“March Madness: Where everyone’s an expert.”
If there’s anything the NCAA tournament teaches us college basketball fans, it’s that we know nothing.
We fill out our brackets, chatting with buddies and explaining why we think _____ State will knock off ________ University in the second round. Everyone wants to be right—to be the bracket-whisperer who paid attention this year and knows their stuff.
But the early rounds are long gone. We’re in the thick of March Madness, and given the way this year’s tournament has panned out, the odds are high you need a fire extinguisher to put out your burning bracket and a big hug.
While we can’t give you those things (blame the legal department), we can give you some fancy statistics and facts to drop about this year’s tournament while you’re watching the next game with your buds.*
Hey, you might be losing the bracket pool, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sound like you’re winning.
*Figures current as of March 31, 2013.
Or rather, they don't get many fouls called on them.
Averaging nine personal fouls per game during the NCAA tournament, the Michigan Wolverines aren’t giving away free points to their opponents at the charity stripe.
The Wolverines are ranked second in Division-I basketball in fewest personal fouls committed, averaging 12.7 for the 2012-13 season. Only once this year has a Michigan player fouled out of a game (tied with Stony Brook for least disqualifications in the nation).
It's a hard stat to believe, considering they have Mitch McGary—the human Whomping Willow—on their team.
After defeating Florida in the SEC tournament and earning the Rebels an at-large bid to the big dance, Ole Miss shooting guard Marshall Henderson upped the ante on his high-volume shooting in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Henderson went 14-of-42 (33 percent) from the field during the Rebels’ two-game stint in the tourney (second-round win over Wisconsin, third-round loss to La Salle).
His 42 field-goal attempts accounted for 35 percent of the team’s 120 total attempts in the tournament, and Henderson’s 549 field-goal attempts during the 2012-13 season accounted for 25 percent of the team’s total attempts on the year.
Jim Boeheim’s Orangemen and their lengthy 2-3 zone defense have all but swallowed the three-point line for their opponents in the tournament.
The average height of Syracuse’s starting five is 6’6”. Their length, combined with excellent footwork, has allowed the Orangemen to hold their opponents to a crippling 16.7 percent from the three-point arc in the last three games of the tournament.
It’s not completely surprising, considering the Orangemen came into the tournament ranked third in the nation in three-point field-goal percentage allowed (28.3 percent on the year), but even Syracuse fans must be surprised with their team’s ability to buckle down even harder come tournament time.
Not by blood, but by something much more important—stats.
Trey Burke tallied 20 points and 10 assists during Michigan’s Sweet 16 upset of the Kansas Jayhawks on Friday.
Oddly enough, the last player to record 20 points and 10 assists in a Sweet 16 game was Florida basketball head coach Billy Donovan, who managed the feat in 1987 with Providence College.
With 11 national championships to its name, UCLA is one of the most storied programs in college basketball.
Nevertheless, the Bruins haven’t won a national championship since 1995, and after a disappointing second-round loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers in this year’s tournament, the program fired Ben Howland and has hired New Mexico’s Steve Alford as its new head coach.
If you and your friends get into a discussion over whether UCLA will be better off with Alford at the helm, you can tell them New Mexico’s former head coach hasn’t taken the Lobos past the round of 32 in his last six NCAA tournament appearances. Alford has two tournament wins in his last 14 years as a Division-I coach
Then again, Alford was also the first coach in school history to take the Lobos to at least 22 wins in each of his first six seasons with the program.
Indiana’s All-American center Cody Zeller was an on-again, off-again force for the Hoosiers this year—catching fire and cooling off in cycles with the temperamental high-scoring Hoosier offense.
The preseason Wooden Award favorite showed signs of dominance throughout the year, but struggled mightily against teams like Syracuse, whose long-limbed bruisers under the net packed Zeller five times in the Hoosiers’ Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse.
Plenty of reasons exist in regard to why Zeller struggled against big, physical opponents, but one biological factor that didn’t do him any help is the fact the seven-footer has the wingspan of a 6’8” player.
Wichita State is out-blocking and out-rebounding almost everyone in the tournament.
During their 70-66 victory over No. 2 seed Ohio State, the Shockers blocked 14.8 percent of the Buckeyes’ two-point field-goal attempts—a stark jump from their season average of 8.7 percent.
Wichita State also cleans up on the defensive glass. The team is 14th in the nation in opponent offensive rebounds allowed per game (7.3) during the 2012-13 season.
Also, of the 8.1 million brackets created on ESPN.go.com, only 19,157 (.002 percent) had Wichita State in the Final Four.
Yes, they've both been knocked out, but their track records suggest they'll be back next year. The Midwest Region Sweet 16 matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and the Michigan State Spartans was a faceoff between tournament thoroughbreds—Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski.
Between them, the two coaches have a combined 120 tournament wins in their coaching careers—a record for two teams playing one another in the NCAA tournament.
Though his Bulldogs fell to Marquette in the round of 32, Brad Stevens is still a winner the eyes of many, specifically basketball programs looking for a quality coach to turn around their programs.
And the numbers tell the truth—Stevens is 166-49 coaching at Butler and has won more games in his first six years with the program than any other coach in NCAA Division-I history.
Players shooting to tie or win the game in the last 10 seconds of play are 5-of-12 so far in the 2013 NCAA tournament—a remarkable improvement on last year, where shooters were 0-of-13 on last-second daggers.
This year’s buzzer-beating heroics included: