March Madness: 16 Stats to Know for the Sweet 16
Sure, the NCAA Tournament hasn't really been the most exciting one in history, but we've had some intriguing win probability graphs emerge on numberFire Live nonetheless. We've also seen some stellar individual performances from players among the final 68 squads throughout the first weekend.
But we're inevitably down to the final 16, bittersweet as it may be.
Two games does not a sample make, yet why not dig into some interesting stats about each team left standing in the Sweet 16?
Duke Has Shot 40.9% From Three-Point Range
By comparison, entering the tournament, they shot just 30.2% from beyond the arc, ranking them 339th in the nation (out of more than 350 teams). Of course it's a small sample, but Duke has averaged 22.0 three-point attempts in the tournament, shooting at least 19 in each game. R.J. Barrett (4 of 7, 57.1%), Cam Reddish (5 of 10, 50.0%), and Zion Williamson (4 of 9, 44.4%) have all chipped in to the improved deep ball. Tre Jones (1 of 10, 10.0%) keeps the attempts flowing, despite shooting 23.2% from deep on the season. Shooters shoot.
Virginia Tech Leads Remaining Teams in Free Throw Attempt Rate
Getting to the line has been a key for the Virginia Tech Hokies' Sweet 16 run. They have attempted .410 free throw attempts per field goal attempt, and just one other team (Texas Tech at .385) is better than .365 among remaining teams. They've converted on them, too, shooting freebies at a 79.1% clip. The Hokies were at 76.0% on the season and are a good shooting team all around, boasting a 55.9% effective field goal percentage on the full season. Kerry Blackshear Jr. (17.0 points per game through two contests), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (13.0), and Ahmed Hill (12.0) have balanced out the scoring. Duke's three-point shooting against an efficient team will be a key storyline in the upcoming ACC matchup. numberFire Live gives Virginia Tech a 39% chance to reach the Elite Eight.
Louisiana State Has the Worst Effective Field Goal Percentage Remaining
At 45.6%, the Louisiana State Fighting Tigers have been somewhat fortunate to reach the Sweet 16. They've made up for a lack of shooting efficiency (26.5% from three-point range and 50.0% on two-pointers) by getting to the free-throw line at a solid clip (.349 free throw attempts per field goal attempt, 19th in the full tournament) and hitting 75.0% of them. They also have limited opponents to just a 41.9% effective field goal percentage and an offensive rating of 94.0.
Michigan State Is Shooting 89.2% From the Free Throw Line
Free throws matter when it's a sudden-death format, and the Michigan State Spartans are doing their part to sink them. They rank 24th on the full season in free throw percentage as a team at 75.7%, and they've been crisp through two games on a healthy 37 free throw attempts. Cassius Winston is now at 84.9% on the season and has made all 10 of his attempts so far. Xavier Tillman (8 of 9) and Nick Ward (7 of 8) are also getting it done. Despite the makes at the line, they've dipped to a 32.4% clip from deep. The 38.1% team on the full season (25th-best in the nation) should heat up from long range.
Gonzaga Has an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 60.3%
That leads the Big Dance through two games, and their 125.4 offensive rating is also best. Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke leads all players in average Game Score by a comfortable margin, as he has averaged 24.0 points and 8.0 rebounds to go along with 4.0 blocks. Gonzaga has assisted on 63.1% of their made field goals, second-highest among Sweet 16 teams.
Florida State Has an Offensive Rating of 116.2
That is paired with a defensive rating of 90.3 to give the Florida State Seminoles a net rating of 26.0. They've gotten to the free throw line often, averaging .365 free throw attempts per field goal attempt, good for third among the remaining teams. That's played a big part in their per-possession efficiency -- they've hit 82.6% of their free throw attempts, up from 74.6% on the full season (still good for 46th). Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann are both top-16 in average Game Score.
Texas Tech Has Held Opponents to 82.0 Points Per 100 Possessions
That's third-best in the tournament and is lower than their nation-best 86.9 on the full season. The Texas Tech Red Raiders have also held opponents to a 43.0% effective field goal percentage, 10th-best in the tournament. Tariq Owens (five blocks), Jarrett Culver (four blocks, three steals), and Matt Mooney (seven steals) have done well to create havoc early on. The defensive-minded team is 42% likely to beat Michigan, per numberFire Live.
Michigan Has Assisted on 57.1% of Their Made Field Goals
That ranks third among teams left and ninth overall among tournament teams. Michigan ranks 110th on the full season at 54.4%. The ball movement has helped lead to a 107.7 offensive rating, in line with their 107.5 on the full season. They'll still need to up the efficiency, though, as they're up against that tough Texas Tech defense and have an effective field goal percentage of just 50.9% through two games, 33rd among tournament teams. numberFire Live still likes them to move on at a 58% probability.
Virginia Ranks 62nd in Free Throw Attempt Rate
The Virginia Cavaliers have some odd free throw splits to start the tournament. They haven't gotten to the line frequently, but they've also faced just 10 free throw attempts from opponents through two games. The Cavaliers rank ninth in the tournament in effective field goal percentage offensively and have posted a net rating of 22.4. The Wahoos have a great draw against a 12 seed, Oregon, in the Sweet 16. Virginia owns the best win probability among Sweet 16 teams this round.
Oregon Has Shot 50% From Three-Point Range
And they have an effective field goal percentage of 59.1%, third-highest of all teams. They'll need that hot shooting to continue to knock off the Cavaliers. As a team, the Ducks shot 35.1% from three-point range on the season, so they could have some negative regression coming their way. One thing to note: the Cavaliers have allowed 44.1% of their opponents' field goals to be three-point attempts so far through the tournament's two games. That's a bit up from an already high 41.1%. The elevated attempts are a better indicator of three-point defense than percentage allowed, so this is clearly the Ducks' path to a big upset.
Purdue Has Shot a Three on 56.1% of Their Field Goal Attempts
Purdue's three-point attempt rate has been high all season (45.1%, 35th), but they've cranked it up for the tournament. Their in-tournament three-point attempt rate would rank second-highest in the nation. They've hit on 41.7% of the three-pointers, as well.
Carsen Edwards leads the entire tournament with 68 points (only Zion Williamson also has more than 50), and the opponents have a 37.2% effective field goal percentage against them, the best defensive mark in the tournament. Purdue's 30.5 net rating is fifth-best to start the tournament, yet they sit 43% likely to reach the Elite Eight.
Tennessee Has Allowed 102.0 Points per 100 Possessions
That is second-most among teams left (Auburn has let up 108.3). Against a hot-shooting Purdue squad, the Tennessee Volunteers will have to shore up their defense. Opponents have shot 44.0% against the Vols from deep but just 40.0% on two-point shots. They've let up a lot of three-point attempts, though (a 43.5% three-point attempt rate, which would rank 38th on the full season, for context). They'll have to limit Purdue's perimeter attempts to cash in on a 57% win probability.
North Carolina Has a Rebound Differential of +50
No other team is above +38 (Michigan State), and only one other team is above +28 (Kentucky at +30). On the full season, the North Carolina Tar Heels rank fourth in rebounding rate at 56.8% and have carried that dominance on the glass over to the NCAA Tournament. UNC has also secured an offensive rating of 115.9 through two games. They've proven worthy of their status as a 1 seed for sure.
Auburn Has a Rebound Differential of -26
That's second-lowest among all tournament teams and bad news against a team that can clean the boards like North Carolina can and does. On the full season, Auburn's rebounding rate ranks them just 227th in the nation, so they'll have to focus on boxing out and reducing the possession discrepancy in their Sweet 16 matchup.
More positively, Auburn's 59.7% effective field goal percentage ranks them second in the tournament, and that efficient shooting has helped overcome a possession differential due to rebounding issues.
Houston Has the Largest Point Differential Among Non-1 Seeds
At +44, the Houston Cougars have posted the biggest point differential of any non-1 seed (Gonzaga's +50 is first). That also puts Houston second through two games among all teams, naturally. Houston's net rating (30.9) ranks them fourth, and they've stacked up well with the best of the best from an advanced stats profile through two games on the big stage. They've swiped a steal on 11.2% of opponent possessions and are +28 in the rebounding column, tying them for the fourth-best rebounding differential. That's key against Kentucky.
Kentucky Has Held Opponents to a 40.8% Effective Field Goal Percentage
That ranks third-best in the tournament and is paired with a defensive rating of 80.6, best in the tournament. Kentucky also has a +30 rebound differential to rank them third. They've done well to hinder opponents through two games, including an elite offense in the Wofford Terriers. We'll be granted a matchup between two top-10 caliber defenses in this game, which actually favors the Houston Cougars 51% of the time. First to 65 wins.