The Most Mind-Boggling Stats in Men's College Basketball This Season

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterFebruary 16, 2021

The Most Mind-Boggling Stats in Men's College Basketball This Season

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    Drew Timme (center)
    Drew Timme (center)Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    The NCAA's early bracket reveal over the weekend didn't exactly unearth a treasure trove of surprises. Gonzaga was first, Baylor was second, Michigan and Ohio State rounded out the No. 1 seeds, and so on.

    There's plenty of season left, and shockers are always possible. But unless you have a lot of faith in Cinderellas, you may have to look elsewhere for your college basketball intrigue as we head toward the most unconventional tourney in a generation or more.

    Here's an idea: the mind-boggling statistics some of these teams and players are putting up.

    Wherever team dominance exists, statistical dominance tends to follow. This applies to the nation's top programs, but it extends elsewhere, too.

    Take a look at some of the most eye-popping numbers around college basketball this season.

Gonzaga's Scoring and Field-Goal Percentage

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    Andrew Nembhard (left) and Corey Kispert
    Andrew Nembhard (left) and Corey KispertRich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    We could strictly focus on the odds-on favorites to cut down the nets. The sheer number of categories in which the Gonzaga Bulldogs appear at or near the top is the most mind-boggling aspect of all.

    Gonzaga's pick-and-roll offense excels at creating open looks, and this season the Bulldogs are converting. According to NCAA stats, Gonzaga shoots 55.1 percent from the floor, which is more than two full percentage points above second-ranked Stephen F. Austin and more than four points over Baylor, the highest-ranked power conference program. 

    Sophomore forward Drew Timme is the primary driver of this number. His 64 percent shooting clip ranks ninth in the country.

    But this is a team effort, and that's most evident in the 93 points per game Gonzaga is averaging this season. No other team is even breaking 90.

    So if the Bulldogs have felt like a runaway train this season, that's because they have been. However, their strength of schedule is barely in the top 100, which may wind up being most telling statistic of all once the Pepperdines of the world have cleared the floor.    

Luka Garza’s Player Efficiency Rating

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    Luka Garza (left)
    Luka Garza (left)Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Luka Garza is another sure thing among this season's top-line narratives.

    Barring the sudden emergence of a werewolf, Garza is a virtual lock to take home Player of the Year honors. His dominance is no more evident anywhere than in his player efficiency rating.

    PER was designed to quantify a player's impact on the court. The bigger the impact, the higher the PER.

    Garza leads the nation in PER by a full—dare we say mind-boggling?—2.7 points over Ryan Davis, a good player on a team (Vermont) that doesn't play a power-conference schedule. It also beats last year's leader, William and Mary's Nathan Knight, by 2.5 points. That alone explains why he's the odds-on favorite for Player of the Year.

    Want another statistical marker of Garza's across-the-board dominance? He also leads the nation in points per game (24.5), overall field goals (191), offensive win shares (3.9) and offensive box plus/minus (12.5).

Virginia's Adjusted Tempo

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    Virginia guard Kihei Clark and forward Sam Hauser guard Notre Dame guard Prentiss Hubb
    Virginia guard Kihei Clark and forward Sam Hauser guard Notre Dame guard Prentiss HubbRobert Franklin/Associated Press

    Think of Virginia as the anti-Gonzaga. While the Bulldogs pile on points, the Cavaliers do everything they can to stop teams from scoring. Part of that is to slow the ball down.

    The Cavs are last in the country in KenPom's adjusted tempo ratings with 59.8 possessions per 40 minutes. The next-closest team, Mount St. Mary's, notches nearly two more possessions per game than the 'Hoos.

    If you're a fan of defense and methodicalness, Virginia is for you.

    That style of play may not be exciting, but it's the linchpin of an ACC-leading 15-3 team that has held opponents below 60 points on 10 different occasions.

Jalen Moore's Assists (and Turnovers)

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    JUCO transfer Jalen Moore is faring well in his first Division I season. He leads the nation with 8.1 assists per contest, which is nearly a half-assist higher than second place (Colbey Ross of Pepperdine).

    Oakland is only 9-16 the season, but Moore is still making his mark. He's being helped by backcourt partner Rashad Williams, who sits second nationally with 76 three-pointers made on the season.

    Moore also leads the nation with his 46.4 assist percentage. No one's perfect, though, as his 100 total turnovers are tops in the nation as well. 

Offensive Juggernaut Jack Ferguson

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    Jack Ferguson (left)
    Jack Ferguson (left)John Munson/Associated Press

    Gonzaga star Corey Kispert is second in the nation with a 139.9 offensive rating. Not too shabby. 

    But it's 17 points lower than Colgate guard Jack Ferguson. 

    Ferguson's 156.3 comes as the surging 9-1 Raiders lead the Patriot League and vie for an automatic tourney bid. Ferguson is second on his team in scoring with 13.1 points per game. 

    The thing is, he does it in only about 20 minutes per game. And when he does take a shot, it seems to go in, as he's shooting 52.8 percent overall and 52.0 percent from three-point range. That explains why he also leads the nation in true shooting percentage with 75.1.

    But that isn't the half of it. How's this for eye-popping: He's missed only two free throws all season. 

    All stats are current through Sunday, Feb. 14.


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