The 25 Craziest Statistics of the College Basketball Season
This college basketball season has been the year of the unthinkable.
Some kid scored 138 points, TCU beat No. 1-seeded Kansas, and points are being scored at a rate lower than any other time since basketball fans watched the games (if they were lucky) on black-and-white televisions.
Lost in the upsets and parity are many records that are in jeopardy or have already been broken.
Here is a look at some of those records and the 25 craziest stats that help tell the story of what has been a wild season thus far.
Note: All statistics are through March 8 games. All advanced statistics come from KenPom.com (subscription required).
25. Michigan Avoiding the Whistle
One reason to like the Wolverines in the tournament is John Beilein rarely has to worry about sitting a key player because of fouls.
Michigan is one of the best teams in the country at avoiding fouls, and only one player (Jordan Morgan) has fouled out all season—which didn't happen until game No. 29.
According to statsheet.com, Stony Brook is the only other team with only one disqualification all season.
24. P.J. Hairston's Emergence for North Carolina
It's hard to imagine the North Carolina Tar Heels coming out of nowhere, but they went from mediocre to playing great when Roy Williams decided to go small and insert P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup on Feb. 13.
Since losing that first game against Duke, UNC has won six straight. Hairston is averaging 17.6 points per game in the last seven after averaging 12.1 until that point.
23. Davidson's Nik Cochran's Free-Throw Percentage
Davidson's Nik Cochran is shooting 95.5 percent (105 of 110) this season, the highest percentage since 2007 of a player with at least 50 attempts.
Davidson is also the top free-throw shooting team in the country at 81 percent.
22. Colorado State's Rebounding
Last season, Colorado State was the 268th-best team in the nation at hitting the offensive glass, and the 68th-best defensive rebounding team.
Enter Larry Eustachy.
The coach who loves his Diet Coke also likes rebounding, and the Rams made a ridiculous jump. They've been the second-best offensive rebounding team, grabbing 42 percent of their misses, and they are the best defensive rebounding team in the country, cleaning up 76.9 percent of opponents' misses.
Eustachy's teams have always been good on the glass, but nothing like this.
21. Phil Pressey's 19-and-19 Game
On Dec. 28 against UCLA, Missouri point guard Phil Pressey scored 19 points and had 19 assists—and the Tigers lost!
This was one of the more entertaining games of the season, as both teams got up and down the floor quickly. Little defense was played, and watching Pressey pick apart a defense when he's on is a lot of fun.
As good as Pressey was for most of the game, he did miss his last five shots and had three turnovers in the final nine minutes, which had a lot to do with the 97-94 OT loss. Still, his 19 and 19 was a great display of hoops.
20. Victor Oladipo's Three-Point Shooting
Victor Oladipo is on the Out-of-Nowhere All-Stars this season.
Oladipo had been a contributor before this year, but his long-range shooting numbers were nowhere close to what they've been this season.
Oladipo is making 49.1 percent of his threes, compared to 20.8 percent last year.
19. Long Island's Kenny Onyechi Lives at the Rim
Long Island's Kenny Onyechi, a 6'7" senior, has taken 66 shots this season. According to Hoop-Math.com, all 66 of Onyechi's attempts have been layups or dunks.
That's a player who knows his range.
18. Florida's Defensive Improvement
Billy Donovan told Eddie Matz of ESPN The Magazine that he wanted his defense to hold every opponent to less than 0.90 points per possession.
Um, coach, that's like impossible.
Well, going into Saturday's game, Donovan's bunch had done it in 22 out of 29 games and held opponents to 0.85 points per possession, which ranks second nationally. Last season, the Gators ranked 147th in points per possession allowed, giving up a hair under a point per possession.
17. Notre Dame's Eric Atkins Plays 60 Minutes
On Feb. 9, in a win against Louisville, Notre Dame guard Eric Atkins checked out of the game with 14:04 left in the first half. He checked back in with 8:24 left in the half, and he never came out again.
That wouldn't be all that amazing, but this game went to five overtimes, and Atkins logged 60 minutes.
Atkins is going to need a vacation after this season. The junior guard is averaging 38.4 minutes per game this year, obviously bumped up a bit by his 60 against Louisville.
16. Stephen F. Austin's Taylor Smith Flirting with 70 Percent Again
Last season, Stephen F. Austin forward Taylor Smith shot 70.1 percent from the field. That didn't really get noticed nationally since he started only three games and averaged 9.2 points.
This year, Smith is again under the radar but could become a name you recognize in a few weeks. He's making 69.3 percent of his attempts this season and averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game for the 25-3 Lumberjacks.
The only problem with Smith's game is that he shoots 48.6 percent at the free-throw line.
15. Kelly Olynyk's Efficiency
Stop me if you've heard this before. Guy redshirts after his sophomore year because he probably isn't going to get to play much. He comes back the next season, makes 69.5 percent of his twos, averages 17.7 points and is (likely) an All-American.
Oh wait, you didn't stop me? Ahhh, that's because the Kelly Olynyk story still sounds made up.
The Toronto-born Olynyk was always a good shooter, even before his redshirt year. But the season he has had is one of the most out-of-nowhere campaigns we've ever seen in college basketball.
14. Marshall's Nigel Spikes Ability to Get to the Line
Marshall's Nigel Spikes is the only player in the country to attempt more free throws (121) than field-goal attempts (115).
The man is consistent. Last season he attempted just as many free throws (101) as field-goal attempts (101).
This isn't as unusual as you would think. Two players have done it at least twice in their careers since 2005. Sai'Quon Stone from Southern Miss did it four times from 2008-2011, and Imad Qahwash from Central Arkansas did it in 2009 and 2010.
13. VCU Forcing Turnovers
Shaka Smart's "Havoc" style is forcing turnovers on 29.1 percent of opponents' possessions this season.
It is the second year in a row that VCU has led the nation in turnover rate and this season's 29.1 percent is the second-best turnover rate in the Ken Pomeroy era (since 2003)—Air Force had a 29.5 percent turnover rate in 2004.
12. Louisville's Defense
Louisville's defense this season is the best since Ken Pomeroy started tracking adjusted defensive efficiency in 2003, which tracks how many points a team gives up per 100 possessions and is adjusted by opponent strength.
Louisville's adjusted efficiency is 81.1. The best before the Cardinals was Kansas in 2007 at 82.2.
11. Jeff Withey's Block Retention
KU's Jeff Withey is the best shot-blocker in the country with 120 swats.
That's impressive and all, but what is eye-popping good about Withey's shot-blocking abilities is how often his team comes away with the ball when he blocks a shot. To date, KU has come away with the ball on 88 (73.3 percent) of Withey's blocks.
This isn't exactly a stat that is kept by the NCAA, so it's hard to compare with other players, but here's one way to look at it...
The best defensive rebounding team in the country (Colorado State) pulls down 76.9 percent of misses, and any blocked shots are considered rebounds. So when Withey blocks a shot, his team is close to the best rebounding team in the country.
10. Benchwarmer in Regulation, Star in Overtime
This was the most bizarre stat of the season.
Notre Dame's Garrick Sherman did not play one minute during regulation on Feb. 9 against Louisville and finished with 17 points in the game.
Sherman played 22 minutes in a 104-101 win for Notre Dame, all coming in the five overtimes. Sherman had not played in the previous two games and had scored two points in a month going into the game.
9. Doug McDermott's Shooting
Creighton's Doug McDermott is the only player in the country averaging more than 20 points per game and shooting better than 50 percent.
McDermott is averaging 23.3 points per game, shooting 56 percent from the field and making 48.9 percent of his threes.
To show how impressive those numbers are, take a look at another big man who scored inside and outside the three-point line, Kevin Durant.
In his one year at Texas, Durant shot 47.4 percent from the field, 42.1 percent from three and averaged 25.6 points.
8. Trey Burke's Assist/Turnover Ratio
Here's one argument for Michigan point guard Trey Burke as the National Player of the Year:
Burke's assist-to-turnover ratio is 3.65, which leads the country for anyone who averages more than three assists per game.
That mark is not only amazing for a player who handles the ball as much as Burke, it's historically great. Out of players who finished with more than 200 assists, only Pittsburgh's Levance Fields, in 2009, had a better mark (3.80). Burke's current 3.65 would also rank fifth on the all-time NCAA list.
7. Akron's Defense at the Rim
If you're shooting at the rim, it's safe to assume you have a better than 50 percent chance of coming away with a bucket.
Not against Akron.
According to Hoop-Math.com, Akron is holding opponents to 46 percent shooting at the rim. The Zips are the only team in the country that holds opponents below 50 percent on layups and dunks.
It helps to have seven-footer Zeke Marshall, who is blocking 13.8 percent of opponents' two-point attempts.
6. Ryan Kelly's 36
You may have heard Duke's Ryan Kelly was out almost two months with a foot injury. And you probably also heard he dropped 36 points in his return to lead Duke over Miami.
This is the one situation where any talk that felt like hyperbole when it came to Duke and Kelly was justified.
The guy had not played for almost two months! And he scored a career-high 36 in his return. THIRTY-SIX! Still seems unreal.
5. Ohio's D.J. Cooper Starts His Own Club
D.J. Cooper became the first player in NCAA history to put up more than 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in his career.
Cooper currently has 2,018 points, 912 assists, 610 rebounds and 321 steals.
This isn't just a good player racking up ridiculous numbers at a small school. Cooper is legit, as he proved last season when he led the Bobcats to the Sweet 16, where they lost to North Carolina in overtime.
4. Someone Make a Basket
Through March 4, NCAA teams were averaging 67.58 points per game, according to Ken Pomeroy.
At that rate, this will be the lowest-scoring season since 1952. For an explanation of why, read this.
3. KU's Field-Goal Percentage Defense
Kansas is on track to set an NCAA record.
Opponents are shooting only 35.1 percent against the Jayhawks. The NCAA started tracking field-goal percentage defense in 1978 and the best mark since then was Stanford holding opponents to 35.2 percent in 2000.
The Jayhawks are getting it done with the best defense inside the arc in the country. Opponents are making only 37.6 percent of their twos, and the Jayhawks are the only team in the country holding opponents under 40 percent inside the arc. It's also the best two-point percentage defense since Ken Pomeroy started tracking the stat in 2003.
2. Career Day for Kendall Williams of New Mexico
On Feb. 23 at Colorado State, Kendall Williams topped 20 points for the first time in a Mountain West game all season. Only he didn't stop there.
Williams made 10 threes and went off for 46 points in Fort Collins. His previous season high was 24.
To show how rare Williams' 10 threes were, consider that only two times before that had he made more than two threes in a game. Also since that game, Williams is 0-of-8 from beyond the arc.
1. Jack Taylor's 138
It's not Division I, but you cannot ignore what Jack Taylor of Grinnell did on Nov. 21.
Taylor scored an NCAA-record 138 points in a 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible. No misprint here. Taylor got up 108 shots (making 52) and 71 threes (making 27).
It wasn't like he was unguarded either. Watch the video. Eventually, Faith Baptist Bible started doubling Taylor and he just kept on shooting.
In a year where scoring is as tough as ever on the D-1 level, Taylor was a nice reminder that points are still being scored somewhere in college basketball.