Monday, March 12, 2012

Fun Facts About Each of the 68 Tournament Teams

Before you fill out your bracket, I've compiled a list of fun facts about each of the tournament teams. Some of them contain valuable information (see: UNLV). Some of them are just intended to be funny (see: Saint Bonaventure). Either way, I'm willing to bet you didn't know most of this, so hopefully you can use it effectively in whatever your selection strategy may be.

#1 Seeds: 

Kentucky – John Calipari has never won a national championship. Anthony Davis does not own a mirror. Kentucky led the nation in blocks per game and average margin of victory.

Michigan State – Tom Izzo always advances further in the tournament than you expect. Pick them to lose to Memphis or Louisville. Izzo dares you.

North Carolina – Led the nation in rebounds per game. 2nd in the nation in points per game. 4th in the nation in assists per game. 8th in the nation in blocks per game. Remind me what their weakness is?

Syracuse – Ten guys on the team average 10+ minutes per game. Only Kris Joseph plays more than 26.6 minutes per game. They won’t get tired.

#2 Seeds:

Duke – Andre Dawkins has averaged 9.7 points per game in Duke’s 27 wins. Andre Dawkins has averaged 2.8 points per game in Duke’s 6 losses. Andre Dawkins has scored a total of 3 points in the last 5 games combined. This won’t end well.

Missouri – Of all players in the NCAA Tournament, Ricardo Ratliffe has the highest FG%. Missouri is 3rd in the nation in points per shot.

Kansas – The last time Kansas failed to win the Big 12 conference tournament (2009), they were eliminated in the Sweet 16. The time before that (2005), they lost to Bucknell in the first round. Missouri won the Big 12 conference tournament this year.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes played 13 games against ranked opponents this season. 16 of their 34 games came against teams that made the tournament. They won 10 of those 16 games. Can you say battle tested?

#3 Seeds: 

Baylor – 10-7 against teams that made the NCAA Tournament. Maybe that last Ohio State stat wasn’t so impressive after all. Here’s a new one for the Buckeyes: I make 10 brackets every year based on some variety of statistics. Every single year, the “Average Margin of Victory * Conference RPI” bracket finishes in first place out of the 10 brackets. Literally every year for about 10 straight years. That bracket says Ohio State will win it all. (If you’re still reading for Baylor, Perry Jones III – the guy who was a projected lottery pick last year based solely on potential – is averaging an 18-10 in the past 5 games. If anyone’s going to pull a Kemba Walker this year, I think Perry’s the guy.)

Marquette – Had the quietest 14-4 Big East record in conference history.

Georgetown – In two games in the Big East tourney, Henry Sims averaged a 21-14. When he wants to play, no one can play with him.

Florida State – 7-1 this season against the other 4 ACC teams that made the tournament. 0-2 this season against the Ivy League. Wild card, bitches!

#4 Seeds: 

Indiana – The Hoosiers have only made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 1 of their last 12 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Good thing no one on this team was on any of those 12 teams, right?

Louisville – Excluding guys named Anthony Davis, Gorgui Dieng has the most blocked shots in the tournament field. He’s also prone to fouling out of games, so his (and Louisville’s) success will depend heavily on whether the refs let them play Big East Basketball.

Michigan – Darius Morris has scored a total of 35 points this season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Good job bolting for the NBA after your sophomore season.

Wisconsin – Wisconsin is 19-0 this season when holding opponents to 57 or fewer points per game, and 5-9 when their opponents score 58 or more. Montana has scored at least 57 points in all but 1 game this season. Ditto for Vanderbilt.

#5 Seeds: 

Wichita State – Between the loss to Illinois State and the potential Sweet 16 pairing with Kentucky, the Shockers set the single season record for most people jumping off of the “Dark Horse for the Final Four!” bandwagon. At least we know where all of the inevitable “Vanderbilt could make a deep run” discussions originated.

New Mexico – Drew Gordon averages a double double. No one else on the team averages more than 3.7 rebounds per game, yet they’re 29th in the nation in rebounding thanks to 6 guys averaging between 2.8-3.7 rebounds per game. Everyone is a threat to grab the loose ball in a second round game that will have a lot of long rebounds – New Mexico and Long Beach State combine to average 23.9 missed 3 pointers per game.

Temple – Juan Fernandez is averaging 11.4 points, 3.9 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game, in what is presumably his 13th and final season with the Owls.

Vanderbilt – John Jenkins leads the nations in 3 pointers made and attempted (126 of 278). Jeffery Taylor is 61 for 142 from behind the arc. Rest of the team combined makes less than 3 triples per game. If anyone is smart enough to pull off a Triangle & 2 defense, it’s Harvard.

#6 Seeds: 

UNLV – The Rebels had an outstanding home record this season, but are 2-6 in their last 8 road/neutral games. The two wins came in overtime against the two worst teams in the conference. First two games are being played in Albuquerque. Buyer beware.

Murray State – If Perry Jones III doesn’t want the role of Kemba Walker 2.0, Isaiah Canaan will gladly take it.

San Diego State – San Diego isn’t actually a state, but they are 7-1 this season against schools with “State” in their name. Good luck, NC State.

Cincinnati – 10-10 in the NCAA Tournament since 1997. Play the odds and pick them to win one and only one.

#7 Seeds: 

Notre Dame – The Irish commit fewer personal fouls per game than any other team in the tournament. Really, that just tells me they didn’t play in many games involving furious comeback attempts, but Mike Brey does always have disciplined teams.

Florida – They take (25) and make (9.9) more 3-pointers per game than any other team in the tournament. Really wish the committee would’ve matched them up with Syracuse’s 2-3 Zone.

Saint Mary’s – Between Matthew Dellavedova and Steve Holt(!), the Gaels have a number of players worth rooting for, solely on the basis of their names. By the time they play on Friday, it will have been 11 days since their last game.

Gonzaga – Despite winning just 9 games in their last 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, people continue to pick Gonzaga to win at least two games, simply because they enjoy saying the word ‘Gonzaga.’

#8 Seeds: 

Iowa State – Bold prediction: you know nothing about Iowa State. I follow college basketball as religiously as possible, and I only saw them play twice. From those two games though, I surmised that Royce White is the best college player you’ve never heard of (in the tournament at least, because Damian Lillard is probably the best college player you’ve never heard of), and Scott Christopherson is a streaky shooter with no limit to his range. Whether or not the Cyclones beat UConn, Kentucky is in for a battle.

Memphis – Their last 10 wins of the season were by 21.2 points per game. Over the course of the season, Kentucky’s average margin of victory was 19.2 points per game. Next best (UNC/Ohio State) is 16.1. Safe to say this team is peaking at the right time.

Creighton – Led the nation in Field Goal percentage (50.9%). Doug McDermott was the 3rd leading scorer in the nation, and is the leading scorer in the tournament field. RIP Reggie Hamilton and Damian Lillard.

Kansas State – Swept Missouri. Got swept by Oklahoma. Given their inconsistency and their inability to shoot threes (5.7 made per game), it’d be foolish to pick them to beat Syracuse, no matter how much we all hate the Big East.

#9 Seeds:

Connecticut – They were a 9 seed in the Big East tournament last year before winning it all. They were a 9 seed in the Big East tournament this year. And a 9 seed in the big dance. And they won it all in 1999. Do you believe in lucky numbers as irrationally as NBA Scouts believe in Andre Drummond?

Saint Louis – It’s been a good year for Saint Louis. The Cardinals won the World Series, the Blues have more points than any other NHL team, and the Rams just sold the #2 draft pick to the Redskins for 3 first rounders, a second rounder, Daniel Snyder’s third-born son, and the Washington Wizards. Move over, Boston. Saint Louis is the new sports capital of the world.

Alabama – The Crimson Tide are 4-6 against teams that made the tournament. None of those wins occurred in the past 3 months.

Southern Miss – In their final 11 games, Southern Miss went 6-5 without winning a game by more than 8 points. In a conference that only sent one other team to the tournament.

#10 Seeds:

Xavier – Tu Holloway makes more free throws per game (6.5) than any other player in the tournament field.

Virginia – Allowed fewer points to opponents than any other team in the nation. 13th in the nation in 3PT FG defense (29.4%). Facing Florida should be the ultimate unstoppable force vs. immovable object debate.

Purdue – Committed the fewest turnovers per game in the nation. Shooting 44% from the field and 65% from the charity stripe should really count as a few extra turnovers per game, though.

West Virginia – 7th in the nation (2nd in the tournament) in offensive rebounds per game. Kevin Jones, meet Robert Sacre. Also, the Mountaineers lost 13 games, including a 19 point loss to Seton Hall. But they totally deserve to be in ahead of the Pirates. Ugh.

#11 Seeds:

Colorado – Only 1 of Colorado’s 11 losses was by fewer than 7 points. Ladies and gentlemen, your Pac-12 automatic qualifier!

Colorado State – During the regular season, the Rams were 14-1 at home and 5-9 in road/neutral games, including losing every road conference game against teams not named Air Force. The altitude won’t help them in Louisville against a team from Kentucky.

North Carolina State – At 91.9%, Scott Wood is the only person in the tournament with a FT% higher than 90%.

Texas – The Longhorns went 4-11 against teams that made the tournament, and 0-8 against ranked opponents. Maybe they can get by Cincinnati? Good luck with #12 Florida State and #7 Ohio State.

#12 Seeds:

VCU – Led the nation in steals per game – a full 1.07 steals per game ahead of the next best tournament team. Also led nation in steals per turnover, thanks to being the 28th most turnover free team in the nation. That Shaka Smart is pretty good.

Long Beach State – Played the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation. Combining that with playing in the Big West is like going from the UFC to WWE back to UFC. Can Long Beach pull off the Ken Shamrock? It is almost St. Patrick’s Day, after all. What the hell am I talking about?

California – Cal went 1-5 against tournament teams, with the 5 losses coming by an average of 16.2 points per game, and the win (and 2 of the losses) only coming against tournament teams because Colorado somehow won the Pac-12 tourney. Now I totally understand why Drexel and Seton Hall didn’t get in. Oh wait. No I don’t. Jackasses.

South Florida – At 59.2 points per game, the Bulls are the lowest scoring team in the tournament.

Harvard – Attempted the fewest number of field goals per game of all teams in the tournament. I, uh, don’t know what this means, but I really thought that award would go to Wisconsin.

#13 Seeds:

New Mexico State – Attempted more free throws than any other team in the nation. By 106. If they weren’t tied for 254th in the nation in FT%, perhaps they would’ve won more games.

Davidson – Only one team won @ Kansas this season. You’re looking at them. Also lost by 4 to Vanderbilt and hung with Duke more than the 13 point difference indicates. All I’m going to say is that the strongest 13 seed is playing the weakest 4 seed.

Ohio – Around 6:30 on Sunday, with 3 of the 4 regions announced and Georgetown as a 3 and Ohio as a 14 in my book, I may have gotten a little too excited about a potential rematch from 2 years ago. At one point in late January, I had 4 MAC teams on my list of 100 potential at-larges. This is a better team from a better conference than you may think.

Montana – Did you know they play basketball in Montana? This is fascinating information.

#14 Seeds:

South Dakota State – Forget about Northwestern! The Jackrabbits have never made the tournament before. And they didn’t play a single tournament team during the regular season. A win over Baylor would certainly be unexpected.

BYU – 17th in the nation in assists per turnover. Leads the nation in Mormons per square mile.

Iona – Scott Machado leads the nation in assists per game (9.9). At least it shouldn’t be a sloppy opening round game.

Belmont – 4th in the nation in scoring, 5th in the nation in assists, and still dying to get the first win in school history that they should’ve had against Duke a few years ago. Wouldn’t be the first time Georgetown lost to a 14 seed.

Saint Bonaventure – An Italian medieval scholastic theologian and philosopher. Canonized on April 14, 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV and declared a Doctor of the Church in the year 1588. The school, meanwhile, hasn’t won a game in the NCAA tournament since 1970.

#15 Seeds:

Lehigh – Highest FT% of any tournament team. This is the part where the Duke haters cry, “Too bad the refs won’t let them shoot any free throws!” Also, CJ McCollum has the most steals per game of players in the tournament, and Duke doesn’t exactly have a point guard.

Norfolk State – Kyle O’Quinn averages a 16-10 for the Spartans, and he’ll have no hope against Ricardo Ratliffe.

Detroit – Believe me when I say the Horizon League won’t be represented in the National Championship Game, Final Four, Elite Eight, Sweet Sixteen, or Round of 32 this year.

Loyola (MD) – This is only Loyola’s 2nd trip to the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t figure to last any longer than the first one.

#16 Seeds:

Mississippi Valley State – After starting the season 1-11 with an average margin of “victory” in the non-conference of -17.92 points per game, they finished the season 20-1. Doesn’t mean they’re any good, that’s just how much the SWAC sucks.

Western Kentucky – At 15-18 with an RPI rank of 189, the Hilltoppers are clearly the 68th best team in the country. They’ll inevitably win their opening round game against MVSU, because that’s just the way it goes.

LIU-Brooklyn – The Blackbirds were the 3rd highest scoring team during the season. Also, a 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed.

Lamar – 6-0 since we all found out Pat Knight is coaching there, but 0-4 against tournament teams.

Vermont – The Catamounts were 0-5 against tournament teams – none of which received an 8 seed or better.

UNC-Asheville – Make 6.46 three-pointers per game. They might want to make 16 to have a shot against Syracuse.

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