NCAA Tournament: What To Watch For

Cincinnati boasts the 2nd best defense in the country (trailing only Virginia). They force you into terrible shots and they disrupt the ball. Watch the video below to see the secret behind their high TO Rate/Deflection count.

The names change, but every single year Gonzaga has a big or 2 that sprints his butt off in transition and ducks in for early-clock post-ups. This year its Jonathan Williams or Rui Hachimura and they’re both terrific at it. Their post-ups get them deep position or collapse the defense for Gonzaga’s wings.

It’s debatable, but I’d put Villanova, Davidson and Michigan as the 3 most fundamental teams in the field. You can see Nova’s attention to detail in how their players feed the post. Simple skill, but an absolute thing of beauty when executed perfectly. How about how everyone on their roster can post-feed with both hands?

The next screen Michigan’s Moritz Wagner sets will be the first. He’s a slipping fool and his “Ghost Screens” drove the Big 10 mad this year.

We played UMBC in early December and I was amazed at just how well head coach Ryan Odom had the ball zipping around. I didn’t see a team all year who punched the paint and sprayed it as well as the Retrievers.

There’s not a coach in the country that does a better job of scheming his players open on baseline-out plays than Xavier’s Chris Mack. The Musketeers operate exclusively out of a 4-flat set. Look below for their full series. Pay attention to how they move their guys around to different spots.

The most lethal action in the Patriot League during my two years has been a Zach Thomas/Nana Foulland Hi/Lo look. Bucknell gets to this three different ways: their Secondary break, Thomas flashing to the top of the key within Bucknell’s motion whenever Foulland is fronted, and out of roll/replace action.

St. Bonaventure’s Mark Schmidt is one of the best set-play coaches in the country and he showed off the whole repertoire Tuesday night in the Bonnnies “First 4” win over UCLA.

Statistical Matchups:

-The best unit matchup? Nevada’s O versus Texas D. Both units rank 10th respectively in Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rating.

-Montana won the Big Sky with an excellent defense and an offense that generated shots at the rim at a high level (25th nationally with 43.3% of their field goal attempts coming inside the restricted area). They face Michigan in the first round who has gone through a defensive renaissance of sorts. Michigan’s biggest defensive strength this year was keeping the ball away from the rim with only 24.3% of their opponents’ field goal attempts around the basket. Pay attention to the first 10 minutes of this game and monitor where the Grizzlies’ shots are coming from.

-Looking for a game within a game? Kentucky is an elite offensive rebounding team (7th nationally in Offensive Rebound %) while Davidson ranks 18th in Defensive Rebounding %. On the year, Kentucky has gotten 35.6% of their misses back. St. Bonaventure is the only team that’s been able to collect 1/3 of their misses back against Davidson since Christmas.

-Florida is 35th nationally in the % of their field goal attempts occurring in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. Their EFG% on those shots? 54.7%. Shots outside that time frame? 49.7%. Their first-round opponent is St. Bonaventure whose transition D ranks 22nd nationally with only 19.6% of their opponents’ field goal attempts coming in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock.

-Something has to give when Purdue and Cal State Fullerton square off Friday afternoon. No team in the country boasted a higher free throw rate than Cal State Fullerton (Kyle Allman, Khalil Ahmad, and Jackson Rowe all attempted 100+ free throws on the year). Purdue was 7th nationally in not fouling. Heavy are the heads that carry the whistles on Fullerton’s possessions.

-Expect balls to be flying all over the gym Thursday night in Dallas when Texas Tech and Stephen F. Austin meet up. Kyle Keller’s SFA squad leads the country in Turnover % while Chris Beard’s Red Raiders rank 16th. Neither team takes care of the ball very well either (SFA: 311th, Texas Tech: 158th). Note, however, that in their 3 games against West Virginia (#2 in the country in Turnover %), Texas Tech did a masterful job of taking care of the ball (36 total turnovers in 3 games)

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