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The Biggest Weakness of Every Sweet 16 Team

C.J. MooreCollege Basketball National Lead WriterDecember 23, 2016

The Biggest Weakness of Every Sweet 16 Team

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    If the first weekend of the NCAA tournament taught us anything, it's time to throw out the seeds. 

    The tournament is all about matchups now and seeding hardly matters. The favorites are still the favorites for a reason, but upsets will likely happen because one team's weakness matches up against another team's strength. 

    Gonzaga, for instance, gave up a lot of three-point attempts this year. Even though Gonzaga's opponents didn't shoot it great from deep (32.9 percent), the Zags were playing with fire and Wichita State burned them with 14 threes.

    So what are the weaknesses for each team left? Let's examine. 

    *All advanced stats unless otherwise noted come from KenPom.com.

Louisville (No. 1 Midwest)

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    Weakness: Do they have one? 

    At one point this season, it would have been Russ Smith's shot selection, but Smith is playing at an extremely high level right now. He made 4-of-7 threes against Colorado State and is now 12-of-25 from deep in five postseason games. 

    The only danger of Smith feeling good about his shot is one of these games he might go cold and show the bad side of Russdiculous. 

    That has to be one of the only worries for Rick Pitino, as his team is playing better than any other in this tournament. 

Oregon (No. 12 Midwest)

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    Weakness: Turnovers

    Oregon better spend the week figuring out how to cut down on its giveaways, because that's a bad weakness to have going up against Louisville's full-court pressure. 

    The Ducks have turned it over 36 times in two tourney games, and they haven't seen anything yet. For the season, they turn it over on 21.5 percent of their possessions, which ranks 264th in the country according to KenPom.com

    The Cardinals are forcing turnovers on 28 percent of opponents' possessions, and that number has gone up to 32.4 percent (108 turnovers) in five postseason games. 

Michigan State (No. 3 Midwest)

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    Weakness: Turnovers

    The Spartans gave it away 18 times against Memphis and many of those were unforced. They have given away 35 turnovers in the NCAA tournament. 

    The good news for Tom Izzo is that point guard Keith Appling is not the one giving the ball away. Appling has gone through stretches where his decision-making has been shaky, but he has only two turnovers in the tourney. 

    Duke will apply a lot of pressure on the perimeter and one big key will be how Appling deals with it. The way to beat Duke's pressure is to attack similarly to what Miami's Shane Larkin has done. 

Duke (No. 2 Midwest)

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    Weakness: Rebounding

    The Blue Devils allow opponents to grab 32.4 percent of their misses. This is a strength for Michigan State, as Tom Izzo's team comes away with 36.5 percent of its misses. 

    The Spartans rebounded 10 of their 26 misses against Memphis. What makes them so tough on the boards is they have three players who hit the glass hard in Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson and Derrick Nix. 

    One key for Duke is stopping the penetration of Keith Appling. If Appling is able to get to the paint and force help, the Spartans could get a lot of easy putbacks. 

Wichita State (No. 9 West)

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    Weakness: Fouling

    Wichita State opponents average 19 free-throw attempts per game. In five of the Shockers' eight losses, they have allowed 20 or more free-throw attempts. 

    Gonzaga was able to get to the line for 29 attempts, including 14 from Kelly Olynyk. 

    The good news for the Shockers is that there is not a big man as adept at getting to the line as Olynyk left in their region. 

    It also benefits Gregg Marshall that he has one of the deepest rotations in the country and can spread those fouls around. Wichita State has had only seven players foul out this season. 

La Salle (No. 13 West)

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    Weakness: Interior defense

    La Salle opponents make 50.8 percent of their twos and, typically, opposing big men have a heyday against the La Salle defense. 

    For instance, K-State's Jordan Henriquez scored a season-high 17 points against La Salle in the round of 64, and it was only the second time all season Henriquez had scored in double figures. 

    Interior scoring is a strength for the Shockers, as their two leading scorers—Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall—both play inside. 

Arizona (No. 6 West)

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    Weakness: Lacking a true point guard

    Point guard play cannot be the critique of Arizona so far in this tournament the way that Mark Lyons is playing. In two tourney games, Lyons is averaging 25 points per game, making 73.7 percent of his twos and 46.2 percent of his threes. 

    Lyons is a great scorer, and there's no questioning that. Ohio State, however, has a defender in Aaron Craft who will make it tough for him to continue doing what he's done. That's when a player like Lyons needs to focus on setting up for his teammates, and that's not exactly his game. 

Ohio State (No. 2 West)

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    Weakness: Ohio State opponents shoot a lot of threes

    That doesn't really sound like a typical weakness, but in a single-elimination tournament, that can be a dangerous way to live. 

    Iowa State nearly knocked off OSU by getting up 25 threes and making 12. Earlier this year, Michigan beat Ohio State by going 14-of-24 from beyond the arc. 

    This sort of strategy is right in Arizona's wheelhouse. The Wildcats shoot 37.2 percent from deep and get up nearly 21 attempts per game.

Kansas (No. 1 South)

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    Weakness: Consistent scoring

    The Jayhawks are susceptible to long scoring droughts. Any team that scores only 13 points against TCU in a half is one that is flawed offensively. 

    Kansas put itself in a tough spot against North Carolina on Sunday by scoring only 21 points in the first half. Luckily for the Jayhawks, Jeff Withey and their defense kept them in the game. 

    Michigan has one of the best offenses in the country. It would be tough to win with a prolonged drought against the Wolverines. Ben McLemore, who scored only two points against UNC, needs to get going. 

Michigan (No. 4 South)

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    Weakness: Defense (at least, it was)

    The story on the Wolverines all season was that they were a great scoring team with just an OK defense. 

    Well, the sample size is not much, but in two NCAA tourney games, Michigan's defense has been outstanding. South Dakota State scored only 56 against Michigan and VCU was held to 53. 

    It was the third-lowest points per possession this season for South Dakota State and the second-lowest total for VCU. 

    Another weakness has been interior scoring, and the insertion of Mitch McGary into the starting lineup may have fixed both of Michigan's flaws. McGary scored 13 points against South Dakota State and then had the best game of his season against VCU, finishing with 21 points and 14 rebounds. 

    McGary's next challenge, going up against KU's Jeff Withey, will really show how ready he is to lead his team in the paint.

Florida (No. 3 South)

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    Weakness: Playing in close games

    Until Florida wins a close game, this will continue to come up. 

    The Gators have yet to win a game all season decided by single digits. Luckily for the Gators, they are really good at blowing out opponents and their smallest margin of victory is 10 points. 

    So far in the NCAA tournament it has not mattered, as Florida has won both games comfortably. 

    Florida Gulf Coast seems to be a team with destiny on its side. Of course, the same could have been said last year for No. 15 seed Norfolk State after knocking off Missouri. Florida ended Norfolk's run with a dominant 84-50 win in the next round. 

Florida Gulf Coast (No. 15 South)

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    Weakness: Consistent three-point shooting

    Florida Gulf Coast has played at such a high level for two games that it's believable this team can keep it up. The Eagles are not suddenly going to become less athletic, which is probably their biggest strength. 

    The one area of their game that may be tough to keep up is their three-point shooting. In the last three games—including the Atlantic Sun championship game—they have made 24-of-53 threes (45.3 percent). 
    In the nine games before that, FGCU was actually in a bit of a funk from deep, shooting only 27 percent during that stretch. 

    To beat Florida, the Eagles will need their shooting to travel from Philly to Arlington. 

Indiana (No. 1 East)

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    Weakness: Playing at a slow pace

    Heading into the NCAA tournament, Indiana had played seven games that featured 64 or less offensive possessions, which would be considered a slow pace. In those seven games, the Hoosiers were 2-5. 

    This is why Bo Ryan has had their number. 

    Well, both games in the tournament have been played a slow pace (62 offensive possessions each) and Indiana has been able to figure out a way to win. Obviously, the Temple win was not an easy one, but it was a good sign for the Hoosiers that they were able to grind one out. 

Syracuse (No. 4 East)

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    Weakness: Scoring in the half court

    This is mostly going off the eye test and the fact that Syracuse lacks a true low-post threat, which means if the guards aren't hitting from outside, Syracuse's half-court offense can struggle. 

    The Orange are at their best when forcing a lot of turnovers, and the numbers say so as well. 

    Taking out games before Big East play started (since there were a lot of cream puffs in there), I compared the games when the Orange have forced 16 or more turnovers to the games in which they have not. 

    Nine times they've forced 16 or more giveaways, and in those nine games they are 7-2 and have averaged 68.9 points per game. 

    In the games they've forced less than 16 turnovers, they're 9-6 and have averaged 63.9 points per game. 

    Limiting turnovers will be a big key for Indiana on Thursday. 

Marquette (No. 3 East)

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    Weakness: Perimeter shooting

    Before the unbelievable comeback against Davidson got started, Marquette had gone 1-of-12 from three in that game. The Golden Eagles then hit three straight threes to rally from a six-point deficit in the final 1:02. 

    Marquette continued to shoot well against Butler, going 5-of-12 from deep. 

    Perimeter shooting, however, has not been a strength for the Golden Eagles this year. They make only 30.3 percent of their threes and have only one player who shoots better than 35 percent—Jamil Wilson at 36.3 percent. 

    Vander Blue, who is a 30.9 percent three-point shooter, has made 5-of-10 in the tourney. If he stays hot, the Golden Eagles will have a chance against Miami. 

Miami (No. 2 East)

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    Weakness: Free-throw shooting

    This is a bit of a stretch—Miami is a team that does just about everything well, if not great. 

    The 'Canes do shoot 68.3 percent from the line, which is not horrible, but it does rank 213th in the country. 

    Free-throw shooting was a problem for most of the game on Sunday against Illinois. At one point, the 'Canes were 4-of-9 at the line in a close game. To their credit, they made their final six from the stripe in the last 36 seconds to hold on. 

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