March Madness: 16 Stats to Know for the Sweet 16
Through two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, we've seen some stellar individual and team performances from the 16 teams who are still alive. We should be in store for another stretch of exciting games in the next two rounds.
Let's highlight one statistic from the Big Dance for each of the teams still fighting for this season's crown.
1. Gonzaga Scored 92.5 Points Per Game
Entering the tournament, Gonzaga averaged a nation-leading 92.1 points per game. In the first two games of the NCAA Tournament, the Zags averaged 92.5 points per game. With Gonzaga sporting a roster that boasts nine top-100 high-school recruits, should anyone be surprised? What may be an even crazier number is the fact that Gonzaga allowed Oklahoma to shoot 50% from the field in the second round. It was the first time a Zags opponent did that since Gonzaga's season-opener versus Kansas.
2. Creighton Allowed 60.0 Points Per Game
Creighton came into the Big Dance with a defense that was good but not elite, but they've stymied foes through two games. The Bluejays gave up just 62 points in a one-point win over UCSB in the first round before holding Ohio to 58 points in a comfortable victory in the second round. Of course, Creighton has benefitted from playing a 12 and 13 seed so far. Their defense, which is ranked 32nd by KenPom, is going to get a much bigger test next versus Gonzaga.
3. Baylor Attempted 50 Three-Pointers
In the regular season, Baylor ranked third in scoring, totaling 83.8 points per game. Their scoring has ticked down a bit in two tourney games as the Bears have averaged 77.5 points. What Baylor has done is jack up a bunch of threes. They were 54th in treys attempted per game in the regular season (24.7), and they shot a tournament-high 33 three-pointers against Hartford in the first round, making 11. Against Wisconsin in their second game, Baylor went 8 for 17 from three. They will see a Villanova defense that sits just 71st, per KenPom, and permits a three-point attempt rate of 40.9%, the 57th-highest in the country.
4. Villanova Made 23 Three-Pointers
Villanova shocked everyone by making 15 three-pointers in their game against North Texas in the second round, which came after 'Nova sunk eight triples in their opening tourney game against Winthrop. Villanova was expected to struggle in the tourney due to the absence of Collin Gillespie, but they've won by 10 and 23 points. Their three-point shooting could come in handy against Baylor as the Wildcats try to pull off the upset as 7.5-point underdogs.
5. Opponents Shot Just 27.1% From Three Versus USC
The Mobley brothers led a 34-point demolition of Kansas that few people saw coming. They combined for 27 points and held Kansas to an offensive rating under 75, which had not happened all season. Isaac and Evan both had offensive ratings of more than 130, while Evan also had a defensive rating of 59. The Mobley duo has been amazing, and so has USC's defense, which held Kansas and Drake to a combined 13 for 48 from three-point land.
6. Oregon Totaled 56 First-Half Points Against Iowa
Oregon has played only one game in the tourney, but they made that game count. The Ducks poured in 56 first-half points against Iowa on their way to a 95-point outburst, which was nearly 23 points above their season average. Oregon shot 44.0% from three and 55.9% from the field in the upset over the Hawkeyes. The Ducks will play conference foe USC in the Sweet 16. Their offense wasn't nearly as amazing in their lone game this season versus the Trojans, scoring only 58 points in a loss.
7. Arkansas' Justin Smith Scored 49 Points on 28 Shots
Arkansas, the third-highest scoring team left in the tournament (based on regular-season points per game), survived a huge scare against Texas Tech to get to the Sweet 16. If not for Justin Smith, the Razorbacks are probably sitting at home right now. Smith not only led the Razorbacks in the second round with 20 points, his offensive rating of 158 was out of this world as he made 9 of 11 shots. Through two games, Smith has 49 points on 28 shots while tacking on 19 boards, three assists, three blocks and five steals. He's also played 79 of a possible 80 minutes. Not bad.
8. Oral Roberts Scored 78 Points Per Game
This is a bit of an oddity, but Oral Roberts has won each of their two tournament games by three points. While their luck is expected to run out against Arkansas (they are 11.5-point underdogs), Oral Roberts' offense has proven to be legit. They got to Ohio State for 75 points in their historic first-round upset before dropping 81 on a Florida defense that is ranked a respectable 42nd on KenPom. They'll get a tough matchup in the Sweet 16 as Arkansas sits 10th in adjusted defense.
9. Michigan Attempted 51 Free Throws
Michigan got to the foul line 51 times across their first two games of the tournament, and they are the only team to make at least 20 foul shots in each of their two contests. While their 80.4% free throw percentage is good, Michigan's sheer number of attempts is what is so amazing. If we go back to their conference tournament loss to Ohio State, Michigan has attempted 20-plus foul shots in three straight. It is their only such three-game streak in the 2020-21 season.
10. Florida State Made 52.1% of Its Shots
Florida State nearly had an identical field goal percentage in their first two tournament games, making 52.1% and 52.2% of their shots in their two outings. They even attempted and made the nearly same amounts (25 of 48 and and 24 of 46). Now, FSU's three-point shooting was a completely different story (0 of 9 then 6 for 17). They'll likely need to hit a couple more threes to knock off Michigan, who ranks in the top 10 in both adjusted offense and defense, per KenPom.
11. Loyola Plays at the Slowest Pace of the Remaining Teams
Loyola drove Illinois insane with their slow pace during the Ramblers' second-round upset win. Loyola came into the dance ranked 342nd in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom. They averaged just 64.9 possessions per game. They've played that style through two tournament games. Their pace rating, per Sports-Reference, was 58.8 in Round 1 and 66.8 in the win over Illinois. Their season-long pace rating was 63.8%. Going by KenPom's adjusted tempo ratings, Loyola is the slowest-paced team left.
12. Oregon State Shot 91.4% From the Line Versus Oklahoma State
Oregon State made a season-high single-game best 91.4% from the foul line in their second-round win over Oklahoma State. The fact that they made 32 of 35 foul shots was just otherworldly. Not only did the Beavers make all of their foul shots late, but they also scored 40% of their 80 total points from the charity stripe. While the Beavers were a solid free throw shooting team all year (76.4%), they took it to another level in their upset win over the Cowboys.
13. UCLA Made Only 51.7% of Their Free Throws
On the opposite end of the spectrum, UCLA made only 51.7% of their freebies in their last two tournament games (not counting their play-in contest). They beat Abilene Christian by 20 despite shooting 6 of 13 from the charity stripe after they made only 9 of 16 free throws in a Round 1 win over BYU. The Bruins have nailed 72.1% of their free throws for the season and hit 15 of 20 against Michigan State in the play-in game, so they should shoot better from the stripe against Alabama in the Sweet 16.
14. Alabama Owns an Offense Rebound Differential of +16
The Tide have been monsters on the glass, specifically when it comes to offensive rebounding. In the second round, they posted an impressive +11 offensive rebounding differential versus Maryland, which sparked Alabama to a 19-point victory. It also led to a tournament-high 96 points for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has been a solid offensive rebounding team all season, sitting 54th in offensive rebounding rate (30.3%). But UCLA is 45th in defensive rebound rate (77.9%), so the Tide will have their work cut out for them on the glass in the Sweet 16.
15. Houston Surrendered 58 Points Per Game
Houston survived a sluggish offensive day against Rutgers thanks to their defense, and said defense has been stifling in both tourney games, holding Rutgers to 60 points and Cleveland State to 56. While the great D is nothing new for the Cougars, who sit 11th in adjusted defense, per KenPom, the lackluster offense isn't normal. Houston ranks seventh in adjusted offense and will try to get back on track against Jim Boeheim's vaunted 2-3 zone.
16. Syracuse Shot 58 Three-Pointers
Syracuse is letting it fly from deep. The Orange have attempted 58 three-pointers through two games. It's an uptick from what Syracuse averaged in the regular season as they attempted 24.3 triples per night, which was the 64th-most in the country. The Houston-Syracuse game may live and die on a Boeheim -- but not Jim. Buddy Boeheim has attempted 23 of the Orange's 58 treys, making 13. Houston has been pretty good at limiting three-point tries, allowing only 19.0 per game, the 55th-fewest.