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Final Four 2012: Key Stat for Each Elite 8 Team to Reach New Orleans

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - MARCH 15:  Brady Heslip #5 of the Baylor Bears reacts after making a basket against South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the second half  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Pit on March 15, 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMarch 24, 2012

Eight teams are one win away from the Final Four in New Orleans. They all have tough matchups ahead of them, and there is one key stat they must manage or excel at to advance.

The stat is dictated by their tendency through the season as well as their opponent. Let's start at the top with the nation's top team and tournament's No. 1 overall seed.

 

No. 1 Kentucky vs No. 3 Baylor

 

Kentucky's Key Stat: Rebounding

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Anthony Davis (C) #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats fights for rebound position against Vinny Zollo #41 and Derrick Gordon #5 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament a
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Wildcats must control the boards. In their two losses, they have been out-rebounded 64-56. When they don't control the boards, they can't get out in transition, and they give up second chance threes.

That is a formula for an upset.

 

Baylor's Key Stat: Three-Point Shooting

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09:  Brady Heslip #5 of the Baylor Bears celebrates a three pointer in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the semifinals of the 2012 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 2012 in Kansas Cit
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Bears must take pressure off Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy by shooting well from distance. In losses this season, the Bears are 35-of-102 from three-point range, which is just under 35 percent as a team.

This is why Baylor' sharpshooter Brady Heslip is perhaps the most important player in this game.

To beat Kentucky, they must shoot it well, up near 40 percent.

 

No. 4 Louisville vs No. 7 Florida


Louisville's Key Stat: Forced Turnovers

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07:  Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals attempts to steal the ball away from Jordan Theodore #1 of the Seton Hall Pirates during their second round game of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on M
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Cardinals are on a roll, and much of their recent success comes from forcing turnovers. In their seven-game win streak, they have forced an average of 13 turnovers per game.

They need to be at or above that number to move on to New Orleans.

 

Florida's Key Stat: Opponent's FG percentage

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 18:  Casey Prather #24 of the Florida Gators blocks a shot attempt in the first half by Kyle O'Quinn #10 of the Norfolk State Spartans during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center on March 18,
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Gators have surprised a few people in the tournament. They are the lowest seed still alive, and they've done it with defense.

Opponents have shot under 32 percent from the field against the Gators through three games. If they can hold the Cardinals in that area, they will have a shot to knock them off.

 

No. 1 Syracuse vs No. 2 Ohio State


Syracuse's Key Stat: Opponent's Three-Point Shooting

LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 12: C.J. Fair #5 of the Syracuse Orange defends Mike Marra #33 of the Louisville Cardinals during the Big East Conference game at the KFC Yum! Center on February 12, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  Louisville won 73-69.  (Photo by
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Jim Boeheim said it in the post game interview after the Orange narrowly defeated Wisconsin. This quote was published by ESPN:

I think that was the best game anybody has ever played against us and didn't beat us

Boeheim's main reason for saying that is because of how well the Badgers shot it from three. They connected on 43 percent from distance, and that is usually the key to knocking off the Orange and their 2-3 zone.

In the Orange' two previous losses, Notre Dame shot 50 percent from deep and Cincinnati shot 45 percent. They have to control Ohio State from deep, while giving ample attention to Jared Sullinger.

This will be a tough task.

 

Ohio State's Key Stat: Free Throw Attempts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 13:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes gets set to attempt a free throw against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the championship game of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 1
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

You must challenge the zone with dribble penetration. If you rely only on the three, then you have to blazing hot to beat it. If the Buckeyes can get to the rim, or get Sullinger the ball, they can get to the line.

The more foul trouble they get the 'Cuse bigs in, the deeper Boeheim has to go on the bench. The deeper he goes on the bench, the less efficiently the zone is played.

The Buckeyes need to shoot at least 15 free throws as a team to weaken the zone.

 

No. 1 North Carolina vs No. 2 Kansas


North Carolina's Key Stat: Turnovers

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  D.J. Cooper #5 of the Ohio Bobcats drives in the second half past Stilman White #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Semifinal at Edward Jones Dome on March 23, 2012 in St. L
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Heels have to take care of the ball. This is one of the few games where they won't have a huge advantage inside as Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey can compete with Tyler Zeller and John Henson.

If they are forced to play without injured PG Kendall Marshall, this could be an issue. With Marshall out against Ohio, the Heels turned it over 24 times.

If that happens against the Jayhawks, they will lose.

 

Kansas' Key Stat: Rebounding

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 18: Travis Releford #24 and Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks bring down a rebound during the second round of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament at CenturyLink Center March 18, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Get
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Jayhawks can't afford to be beaten up inside by the Tar Heels. This is the best frontcourt they've seen all year, but they have the horses to compete.

They have had games this season where they simply haven't shown up on the boards as a team. It happened in an upset by the Iowa State Cyclones in January. They were blasted 34-19 on the glass in that one.

They must bring maximum effort and rebound as a team to beat UNC.

 

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