The Most Mind-Boggling Stats in College Basketball This Season
College basketball fans shouldn't lose sight of the statistics for the trees.
Blueblood programs and their lottery-pick rosters are the main attractions of the sport. But they can obfuscate some of the season's most compelling stories. Sure, the mid-major teams can capture the national imagination with deep March runs, but that possibility also covers up the heroic and eye-popping performances that occur in the regular season, sometimes at schools that will never sniff the Big Dance.
Those are the players and performances we want to help recognize now. Sure, the household names make appearances, but there are plenty of individual statistics that are remarkable despite being off the beaten path. Here are the most mind-boggling stats in college basketball this season. For the sake of simplicity, we will be dealing with individual player stats only.
All statistics accurate as of February 22 and provided by Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.
Gary Clark's Defensive Rating
No defense outside of Charlottesvile is more feared this year than that of the Cincinnati Bearcats. And not even UVA has an individual defensive player on par with Cincinnati's Gary Clark.
Clark has an amazing 79.4 defensive rating, which averages how many points a player allows over 100 possessions. Clark's rating leads the nation, topping Virginia's Isaiah Watkins by nearly two full points.
As if that were not enough, Clark paces the nation in defensive win shares with 2.7 and win shares per 40 minutes with .309. Taken together, Clark is one of the best (most overlooked?) players in the country, leading the best Cincinnati team since Kenyon Martin roamed the campus.
Connor Burchfield's Three-Point Percentage
William and Mary isn't going anywhere this season. Sitting at 16-11 and fourth place in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Tribe probably need to win the conference tourney to break onto the big March stage.
Luckily for fans, they still have something to cheer for in senior guard Connor Burchfield.
Burchfield doesn't even score a lot of points—he's fifth on the squad with 12.1 points per game. He is the consummate specialist. He touches the ball, he fires a three. Of the eight field goals he attempts in an average game, 5.6 of those shots are threes, meaning 70 percent of his attempts come from behind the arc.
What's remarkable is the fact that he hits threes at a 51.3 percent clip. He's one of only two players in the nation (Marquette's Sam Hauser is the other) to make at least half of his deep attempts.
Rooting for Burchfield to wrap the season title in this category might be the best William and Mary fans can do this season.
Markus Howard's 52-Point Game
Times are bleak at the Bradley Center. The Marquette Golden Eagles are 16-11 overall and seventh in the Big East.
One of the lone bright spots is sophomore guard Markus Howard, who is second in the conference with 21.3 points per game.
In one of the team's best wins of the year, Howard poured in 52 points against Providence to push the Golden Eagles to a 95-90 overtime win.
In scoring 55 percent of the team's points that game, Howard shot 17-of-29 from the field, including 11 three-pointers, and converted all seven of his free throws.
It will be interesting to see what the 5'11" guard chooses to do after this season is over. He could be a major national player if he returns to school and keeps improving his game.
Sagaba Konate's Block Percentage
West Virginia sophomore forward Sagaba Konate is a problem in the paint. He's third in the nation with 3.4 blocks per contest and second in the Big 12 with a 25.2 defensive rebound percentage.
The number that really pops for him, however, is his 16.1 block percentage. Michigan State's Jaren Jackson sits a full point below Konate in the national rankings.
The rating means Konate has blocked a shot on 16 percent of an opponent's possessions where the opponent has taken a two-point shot. That's enough to swing the outcome of a close contest. By that definition, a player with this kind of dominance inside is a game-changer.
Udoka Azubuike's Field-Goal Percentage
Devonte Graham gets most of the shine in Lawrence, and reasonably so. Udoka Azubuike is arguably the team's indispensible power source, however.
He's third on the team with 14 points per game and leads the Jayhawks with 7.1 boards each contest.
What's most interesting is his field-goal percentage. At 77.1 percent, he leads the nation by more than seven percentage points. He also leads the nation in effective field-goal percentage with the same number. They're the same since he doesn't exactly jack up a lot of threes. Zero, to be exact.
But when the ball goes in nearly eight times out of 10 there's no need to tinker with the formula.
Trae Young's Record-Tying Game
It seems like a long time ago, doesn't it?
The date was December 19. The Oklahoma Sooners moved to 9-1 on the season with a 105-68 drubbing of Northwestern. A celebrated freshman named Trae Young was living up to the hype and then some, as he poured in 26 points against the Wildcats. It was his ninth consecutive game with at least 20 points, and it came on the heels of a 29-point gem that lifted the Sooners over then-third-ranked Wichita State.
Most impressively in the Northwestern game, though, was not Young's scoring but his distribution of the basketball. Young dished out 22 assists, tying the Division 1 single-game record.
Young and Oklahoma have dramatically hit the skids lately, and they are in the midst of a six-game tailspin. Here's hoping Young and the Sooners recapture their early-season electricity. The sport could use them.
Devontae Cacok's Rebounds Per Game
Devontae Cacok was a beast last season. Along with guard C.J. Bryce, Cacok propelled the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks to a Colonial Athletic Association title and a big dance berth, where they gave Virginia all it could handle before losing by five.
UNCW is way down this season at a disappointing 9-19. Cacok, however, is still putting in work, dominating the boards and the national rankings. His 13.6 rebounds a game are an eye-popping 1.3 rebounds per game over New Mexico's Jemerrio Jones.
That's the key stat, but it doesn't end there. He is also tops in the nation with a 24.7 total rebound percentage, a 17 offensive rebound percentage, 380 total rebounds and 139 offensive rebounds.
That's a machine right there.
Jock Landale's Player Efficiency Rating
Accounting for scoring and scoring efficiency, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, turnovers and other metrics, player efficiency rating may be the most comprehensive single stat for evaluating a player.
Last season, Saint Mary's big man Jock Landale finished second nationally in PER with 33.3. At this point in 2017-18, he's leading the field by a good margin with a 34.7 rating, well above the 31.5 of Duke super-frosh Marvin Bagley.
He's one of the best players in the country—potentially in the Player of the Year conversation—and the best player on the Gaels, now the second-place team in the West Coast Conference.
All stats obtained from Sports Reference unless otherwise noted.