Monday, March 28, 2005

End of Season State of the Jayhawks

Losing, to Bucknell or any other school, in the first round is unacceptable. I’m trying not to overreact, but I was a little over a year old the last time this happened.

What I can do is place this loss in the context of the other excruciating tournament losses of my life. In a mixed blessing, last Friday’s game is only the sixth-worst season-ending loss of my conscious life. The top 5:

1) Archie Marshall blowing out his knee and Danny Manning playing the worst game of his career (in a red uniform, no less) against Duke in the National Semifinal, 1986.
T2) The fucking point zone in all its passive glory rolling out the red carpet for Mike Bibby and Juan Dixon, Regional Semifinal 1997 and National Semifinal 2002, respectively.
4) Missed free throws (18) leading to fewer points (3) at the end of regulation of the National Championship game, 2003.
5) Losing, despite the presence of Paul Pierce and Raef LaFrentz in the lineup, in the second round to the Jim Harrick coached Rhode Island Rams in the second round, 1998.

This year's loss most resembles the ’98 loss in that it arrives with the knowledge that the team will return no key contributors, but unlike in March 1998 no reasonable Kansas fan could have expected a tournament run this year. I wish Simien, Miles, Langford, and Lee had ended their careers more happily, but the sadness of their final game doesn’t overshadow the accomplishments of their careers. Simien played the best basketball of his life the final weeks of the season. So did Lee, even contributing half-a-Ryan Robertson in his final game. Miles and Langford both had up-and-down senior seasons. To my eyes, their struggles derived more from attempting to do too much rather than not caring enough. Langford clearly lost a significant portion of the physical ability he demonstrated during his first two seasons. Miles forced too many passes, but made far more jump shots than we had any reason to expect. They both played poorly in their last game. That’s a fair criticism of them as basketball players. To insinuate that they played poorly due to some lack of character or determination insults them as human beings.

Overly optimistic expectations hung over this team all season. Beginning with my own misguided yet representative pre-season picks (Three of my
pre-season final four picks lost in the first (Kansas) or second round (Wake Forest, Georgia Tech). My fourth (Oklahoma State) made the tournament’s second week but was also the only team that couldn't keep Kansas from scoring the last month of the season.) and continuing through the come-from-behind wins against Georgia Tech and at Kentucky when the team was without Simien, this team suffered from being only as good as they were and never as good as we hoped.

Last season, some Kansas fans treated David Padgett’s struggles to adjust to college basketball as morally offensive. A skinny seven-footer who alternated between being pushed around and making over-zealous, obvious attempts at pushing back, Padgett left for reasons other than fan bile (the coaching change, bad parenting), but it was unfair for him to be labeled a useless failure after his freshman season. He will not be the fourth best player in his high school class, but he will be useful at Louisville over the next three years.

Coming into this season the consensus on JR Giddens was that if he continued to make 40% of his three-pointers, finish in transition, and diversified his offensive game, he’d have the opportunity to be a lottery pick. No one thought that he’d be a finished product, just that the Association would value a more polished JR Smith highly. This year Giddens improved his defense and rebounding (from non-existent to mediocre), attempted to diversify his offensive game (mostly unsuccessfully), and shot miserably. Though he looked frustrated as he missed shot after shot in the last month of the season, I never saw Giddens sulk or stop trying. He appears to be both a passionate and immature player. He is now regarded as something close to an enemy of the state by those who celebrated Padgett’s transfer.

It’s not as if this year’s team lacked for legitimate things to criticize and celebrate. This was not an especially good team. It would be difficult to claim any member as a superb defender or categorize any player’s offensive game as multi-faceted. Outside of Simien, the team lacked a competent rebounder. Despite those limitations, the team generally played effective man-to-man defense, made baskets on big possessions, and broke even on the glass.

The overreaction both to the team’s 20-1 start and its 3-6 finish exasperate me. Many have decried the team’s general lack of effort, but I think that’s misinterpreted the revelation of the players’ limitations. If the Giddens detractors hadn’t lobbied for Michael Lee as a suitable replacement one could have regarded their complaints as hyperbolic rather than imbecilic.

I discussed the seniors and Giddens above. Examining the rest of the team in retrospect, Moody played more and played better than I expected. The paired half-seasons of Robinson and Hawkins contributed as much as could be expected from a fifth guard. The freshmen big men did not contribute as much as I hoped, but I think my expectations for them (as freshmen) were lower than most and a healthy Giles might have made a difference.
Some Kansas fans seem only to remember Roy Williams’ last two teams and his two best recruiting classes. Williams should get credit for bringing in the Gooden/Hinrich/Collison class (some would accurately remind us that both Iowa and Iowa State took themselves out of the race for the state’s co-players of the year, but Williams recruited Gooden, the non-McDonald’s All-American of the troika, before anyone else realized how good he could be) and the Simien/Miles/Langford class two years later but those classes were not the norm. Williams did not sign a single impact player in any other class after 1995 (Paul Pierce). Only during the two years when those two classes overlapped did the type of basketball so many long for exist. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, too. But it was hardly a constant in our lives as fans and it didn’t result in a national championship. That lack of a championship coupled with the pain of Williams’ departure has left a residual bitterness with a portion of the Jayhawk Nation that threatens to poison the future of the program. There would have been far less dissent had Williams left for Carolina after either the 1999 or 2000 seasons. No magical, up-tempo “brand of basketball” existed for teams built around Eric Chenowith (neither Duke nor Kansas won the great Chenowith/Chris Burgess recruiting battle) and Kenny Gregory. The Kansas basketball program misses Hinrich, Collison, and Gooden far more than it misses Roy Williams.

My objection to the complaints about the style of play of the last two years is not absolute. I prefer watching and rooting for up-tempo ball myself. My problem is that those '99 and '00 teams struggled to score a lot and were not led by players who had been integral parts of both conference championship and final four teams.As much as Miles, Langford, and Simien frustrated me at times as basketball players, and despite my distant ignorance of them as human beings, I quite like them and never found it an effort to root for them win or lose. I couldn't honestly say the same thing about the '99 and '00 teams.

Next year’s team will likely suffer the indignity of playing on Thursday at the Big 12 tournament but the pieces of a (potentially) strong 2007 are being assembled.

Only the least critical amongst us would classify the performance of this year’s freshman class as consistently useful. However all five demonstrated the potential to become useful role players in the future. Not role players in the sense that Christian Moody or Michael Lee were role players on this year’s team (less bad than everyone else), but players with a specific skill that helps win basketball games. CJ Giles (shot blocker) could become Marcus Camby without the extra benefits. Darnell Jackson (rebounder) could become a punctual Jeff Graves. Russell Robinson (defense) could become a miniature Alonzo Jamison. Alex Galindo (standstill shooter) could become a healthy Greg Gurley. Sasha Kaun, well, he looks like he’s only been playing basketball for three years, but he’s tall and not completely spastic. He could become Greg Dreiling. I highly doubt all five will maximize my hopes for them, but if two or three do and the next two recruiting classes contain impact players that can make use of the current players' particular skills, Kansas could be contending again as early as 2007.

I intend to demonstrate some patience with the program as Self rebuilds, but I can't pretend that not having an example of a Bill Self program isn't slightly uncomfortable. Unless I am mistaken, his last Tulsa team is the only team made up entirely of his own players that he's coached. If he’s attempting to build a similar team here (with the better players available through recruiting), I'm all for it.As much as Self's willingness to try different things seemed to manifest resourcefulness, none of the things he tried really worked all that well. Of course, ideally, the head coach would both have a plan and the ability to adjust that plan as circumstances dictate.It seems to me that Self is attempting (but has certainly has not succeeded yet) in putting together teams that more closely resemble the '91-'93 Kansas teams that were talented (though not as talented as the '02-'03 teams), efficient in the half-court, dangerous in the open court, and solid defensively. Widely and wildly mis-perceived as plodding half-court teams, they were fun teams for which to root.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Inside Thursday's Boxscores

Poss/40 = Possessions per 40 minutes
eFG% = (FGM+((1/2)*3PM))/FGA
FGA/FTA = Field goal attempts per free throw attempt
OR% (Offensive Rebound Pct) = OR/(OR+oppDR)
DR% (Defensive Rebound Pct) = DR/(DR+oppOR)
TO% (Turnover Pct) = TO/Possessions
PPP = Points per possession


EKY 67.6 49.230.554.55.437.17125.10.95
KY 66.9 52.921.669.222962.920.91.08

IOWA 64.5 38.128.8762.437.27517.10.99
CIN 65.2 55.331.659.12.62562.812.31.16

NIAG 79.3 39.741.286.74.524.46520.20.84
OU 80.3 4817.686.74.93575.617.41.05

UTEP 61.8 43.41788.95.916.753.116.20.87
UTAH 60.4 4949602.446.983.329.80.99

FDU 63.6 43.928.
ILL 62.8 48.138.971.42.622.959.512.71.07

NEV 61.6 39.522.666.73.437.271.7130.99
TEX 62.5 3914.766.711.328.362.880.91

PENN 76.2 42.342.3507.132.769.222.30.85
BC 73.5 65.423.1682.130.867.325.91.16

UWMIL 60.8 644267.91.826.753.811.51.37
ALA 63.7 6146753.146.273.329.81.15

UTST 59.2 42.734.5605.533.36920.30.90
AZ 58.6 53.128.677.82.73166.718.81.13

UAB 78.1 51.727.158.31.629.76019.21.05
LSU 78.2 40.648.472.72.94070.326.80.87

PITT 66.6 49.23972.23.328.666.7151.07
PAC 66.7 56.436.473.92.433.371.4181.19

MON 74.4 57.730.8258.134.37024.21.04
WASH 74.2 62.932.868.22.63065.721.61.19

CREI 62.5 504084.63.832.36827.20.98
WVU 59.5 56.543.584.63.53267.726.91.06

CHATT 66.8 46.238.566.75.833.361.532.90.81
WAKE 66.8 48.348.366.72.838.566.722.41.05

UCLA 71.3 48.333.353.3422.28518.20.93
TT 69.7 64.413.568.83.21577.820.11.12

WIN 68 4543.383.3525.670.319.10.94
GONZ 67.2 5027.168.22.729.774.414.91.10

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Early Update

4-0 after the early games. As far as picking winners. Recommending that Kenutcky was safe laying 16.5 points seems sort of misguided in retrospect. Both UW-Milwaukee and Pacific came through (the public had bet up Pittsburgh enough that prices were better than +160 for Pacific last night) which is nice as I have them winning one more round each.

RECAP: sides 0-2, totals 0-0, moneyline 2-0 (+3.4)

When the box scores are out I'll take a look at how the winners won. Might not be up until tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

For Entertainment Purposes Only--Tournament Edition

A handy, dandy recap of theoretical wagers.


Duke/Delaware State over 131
Syracuse/Vermont under 138.5
Niagara +12.5 against Oklahoma
Regular Kentucky -16.5 against Eastern Kentucky
Iowa State +1 against Minnesota
Northern Iowa +280 against Wisconsin
Wisconsin/Northern Iowa over 126
Central Florida +18 against UConn
Pacific +160 against Pittsburgh
Louisville -11.5 against Louisiana-Lafayette
Creighton +125 against West Virginia
West Virginia/Creighton over 135
UW-Milwaukee +180 against Alabama
LSU/UAB over 152
Arizona/Utah State under 139
Oklahoma State/SE Louisiana over 125

Louisville 30-1 to win the tournament
Michigan State 40-1 to win the tournament

Predictions--Final Four


Considering these are the teams I picked to advance, it should be no surprise that I expect to see a couple of classics on the first Saturday in April.

Louisville and Arizona are roughly even when it comes to rebounding and ball-handling with Louisville being slightly more effective shooting and forcing opponents into difficult shots. Louisville gets to the free throw line more often than does Arizona while also shooting more threes.

The Cardinals will have options when it comes to guarding Salim Stoudamire, essentially the Wildcats' lone perimeter threat. (Both Shakur and McClellan shoot a good percentage but average less than one made three per game). Arizona will need Hassan Adams to shut down Francisco Garcia to have a chance to win. That, in and of itself, won't guarantee an Arizona victory, but it's difficult to imagine Louisville losing if Garcia plays well.

Michigan State will go small and strong. UConn will counter with a big, athletic lineup. Michigan State wants to slow the game down. UConn struggles to score at times in their half-court offense. The excellent Marcus Williams sometimes turns the ball over too much and the Spartans are good at forcing turnovers. UConn's front line should neutralize the rebounding advantage Michigan State possesses against most teams. I'll take talent over experience every time, but when talent (and coaching) cancels itself out, I place a slender importance on veteran-ness.


I think Louisville will win the national championship because they can both score and defend. Only Illinois, Arizona, and Florida have demonstrated similar ability on both sides of the ball against all competition. Obviously at most one of Arizona and Illinois can make the Final Four and Florida faces a difficult road. Louisville's region is filled with teams who can win one way: by outscoring the opposition. Pitino has assembled his usual flexible collection of talent which should only magnify the coaching advantage he has over Romar, Prosser, Few, and Hewitt. Not to belittle those coaches (though I do have reservations about the likelihood of long-term success for Romar and Prosser), but Pitino's the best coach in college basketball.

Louisville has had some poor rebounding games (the loss to Iowa in Maui, wins at home against Charlotte and Cincinnati), and that appears to be the most likely way they'll lose. But though both Washington and Wake Forest are good rebounding teams, they allow points with almost as much ease as does Charlotte who outrebounded the Cardinals and still lost.

Nobody's much a favorite to win the tournament. Anybody betting on Illinois at 13:5 or North Carolina at 7:2 to win is just a sucker. I wouldn't take any one region at 7:2 much less a team. Louisville seems to me to have the fewest weaknesses but a lot can change over the next three weeks.

Predictions--Austin Region


It would behoove CBS to have the tournament records for both three-pointers made and highest three-point percentage in a game handy before Duke takes the floor against Delaware State. OVER 131.

Dan Grunfeld's out, but Mississippi State still hasn't replaced Tim Bowers. Stanford will only need to score about 65 points to advance.

Old Dominion could give Michigan State fits. Bear in mind that had the Spartans converted a handful of their fifteen missed free throws against Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament, they'd be a super-trendy final four pick.

Taylor Coppenrath should get his, but TJ Sorrentine's shooting will determine how much Vermont troubles Syracuse. Against Kansas and North Carolina he shot 32% from the floor. UNDER 138.5.

The most troubling evenly matched first round game pits UTEP against Utah. In a slow, low-scoring tilt, UTEP should take advantage of Utah's propensity to turn the ball over while the Utes dominate the glass. It'll come down to a couple of shots either way or how well Andrew Bogut shoots free throws.

Niagara has the best chance to pull a major upset in the first round. If they can dictate an up-tempo game, that will minimize Oklahoma's frontcourt advantage. If Kelvin Sampson gets the game he wants (wherein the officials wilt at his implicit dare to call as many fouls as the Sooners commit), Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray will carry the day. NIAGARA +12.5.

You couldn't pay me to watch to Cincinnati and Iowa play. Okay, you could, but you'd have to let me on air to make constant fun of Steve Alford (hair, suit, coaching) and Bob Huggins (hair, windshirt, coaching, graduation rate), criticize both the quality and style of play and point out that not just the basketball is ugly. These programs attract some unattractive young men. The number of players who foul out will be greater than the margin of victory.

Regular Kentucky will dispatch Eastern Kentucky with ease. Tubby Smith's team has real weaknesses: scoring and rebounding, but the unlikelihood of them winning the tournament seems to have altered the line on this game. REGULAR KENTUCKY -16.5.


Duke might not have to break much of a sweat in their second round game either. I guess Stanford might hang around in this likely half-court game.

I think Michigan State and Syracuse are the two best teams in this region. Rebounding will prove decisive as Michigan State's offensive advantage neutralizes Syracuse's defensive advantage.

The added chance of Oklahoma losing in the first round has me (grudgingly) placing Utah in the sweet sixteen. Utah could conceivably make it to the regional final without scoring more than 60 points in any game.

I wouldn't be shocked if Cincinnati snuck past Kentucky. It will likely be a low-scoring game, but I'll go with Tubby Smith and Patrick Sparks over Bob Huggins and Jihad Muhammad on critical possessions.


There's a decent chance that Shelden Williams will reduce Paul Davis to tears at some point during the game, but Michigan State's guards are better than Duke's. JJ Redick can make all the free throws pretty as he pleases, but Anderson, Ager, Brown, and Torbert will physically dominate Redick, Ewing, Nelson, and Melchionni.

Kentucky's the most likely to advance from the ugly half of the region, but Bogut could put Utah on his back. Honestly, would it have killed the committee to put Gonzaga, Creighton, or West Virginia in the bottom half of this bracket to liven things up?


Michigan State is better than any team in the bottom half of the region. Duke and Syracuse are too. Kentucky or whoever comes out of the bottom half will have to deal with the shocking fact basketball teams can score 70 (or even more) points in a single game.

Predictions--Syracuse Region


I watched the play-in game last night (and picked it correctly). North Carolina will kill Oakland. Expect career highs for Quentin Thomas across the board.

Iowa State is awfully mediocre and still clearly better than Minnesota. IOWA STATE +1.

I'm glad Villanova got paired against a good four seed. Florida's presence diminishes the Wildcats chances of advancing deep in the tournament. I see the prospects of this game as follows: Villanova wins by 1-10 points: 40%; Villanova wins by 11+ points: 25%; New Mexico wins: 35%.

Florida is playing really well. Ohio has poor defensive numbers for the season. This one could get out of hand.

Wisconsin plays good defense, but struggles to score against everyone other than Iowa. Northern Iowa is average at best defensively, but they've scored against everybody they've played. NORTHERN IOWA TO WIN AT +280 and OVER 126.

Bucknell won't manage 65 points against Kansas. It might be the last ugly win of the year for the Jayhawks.

NC State is bad defensively. Charlotte's worse. Potentially a rare low-possession yet high-scoring game.

UConn's strengths are field goal percentage defense and rebounding. They might not score enough to put Central Florida away early, but there's little danger they'll lose. CENTRAL FLORIDA +18.


Iowa State's matchup zone will slow North Carolina down but not enough to make a difference.

Before the season started Jay Wright might have made the short list of coaches I thought were even worse than Billy Donovan. Both have had good years, but Villanova has been maddeningly inconsistent. Florida may be the best defensive team in the tournament.

Kansas would have few problems with Wisconsin. Northern Iowa is dangerous, especially if Langford's mobility is seriously limited.

UConn will take NC State apart.


Okay, here's how it's going to work in Syracuse: CBS will hype the potential Kansas-North Carolina in an increasingly annoying passive-aggressive manner ("You don't want to look ahead this time of year, blah blah blah.") until neither team plays in the regional final then Nantz will beat us over the head (and ignore the Florida/UConn game) with this gem: "Who would have thought that neither Kansas or North Carolina would be in this game?" I did, Jim. I also believe you want to have sex with Fred Couples.


At the end of the day, in an extremely even matchup, I can't bring myself to pick Billy Donovan and Matt Walsh. UConn over Florida in the ugliest regional final since Kansas-Syracuse '96.

Predictions--Albuquerque Region


Washington will run past Montana.

Pacific is a pretty good matchup for Pittsburgh, but the Panthers, with their propensity both to turn the ball over and miss free throws, aren't especially well-suited for pulling out close games. PACIFIC TO WIN AT +160.

The conventional wisdom surrounding Georgia Tech and their prospects for advancing deep in the tourney have me perplexed. Yes, they're better with BJ Elder playing, but Will Bynum still takes/forces to many shots and they have demonstrated the ability to play good offense and defense on the same day. The Yellow Jackets are a little better than George Washington, but neither team will get past Louisville.

Louisville, the only team in this region to have demonstrated an ability to play defense, will make quick work of Louisiana-Lafayette. LOUISVILLE -11.5.

UCLA belongs in the group of major conference teams that received credit for who they played without regard for how they played against those teams along with Minnesota, Mississippi State, Iowa, and Cincinnati. Texas Tech had been wildly inconsistent this year (sort of Villanova without as much upside), but will more likely than not handle the young Bruins.

Gonzaga's defensive deficiencies will not be exposed by Winthrop though the Eagles might slow the game down enough to keep things close for a half.

I like Creighton to out shoot West Virginia. CREIGHTON TO WIN AT +125 and OVER 135.

Chattanooga represents no threat to Wake Forest.


I think Washington deserved their one seed. I think that if Pacific can break even rebounding against the Huskies, they'll win.

Louisville is a four seed because the committee recognized how poor Conference USA was this year. (An item they seemed to forget when slotting UAB in the bracket.) The Cardinals are strong in every phase of the game save rebounding, but Georgia Tech won't be able to take advantage of that as they're a slightly worse team on the glass.

Somebody from the bottom half of this region is getting to the final eight without having to play any defense. Turiaf and Morrison should pull Gonzaga past Texas Tech. Creighton presents a dangerous matchup (as would West Virginia, both teams could take advantage of the Deacons' poor perimeter defense) for Wake Forest, but the Bluejays are unlikely to defend or rebound enough to knock them off.


Louisville will frustrate a game Pacific team in a game that will likely mirror the Tigers' loss to Kansas in the second round last year (nip-and-tuck for 30-32 minutes before the better team pulls away).

Gonzaga and Wake Forest would be an entertaining, high-scoring affair. I have the Zags advancing simply because they're more likely to make it to the Sweet 16 than are the Deacons.


Louisville is the most complete team in the region. They'll guard Gonzaga forcing missed shots and turnovers. The Zags will not be able to do either of those things to Louisville.

Predictions--Chicago Region


Illinois will score a lot of points and handle Farleigh Dickinson easily.

Texas will pack it in defensively against Nevada and slow down the Wolfpack offense but the Longhorns will not be able to score quite enough points to win.

UW-Milwaukee looked bad offensively against Kansas and Wisconsin earlier this year, but Alabama doesn't play defense as well as those two schools. Neither the Jayhawks nor the Badgers scored easily in those games, however, and Alabama has struggled against good teams away from home down the stretch. UW-MILWAUKEE TO WIN AT +180.

Boston College isn't especially good but they're better than Penn.

UAB has no business being in the tournament, but their stay will be brief. LSU will out-run the Blazers and take the score well OVER 152.

On paper, Utah State appears dangerous. I like their chances of dictating a slower tempo than Arizona would prefer but not their chances of winning. UNDER 139.

Neither Southern Illinois nor St. Mary's score especially efficiently. Darren Brooks will likely make the difference in a close, hard-fought game.

It won't matter if SE Louisiana succeeds in slowing the tempo against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are too good offensively. OVER 125.


Illinois will be glad to see Nevada rather than Texas in the second round. Neither has much of chance against the Illini, but Brad Buckman has the potential to cause problems.

UW-Milwaukee will grind out an ugly win against Boston College while Bruce Pearl yells like a maniac. First team to 55 wins.

Don't be surprised if Arizona beats LSU by a larger margin than they do Utah State. The Tigers are neither equipped to control the pace nor beat the Wildcats in an up-tempo game.

Southern Illinois has the potential to knock off Oklahoma State, but it will likely take someone outscoring the Cowboys to eliminate them.


Illinois is far too good to be slowed by UW-Milwaukee. The Panthers will give a good effort but be unable to bridge the talent gap.

Hassan Adams is Joey Graham's worst nightmare. Oklahoma State will struggle to control Channing Frye inside, and, though John Lucas may well have his way with Mustafa Shakur, Arizona advances.


Arizona has the personnel to slow down (not stop) the Illinois guards and make them work defensively. I think the relative weakness of the Illini's frontcourt has been overstated, there's no big man in the Big Ten as good as Channing Frye.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Play-In Prediction

In the interests of thoroughness, I'll pick Oakland tonight for the following reasons.

1) The Mid-Con is a better conference than the SWAC.
2) Oakland played Illinois and Michigan State tougher than Alabama A&M played UAB.

I could not in good conscience recommend laying the 6 1/2 points or messing with the total.

Monday, March 14, 2005

NCAA Tournament Preview

(Brief) team previews by region, to be followed by predictions on Wednesday.

A glossary of terms and formulae:

Poss/40 = Possessions per 40 minutes
eFG% = (FGM+((1/2)*3PM))/FGA
OR% (Offensive Rebound Pct) = OR/(OR+oppDR)
DR% (Defensive Rebound Pct) = DR/(DR+oppOR)
TO% (Turnover Pct) = TO/Possessions
PPP = Points per possession

Austin Region

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Duke 69.4 52.442.437.963.119.522.41.140.93
vs.Tourney 68.5 54.245.535.160.219.719.91.151.04

Duke played 36.5% of their games against tournament teams (Michigan St, Oklahoma, NC State (2), Wake Forest (2), Georgia Tech (3), North Carolina (2)). Though their rebounding and defensive efficiency slipped against better opponents, Duke maintained their offensive efficiency against all manner of competition.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Kentucky 66.8 51.646.536.466.119.426.91.100.92
vs.Tourney 67.6 49.248.829.464.517.724.91.041.01

Kentucky played 33.6% of their games against tournament competition (North Carolina, Louisville, Kansas, LSU (2), Florida (3), Mississisppi St, Alabama). Kentucky maintained their ability both to create turnovers and not to turn the ball over themselves against their better opponents. Everything else suffered. Against non-tournament teams, Kentucky shot 1 FT for every 2.5 FGA and their non-tournament opponents attempted one free throw for every 3.8 FGA. Against tournament teams, Kentucky only shot 1 FT for every 3.3 FGA and their opponents shot one for every 2.5 FGA.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Oklahoma 66.2 54.246.438.567.620.823.81.140.95
vs.Tourney 66 51.748.638.567.120.8201.081.04

Oklahoma played 41.8% of their games against tournament teams (Washington, Minnesota, Duke, UConn, Texas (2), Oklahoma St (2), Iowa St, Texas Tech (3), Kansas). Most of Oklahoma's slippage in offensive and defensive efficiency against tournament teams can be traced to the free throw line. Oklahoma shot one free throw for every 3.2 FGA (and made only 63% of those free throws) while their tournament-bound opponents shot one free throw for every 2.4 FGA (and made 71.6% of those).

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Syracuse 66.3 52.645.540.663.520.
vs.Tourney 66.6 45.546.43858.41821.71.031.06

Syracuse played 33.2% of their games against tournament teams (Mississippi St, Oklahoma St, W. Virginia (2), Pittsburgh (2), UConn (3), Villanova, Boston College). The Orange's shooting and rebounding numbers took a significant hit against tournament teams. One which extended to their free throw shooting (66.4% overall--62.7% against tournament teams). Boeheim's zone remained difficult to score off and continued to force turnovers but better opponents had a higher volume of attempts to score thanks to offensive rebounds.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
MichiganSt 66.1 55.74938.772.620.923.61.180.96
vs.Tourney 66.1 53.349.834.269.720.821.91.121.02

Michigan State played 46.2% of their games against tournament teams (Duke, George Washington, Stanford, Delaware St, UCLA, Wisconsin (2), Minnesota (2), Oakland, Illinois, Iowa (2)). Michigan State's field goal shooting, rebounding, and turnovers forced all took slight hits against tournament opposition, but generally maintained their performance level.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Utah 59.5 56.448.540.675.123.820.21.160.96
vs.Tourney 57.7 50.554.337.767.625.1181.031.14

Utah played 18.8% of their games against tournament teams (Washington, Utah St, Arizona, New Mexico (3)). Other than the blowout at Utah State, Utah played their tournament opponents reasonably close. Their only win, though, came at home against New Mexico. The Utes turn the ball over a lot and don't guard especially well.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Cincinnati 68.1 49.642.839.66519.620.91.110.94
vs.Tourney 67.4 44.247.337.867.72017.91.021.04

Cincinnati played 26.4% of their games against tournament teams (Illinois, Louisville (2), Charlotte (2), Wake Forest, UAB, Northern Iowa). Several games featured mighty offensive struggles for the Bearcats: 32 eFG% against Illinois, 41 eFG% at Louisville, 43 eFG% (and 30.6 TO%) against UAB's porous defense, 31.5 eFG% against Northern Iowa. If Cincinnati doesn't maintain their ability to shoot 1 free throw for every 2.2 FGA, they won't score enough to win.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Stanford 67.8 47.247.334.965.720.721.91.031.00
vs.Tourney 69.5 49.748.434.663.220.721.51.051.04

Stanford played 33.2% of their games against tournament teams (Louisville, Michigan St, Montana, Washington (3), Arizona (2), UCLA (2)). The Cardinal maintained their mediocrity in all recorded situations.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
MississippiSt 67.9 49.546.840.770.622.3201.070.96
vs.Tourney 68.8 43.751.4356721.920.30.941.07

Mississippi State played 31.3% of their games against tournament teams (Syracuse, St. Mary's, Arizona, Alabama (2), LSU (2), Florida (2), Kentucky). They beat St. Mary's in MSG and Florida in Starkville. Everything else ended badly for the Bulldogs. Turns out I was right: they really miss Tim Bowers.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Iowa 67.5
vs.Tourney 68.4 48.647.13168.320.819.31.031.02

Iowa played 43.6% of their games against tournament teams (Louisville, Texas, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Iowa St, Texas Tech, Minnesota (2), Illinois (2), Michigan St (2), Wisconsin (2)). Pierre Pierce isn't missed because his points were only about a wash with all his missed shots and turnovers. The Hawkeyes are better than Minnesota but they're not very good. They didn't even play very well in the Big 10 tournament.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
UTEP 66.1 51.64934.168.218.522.71.140.98
vs.Tourney 66.5 49.447.232.663.123.323.21.011.01

UTEP played 17.9% of their games against tournament teams (Delaware St, S. Illinois, Texas Tech, Nevada (2), Pacific). The Miners struggled to score against those teams, but didn't allow points easily despite being outrebounded on the whole. Those offensive numbers against tournament teams are inflated by the Delaware State game.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
ODU 65.7 49.845.73468.818.425.41.080.90

Old Dominion didn't play a tournament team. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain that defensive performance against Michigan State.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Vermont 65.1 51.646.634.
vs.Tourney 69.7 46.250.630.363.222.518.20.911.16

Vermont played at Kansas, at North Carolina, and at Nevada. Certainly not easy games, but Vermont didn't play well in any of them. Half their field goal attempts were three-pointers. Their opponents shot more than twice as many free throws (88 to 41). Only Kansas turned the ball over on more than 18% of their possessions.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
Niagara 70.3 50.951.840.870.817.817.71.191.09
vs.Tourney 67.9 55.857.34081.32523.61.091.06

Niagara lost 76-74 at Bucknell in their only game against a tournament team this year. It's unlikely that Niagara will maintain those rebounding numbers against Oklahoma, but it will be interesting to see if they can force the Sooners into an up-tempo game.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
EKentucky 67.5 53.547.935.46821.622.11.081.00
vs.Tourney 75.5 40.458.127.872.730.515.30.741.22

Eastern Kentucky got killed at Florida and at Louisville this year. They are slated to be similarly outclassed (at a slower pace) against regular Kentucky.

TEAM Poss/40 eFG%opp eFG%OR%DR%TO%opp TO%PPPopp PPP
DelawareSt 60 49.152.933.86223.
vs.Tourney 58.7 50.468.429.360.930.121.40.921.31

Delaware State was soundly beaten at UTEP, at Michigan State, and at Illinois this season. Those three teams found no defensive resistence. If Duke had reserves they could expect to log significant minutes on Friday.