connecticut vs (3) Iowa State
The only other time these two teams met in the NCAA Tournament was in a Round of 64 win by the Cyclones in 2012. That was Jim Calhoun's final game.

With Georges Niang out for Iowa State and Connecticut lacking a dominant post offense, this game could come down to who executes better on the perimeter.

Iowa State ranks in the top 25 in 3-point attempts per game and 3-pointers made per game this season, while UConn ranks 22nd in the country in 3-point field goal percentage.

Both teams allow their opponents to make more than a third of their shots from beyond the arc, though the Huskies do a better job of limiting 3-point attempts (18.3 per game) than the Cyclones (21.2).

(4) Michigan State vs (1) Virginia
Virginia is hoping to avoid the fate of another recent first-place ACC squad. Last year Miami was the regular-season and postseason ACC champs, and they lost in the Sweet 16 vs Marquette.

The Michigan State seniors are trying to avoid making history as well. Every four-year player under coach Tom Izzo has reached the Final Four, and this is the last chance for Adreian Payne and Keith Appling to make it.

The key matchup to watch in this game will be whether Virginia can slow down the Spartans' fastbreak offense.

Transition makes up 21.9 percent of Michigan State’s offensive plays, the eighth-highest rate in the country, and the Spartans average 18.9 transition points per game, 14th-most in the nation. Virginia allows 7.4 transition points per game, third-fewest in the nation, and only 10.9 percent of Virginia’s defensive plays are transition, the fifth-lowest rate in the country.

Top stats to know: Thursday's Sweet 16

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
The Sweet 16 tips off today with four games. Here are some of the statistical storylines we’ll be following tonight.

(6) Baylor vs. (2) Wisconsin
Both teams can score a lot of points, so this game could come down to which team defends better.

Against elite offenses, Baylor appears to have the more efficient defense: Baylor has allowed 105.1 points per 100 possessions in four games against teams ranked in the top 25 in defensive efficiency; Wisconsin has allowed 109.7 points per 100 possessions in eight games against those same teams.

Matchup to watch: Baylor plays zone on 57 percent of its defensive plays. Wisconsin has the most efficient zone offense in the country, averaging 1.20 points per play.

(11) Dayton vs. (10) Stanford
Dayton-Stanford is the second 10 vs 11-seed matchup ever. The other was in 2011 when 11-seed VCU beat 10-seed Florida State, 72-71.

Both of these teams dominated defensively against their first two opponents, allowing fewer than 60 points in each game.

The Flyers defensive strength has been on the perimeter, holding their opponents to a tournament-best 15 percent shooting outside the paint. Stanford, on the other hand, has shut down its opponents inside. Kansas shot just 38 percent around the basket in the Cardinal's upset win.

With its dominant defense down low, the key to beating Stanford is by making outside shots. Stanford is 5-9 this season when its opponents shoot at least 36 percent on 3-pointers. The Cardinal are 17-3 when their opponents shoot less than 36 percent on 3-pointers.

Dayton is shooting 40.3 percent on 3-pointers in its last seven games.

(4) UCLA vs. (1) Florida
This should be a familiar matchup for fans of both teams. Florida is 3-0 all-time in tournament games against UCLA, with all three meetings occurring in the last eight seasons.

The matchup to watch in this game is UCLA’s transition offense vs Florida’s transition defense.

The Bruins score a Pac-12 best 19.7 points per game and shoot 57 percent in transition. Florida’s defense allows only 9.0 transition points per game, fewest in the SEC, and holds opponents to 43 percent shooting on the break.

(4) San Diego State vs. (1) Arizona
Three times a charm, right? This is the third time that Arizona is a 1-seed in a regional in Anaheim. The Wildcats won their Sweet 16 game here in 1998 and 2003, but lost in the Elite 8 both years.

The first to 50 points might win this game. San Diego State and Arizona rank first and third, respectively, in fewest points per 100 possessions allowed in the nation.

San Diego State excels with its press defense. The Aztecs have the fourth-most efficient press defense of any team that presses on at least 10 plays per game. Arizona ranks 29th in the country in points per play against press defense.

Arizona has been at its been defending the interior, holding its first two opponents to a tournament-best 32 percent shooting around the basket. San Diego State has attempted a total of just eight shots around the basket in its first two games, the second-fewest of any team.

Top 10 biggest upsets of this year's tourney

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
March Madness certainly lived up to its name during this first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, with exciting finishes and surprising winners. We rank the 10 biggest upsets according BPI pre-game win probability, starting with number 10...

10. Harvard (41.0% chance to win) over Cincinnati
Harvard picked up an NCAA tournament win for the second straight season with its win over the fifth-seed Bearcats. The Crimson are the first Ivy League team to win an NCAA Tournament game in back-to-back seasons since Princeton in 1983-84.

9. Kentucky (40.5%) over Wichita State
Kentucky ended Wichita State’s perfect season, handing the Shockers their first loss in 36 games. Did you know: the previous two teams that were unbeaten entering NCAA Tournament were eliminated by the eventual national champion (1979 Indiana State by Michigan State; 1991 UNLV by Duke).

8. Baylor (34.6%) over Creighton
Baylor routed Creighton by 30 points, the third-largest margin of victory by a 6 seed in NCAA Tournament history. The Bluejays, who got just 15 points from Doug McDermott in his final collegiate game, fell to 0-8 all-time in Round of 32 games, the worst record by any team.

7. Connecticut (33.6%) over Villanova
Connecticut advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2011, which is also the last time the Huskies won the National Championship. After early foul trouble, Shabazz Napier led the Huskies down the stretch, scoring 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half.

6. Dayton (30.6%) over Ohio State
Dayton started the Madness with the upset win over Ohio State on Thursday afternoon, in a game that featured eight ties and 15 lead changes. The Flyers scored 20 transition points against an Ohio State team that had allowed a Big Ten-best 10.1 transition points per game this season.

5. North Dakota State (30.4%) over Oklahoma
North Dakota State earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament win, shooting 52.9 percent from the field. North Dakota State outscored Oklahoma by 22 points in the paint, including 6-0 in overtime.

4. Dayton (28.1%) over Syracuse
Dayton advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 1984 with an upset of the third-seeded Orange. Syracuse made 1 of 19 shots from outside the paint, while Dayton made nearly half its shots from outside the paint.

3. Stanford (24.8%) over Kansas
Stanford reached its first Sweet 16 since 2008, holding Kansas to just 28 percent shooting against its zone defense. The Jayhawks entered the game shooting a Big 12-best 47.8 percent against zone defenses.

2. Stephen F. Austin (21.7%) over VCU
Stephen F. Austin extended its win streak to 29 games in the win, notching its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory in its second appearance. The Lumberjacks turned the ball over just once in overtime against VCU’s “Havoc” defense.

1. Mercer (12.6%) over Duke
Mercer outscored Duke by 16 points in the paint, holding the Blue Devils to a season-low 10 paint points. Duke became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to have five losses to double-digit seeds as a top-3 seed.

Keys to victory: Stanford 60, Kansas 57

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
Another basketball power with a star freshman was upset, with Kansas falling to Stanford in the Round of 32.

This was one of those games in which the pictures tell the story.
Wiggins couldn't close
Andrew Wiggins was basically a non factor in this game for Kansas, making only 1 of 6 shots from the field. He had averaged 28 points on 51 percent shooting in his previous four games.

Wiggins averaged 10 paint points in the six games in which Joel Embiid didn't play prior to Sunday, but did not have any points in the paint against Stanford.

Andrew Wiggins didn't get many chances to score on Sunday.

Andrew Wiggins' point total dropped in each game after his 41-point game agianst West Virginia.

The zone worked
Kansas shot 28 percent (8 for 29) when Stanford played zone, including 19 percent (3 for 16) in the first half. The Jayhawks entered the game shooting 48 percent against zone defenses, best in the Big 12 and 21st in the nation.

Wiggins and Perry Ellis were a combined 1 for 8 against the Cardinal’s zone.

Jayhawks couldn't score from inside
Kansas went 10 for 31 in the paint (32 percent). Entering the game, the Jayhawks were shooting 62 percent in the paint for the season.

Kansas averaged 13.7 dunks and layups per game entering the day. It had only six on Sunday.

57 points tie Kansas' fewest in a game this season (61-57 loss to San Diego State on Jan. 5).

Did You Know?
Stanford survived going 0 for 9 from 3-point range to pull out the win. They're only the second team to go 0 for 9 from 3 in an NCAA Tournament win, joining Connecticut, which did so in a win over Gonzaga in 1999. No team has fared worse and won an NCAA Tournament game.

Syracuse shooting woes equal upset loss

March, 22, 2014
Mar 22

ESPN Stats & InfoSyracuse made just one field goal outside the paint in its loss to Dayton.
The slipper still fits for Dayton as the Flyers upset third-seeded Syracuse 55-53 to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984.

Dayton is the sixth double-digit seeded team to win its Round of 64 and Round of 32 games by two points or fewer. That's the good news. The bad news is that the previous five teams each lost their next game in the Sweet 16.

With the win, Atlantic 10 teams are now 5-5 vs the ACC in the NCAA Tournament since 2001, including wins in both meetings this year. Before that, the ACC was 12-0 against the A-10, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

What went wrong for Syracuse
For Syracuse, its another early exit in the Big Dance. The Orange now have six losses to teams seeded 11th or lower, matching UCLA and Oklahoma for the most in NCAA Tournament history.

Jim Boeheim has been at the helm for all six losses, becoming the first coach in NCAA Tournament history to lose six games against double-digit seeds.

The Orange struggled with their perimeter shooting, going 0 of 10 from beyond the arc. That is the most missed 3-pointers without a make in its NCAA Tournament history.

Syracuse dominated down low, scoring 40 of its 53 points in the paint, but made just one field goal – a Jerami Grant jumper in the second half – outside the paint.

Syracuse couldn't take advantage of Dayton's miscues, scoring a season-low six points off 14 Dayton turnovers. The Orange entered the game averaging 16.5 points off turnovers per game, best among ACC teams.

Tyler Ennis nearly brought the Orange back from a five-point deficit with 4 minutes remaining. He drove to the basket on five of the Orange's next seven possessions, scoring 11 straight points to pull Syracuse within one.

However, Ennis took jump shots outside the paint on the Orange's final two possessions, missing both as Syracuse fell victim to another NCAA Tournament upset.