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

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2022

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

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    Justin Rex/Associated Press

    From an overall perspective, numbers are immensely valuable. They help explain why good college basketball players and teams are productive and others are, well, not.

    Every season, you can find statistical odditiesboth positive or negativethat are just plain interesting. Whether it's understanding excellence, uncovering a rarity or recognizing a strange juxtaposition, these numbers add a layer of knowledge.

    Or some bizarre trivia, at least! That's pretty neat, too.

    These choices are inherently subjective and a product of how my brain functions. Fortunately for you, that's not a process you need, or want, to understand. If you have other favorites, hit me on Twitter.

South Dakota State's Long-Range Efficiency

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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Perhaps the easiest way for a mid-major program to be considered a March Madness upset candidate is to make a bunch of threes.

    Say hello to South Dakota State, my friends.

    Through 27 games, the Jackrabbitswho are 23-4 overall with a 14-0 mark in Summit League playboast a 45.0 three-point percentage. No team in the past decade has connected at a higher rate.

    Without question, the most impressive part is the depth of perimeter shooters. SDSU has six players who attempt 2.3 triples per game or more, and everyone hits at a 40.4 clip or betterincluding two, Alex Arians and Matthew Mims, above 50 percent.

    If the Jackrabbits can navigate the Summit League tournament and secure an auto-bid, you'll be hearing about them in March.

Onyebuchi Ezeakudo's No-Point Presence

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Everybody has a role. Learn it, embrace it, execute it.

    Pitt doesn't expect much scoring from Onyebuchi Ezeakudo, and that's OK. The senior guarda former walk-on playerhas logged 20.3 minutes per night, yet he's managed just 2.4 points per game. Ezeakudo is a defense-minded complementary piece.

    Having a low-scoring rotational player is typical. However, you'd figure someone could stumble into a couple of points when they're on the court for 20 minutes, right?

    Oddly enough, Ezeakudo has gone without scoring in seven appearances when he reached the 20-minute mark. The lone major-conference player with more 20-0 outings in the last decade is Seton Hall guard Tom Maayan, who posted 10 in 2012-13.

    Again, this is not a criticism of Ezeakudo. But that doesn't mean this contrast is any less bizarre.

Tarleton, the Gonzaga Outlier

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Last season's national runner-up, Gonzaga is once again ripping through its regular-season schedule. Losses to Duke and Alabama are the Bulldogs' only blemishes, as they have recorded 21 wins.

    Among those victories, they've notched a double-digit margin in 20 of them. That includes a 12-point triumph over Texas, a 20-point rout of UCLA and a 14-point win against Texas Techall three of which received a Top 20 spot in the latest AP polland four victories over key conference foes BYU, St. Mary's and San Francisco.

    So, naturally, the outlier is Tarleton State.

    Holding an 11-14 record, the Texans are eighth in the Western Athletic Conference standings. They're certainly not the program you would expect here. Tarleton went to Spokane in late November and put a serious scare into the Zags, who needed a strong final six minutes to avoid the upset and win 64-55.

Oscar Tshiebwe's Peak Production

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    Considering he's a National Player of the Year front-runner, it's no surprise there are plenty of Oscar Tshiebwe facts to share. Incredible numbers ought to follow that caliber of player.

    Let's focus on two, though.

    Already in 2021-22, the West Virginia transfer has five games of 10 points and 20 rebounds. If the Kentucky star registers one more, Tshiebwe would become the only player in the past decade with six of those in a single season.

    Plus, he's brought down 15.3 rebounds per game. Right now, that's the highest average in the past 30 years.

    Tshiebwe, a definite All-American, is putting together one of the most remarkable years in Kentucky history.

Walker Kessler's Block Rate

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Speaking of All-American transfers, Walker Kessler has made an incredible leap after moving from North Carolina to Auburn. He averaged 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds with UNC, but he's collected 11.6 and 8.5 per game, respectively, this season.

    Also, good luck shooting near him.

    So far, Kessler has posted a 20.3 block percentage. (The stat is an estimate of opponent two-point shots blocked by a player while he's on the floor.) In the last decade, exactly zero players have finished a season with a block rate higher than 20 percent while averaging 15-plus minutes on the court.

    Kessler, who's tallied a pair of triple-doubles with 11-plus blocks in both games, is dangerously close to a historic year.

Rutgers' Nonsensical Big Ten Results

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    Andy Manis/Associated Press

    As it stands, Rutgers is one of eight programs in the 14-member Big Ten with a conference winning percentage above .500. The team has posted a 6-1 mark against that group, which you'd think makes Rutgers a strong March Madness contender.

    However, that's not the case. The latest BracketMatrix update includes 15-9 Rutgers in one of 114 projections.

    Steve Pikiell's squad is somehow just 3-4 opposite the five programs with a sub-.500 league record (and hasn't yet played 7-7 Indiana). Throw in ugly letdowns to both UMass and Lafayette, and the Scarlet Knights are squarely on the wrong side of the bubble.

    If only they could beat their lowest competition?

Chet Holmgren's 2-Way Value

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Chet Holmgren ended the 2021 recruiting cycle as the nation's No. 1 prospect, but many questions followed him to Gonzaga. Most of all, what should we expect from a 7-footer with, as B/R NBA draft expert Jonathan Wasserman said, spaghetti arms and legs?

    The answer, it turns out, is a marvel of efficiency.

    Holmgren has buried 46.6 percent of his threes and leads Division I with a .733 true shooting percentage and .725 effective field-goal percentage. Additionally, his 77.3 defensive rating is tops in the countryand the third-best mark since 2010.

    To date, Holmgren has contributed 14.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 2.0 assists per game. He could become only the sixth different player in the past 30 years to average 14/9/3/2 for a season.

                  

    Recruiting information via 247Sports. Statistics courtesy of KenPom.com or Sports Reference unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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