What Pomeroy Knows About The Current Top 25 That You Might Not

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 13th, 2013

It’s happened to many a college basketball fan (hopefully not just me). You pull up kenpom.com, just needing to check Doug McDermott’s offensive rating, or Syracuse’s adjusted tempo. You quickly accomplish your goal, but 45 minutes later, Doug McDermott’s offensive rating has morphed, several times over, into a glance at individual seasons similar to Joe Trapani’s 2007 campaign at Vermont. Fortunately, I am not here to discuss John Shurna’s freshman year (one such similar season), and instead, I’ll spare you a bit of KenPom wandering. Via college basketball’s statistical maestro, here are four takeaways in comparing his metrics with the current AP Top 25.

The Folks In The Oakland Zoo Are Probably In Agreement With Ken Pom's Take On Their Panthers; After A 9-0 Start, Pitt Is #4 With Pomeroy, But Still Unranked In The AP Poll

The Folks In The Oakland Zoo Are Probably In Agreement With KenPom’s Take On Their Panthers; After A 9-0 Start, Pitt Is #4 With Pomeroy, But Still Unranked In The AP Poll

Most Overrated/Underrated

KenPom’s ratings are never a perfect match with the polls. Expect the two evaluative systems to converge a bit as the year progresses, but let’s note the teams with the most decisive split of opinion at the moment. On the plus side of things, Pittsburgh sits at #4 in KenPom’s ratings, despite having not yet entered the AP poll. The potentially underrated (at least by AP voters) Panthers were third in “receiving votes” last week after a 9-0 start to the year. One of the teams that beat the Panthers into the poll was the Missouri Tigers, yet they rest some 37 slots below Pitt at #41 in KenPom’s rankings. Mizzou hasn’t done anything wrong yet – the Tigers are also 9-0 and coming off consecutive victories over West Virginia and UCLA – but Pomeroy’s model doesn’t yet view them as an elite squad. Other teams that pollsters are a bit keener on include Colorado (#37), San Diego State (#40), and UConn (#21).

Extremes Of The Youth Movement

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Misperceptions and Missed Perceptions: Reviewing Some Preseason Predictions

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 5th, 2013

With four weeks of basketball now in the books, it’s time to take a quick glance back at some of the things we thought we knew in the preseason. Some notions have proved accurate, but early results have tested a slew of preseason hypotheses that we once felt confident in. Here are a few examples, on both sides of the ledger:

We Thought We Knew…

Andy Enfield Was the New Coach Bringing Exciting Offensive Basketball to LA

There Has Been Nothing Slow About Steve Alford's And UCLA's First Four Weeks

There Has Been Nothing Slow About Steve Alford’s And UCLA’s First Four Weeks

We weren’t the only ones who thought it was USC, with Andy Enfield now at the helm – and not UCLA, with new head man Steve Alford — which was going to be lighting up Pac-12 scoreboards in the City of Angels this winter. Back in October, Enfield told his players, “if you want to play slow, go to UCLA.” Well, USC isn’t playing slow – they are 33rd nationally in possessions per game –but they are playing slower than the Bruins, which are six spots ahead of them in that category. And if this first month means anything, perhaps Enfield should have also advised any of his players who enjoy scoring, winning, or both, to plan that transfer across town. USC is 5-3, with just one win against a team in KenPom’s top 230 (!!!) and an offensive efficiency that ranks them 170th nationally. UCLA, on the other hand, is 8-0 and averaging more than 90 PPG behind the 7th-most efficient offense in the country. Now, there is a necessary asterisk here: Alford inherited significantly more talent at his disposal than Enfield did. Even so, it was Enfield – not Alford — who invited the cross-town comparisons. The Dunk City architect better have something besides his mouth working by the time USC visits Pauley Pavilion on January 5; otherwise, his Trojans are firmly at risk of getting run out of Westwood, and contrary to popular belief, there would be nothing slow about it.  

The Complection of the Top of the Big 12

At this point, expecting Kansas to win the Big 12 generally equates to peeping out a Southern California window and looking for the sun in the morning. The Jayhawks may not have played their way out of the preseason expectation to win the Big 12 again this year, but they should have company at the top this time around. Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State, post play deficiencies aside, have looked every bit the part of Big 12 title contenders themselves, and many would now peg the Cowboys as Big 12 favorites (including yours truly). Kansas State and Baylor were next in line after the Pokes and Jayhawks a month ago, but the Wildcats have suffered through a miserable opening month, while Baylor has looked as shaky as a 7-1 team with two top-40 victories can look, with two of those wins coming against non-D-I competition and three of the other five earned with a final margin of victory of five points or fewer. Iowa State now looks like the team ready to take a step up in class. The Cyclones, 7-0 with a pair of top-40 victories of their own, could easily enter the Big 12 season undefeated and prepared to further shake up a suddenly unpredictable conference race.

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Winners and Losers from the 15th Annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Posted by Lathan Wells on December 5th, 2013

The 2013-14 ACC/Big Ten Challenge had a different look this year thanks to realignment, but for the second consecutive year, the event ended in a 6-6 tie. In the end, the Challenge produced one shocking upset, showcased two Duke players heading in opposite directions, and delivered one game that set basketball back a few decades. Here are several glaring winners and losers from this year’s version:

Winners

1)       North Carolina. The most confusing team in the country went into East Lansing and knocked off the top-ranked Spartans, despite only an average night scoring the basketball by Marcus Paige.  Sure, there were injury issues on the Spartans’ side, but the ability of this UNC team to bounce back from puzzling losses to knock off powerhouses (Louisville after a home loss to Belmont; Michigan State after a road loss to UAB) speaks volumes about Roy Williams’ ability to motivate a roster he didn’t envision leaning on when the season began.

UNC celebrates huge win over No. 1 Michigan State (credit: goheels.com)

UNC celebrates huge win over No. 1 Michigan State (credit: goheels.com)

2)      Quinn Cook. Everyone knew about Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. Most of the questions about the Blue Devils were about the supporting cast. With Rasheed Sulaimon a no-show (more on that later), the inconsistent Cook of a year ago seemed like a different player as he exploited the Michigan backcourt in a solid win Tuesday night. If Cook can consistently hit his outside shot and remain largely turnover-free, a team that appeared to lean heavily on two players suddenly has more versatility at its disposal. Cook’s 24 points and nine turnovers helped keep Duke’s 13-year non-conference home winning streak alive.

3)      Iowa. Fighting off a tougher-than-expected challenge from Notre Dame with 57 percent shooting was impressive, but even more impressive was that this was the Hawkeyes’ fourth game in six days. Fran McCaffery’s bunch was coming off a solid showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis, losing only an overtime title game to a very good Villanova squad. Iowa has a solid nucleus in Aaron White, Devyn Marble and Jared Uthoff and has already shown its natural ability to score in bunches. Their resolve in fighting off fatigue and a charging Notre Dame team spoke to their toughness. This is definitely a team worth watching in the Big Ten this season.

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Dissecting a College Hoops Revival in the DFW Metroplex

Posted by David Harten on November 6th, 2013

Say what you want about USC vs. UCLA on the west coast, but if you want to see a remarkable arms race between neighboring programs, look to the south. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, SMU began to show the rest of the college basketball world it is finally making a move when the school hired Larry Brown prior to last season. TCU did the same in a more subtle manner, moving to the Big 12 in 2012 and hiring Trent Johnson away from LSU. Quietly, two teams who have been mediocre at best in their respective hoops histories were beginning to make DFW hardwood relevant outside of the Mavericks.

Dallas-Area College Hoops Appears to be on the Rise

Dallas-Area College Hoops Appears to be on the Rise

Johnson’s first season in Fort Worth went as expected, as the Horned Frogs transitioned to a much more difficult conference. Outside of a home upset over Kansas (probably the biggest single upset of the 2012-13 season), TCU tacked on one more win in conference play and trudged to a 2-16 league record. But off the court, Johnson has steadily done his best to push the Horned Frogs toward the middle of the Big 12 pack, which seems like an impossible task for a program that has only been to seven NCAA Tournaments (none since 1998). It started with his first recruiting class, when Johnson landed journeyman guard Trey Zeigler, even if just for the one upcoming season. He also made a splash in recruiting circles by landing Dallas-area center Karviar Shepherd, who ranked as the 69th-best player in the class. To show future recruits their own commitment to building the program, the university has also announced a $45 million renovation to Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

Down the road in Dallas, SMU started its road to relevancy by hiring legendary (albeit well-traveled) coach Larry Brown prior to last season. After controversially picking through his roster and cutting certain players, the 73-year old Brown landed his first solid recruiting class with point guard Sterling Brown (ranked no. 82 by Scout.com in the 2013 class), shooting guard Keith Frazier (ranked no. 33) and junior college power forward Yanick Moreira, a consensus top five JuCo prospect. Regardless of his age, Brown has an astute basketball mind that will help the Mustangs drive toward relevance in the newly-formed American Athletic Conference. Couple all this with the fact that SMU also pledged a healthy chunk of change to update the basketball facilities – $47 million worth, to be exact – and you have the start of something brewing in Dallas. The Mustangs will need all of this and more to return to their first NCAA Tournament since 1993.

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Five Years Later: Has Longer Three-Point Line Achieved Desired Results?

Posted by BHayes on October 3rd, 2013

With five full seasons of college basketball’s 20-foot, 9-inch three-point line under our belt (formerly 19’9″), now would seem like a good time to take inventory on the impact of the rule change. There was ample debate back in summer 2008 on just how much of a difference the extra foot would make, but believers, and more importantly, the enforcers (the NCAA) trusted that the new line would promote better offensive spacing, and again make the three-pointer an option for only the finest of shooters. Those on the other side of the debate refused to believe that a measly 12 inches would alter a whole lot, with common refrains ranging from “players will be able to adjust very quickly” to “most three-point attempts came from well beyond the arc anyways.” So which group gets to say “I told you so” now? We have a large enough sample size to draw legitimate conclusions, but if we recall the initial objectives of the rule change – increased floor spacing and a decrease in non-shooters attempting the shot —  it’s  hard to argue that the evidence shows anything but mixed results.

Former Blue Devil Greg Paulus Was One Of Many Who Preferred The Three-Point Line Back At 19', 9" ; After Shooting 42% From Three Point Range As A Junior In 2007-08, Paulus Shot Just 34% From Beyond The Arc As A Senior (Photo Credit: Spokeo.com)

Former Blue Devil Greg Paulus Was One Of Many Who Preferred The Three-Point Line Back At 19′, 9″ ; After Shooting 42% From Three Point Range As A Junior In 2007-08, Paulus Shot Just 34% From Beyond The Arc As A Senior (Photo Credit: Spokeo.com)

At the simplest level, the new line served its purpose: Three-point shots have been harder to make since 2008-09. In the last decade, the peak of three-point shooting proficiency came in the final year of the 19’9” line, when players shot 35.02% from distance. That number immediately plummeted to 34.18% in the first year with the new line — a significant drop when you consider that the largest shift in percentage in the five years prior was just .21%. Also worth noting is that the overall percentage in each of the last five years is well below even the lowest percentage (34.49%) in the five years before the change. StatSheet has some wonderful visual representations of this data, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that college players are simply not making as many threes as they did when the line was shorter. No PhD necessary to deduce that they are also taking fewer threes – another desired outcome for the rule book authors back in 2008. Total attempts saw a drastic decline between 2007 and 2008, as the average of 38.25 3FGAs per game fell to just 36.73 in the year after the change. That number has experienced a relative flatline in the four years since – a sharp interruption to a decidedly upward trending graph in the years prior.

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New Study Unearths Spending Inequities Between Athletics and Academics

Posted by Chris Johnson on January 17th, 2013

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The growing monetary influence of college sports is one of today’s mostly hotly-debated topics. Much of the discussion surrounds the NCAA, and the allegedly outdated and misguided legislation that comprises its controversial amateurism ideal and restricts student athletes from reaping the financial benefits of their athletic achievements. There is a firestorm of protest brewing in that realm, and we could soon reach a tipping point with the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. In fact, NCAA boss Mark Emmert is hoping to chip away at the organization’s shield against compensation for student-athletes by pushing through a stipend payment  – in essence, extra funds on top of grant in aid scholarships – within the next couple of years. And you count on at least a few more messy player ineligibility cases surfacing over that same span, which, inevitably, will ramp up the chorus of scrutiny on the folks in Indianapolis. Ripping the NCAA has become a seasonal exercise – the national media not only relishes the opportunity to poke holes in the organization’s moral mission. It amplifies miniscule and often nebulous procedural issues into long-winded screeds on student-athlete exploitation and “unfair” profiting off unpaid undergraduates.

Emmert Is Trying To Push Through A Stipend For Student-Athletes

That’s the stuff you hear about all the time. What may be less familiar – and there’s good reason for this – is the growing chasm between schools’ athletic and academic financial priorities. In the past decade, as the scramble for favorable television rights arrangements sent programs in a rabid conference-hopping scramble, coaches salaries were sent skyrocketing out of control (particularly in football) and athletic staffs multiplied, the dividing line between “athletic” and “academic” priorities on college campuses has reached an uncomfortable balance. The goal of maintaining academic standards while trying to keep up in the financial arms race that underlies today’s intercollegiate sports world has skewed university spending balances towards athletics.

This is nothing new. But thanks to a comprehensive study at American Institutes for Research in conjunction with the project reform Knight Commission on intercollegiate athletics, we now have a clearer picture on the specifics of how funds are allocated between academic and athletic resources. To no great surprise, our foremost suspicions are correct. Athletes are indeed, far greater financial responsibilities than students for universities. How much greater? According to the  study, universities are spending, on average, anywhere between six-to-12 times more on athletes than non-athletes. In dollars, the disparity is as follows (on average): $164,000 per athlete to $13,390 per student.

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Rick Majerus, Passed Away at 64, Leaves a Remarkable Legacy

Posted by Chris Johnson on December 2nd, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The stylistic permissiveness of college basketball is one of its best qualities. Unlike the professional game, talent does not always trump tactical wisdom. Athleticism and depth advantages are often negated by disciplined defense and judicious offense. Contrary to what last year’s Kentucky might lead you to believe, you don’t always need the very best players to win. What you need is simple: a comprehensive knowledge of offensive and defensive principles; a brazen disregard for the formalities of coaching etiquette, and an undying thirst to live, breathe and absorb every last bit of college basketball information into your memory. Just ask Rick Majerus.

Few coaches impacted the college game like Majerus did (Photo credit: Getty Images).

When I heard that Majerus, 64, had passed away after a long and well-documented struggle with heart problems – problems that caused him to take a leave absence from St. Louis prior to this season and announce his resignation from the Billiken program weeks after the word – I grieved the loss of not only one of the most entertaining sideline bosses of my sports-watching childhood, but of the greatest technical wizard I have ever seen coach a college basketball game.

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Night Line: Mason Plumlee’s Post Dominance Keying Duke’s Phenomenal Start

Posted by EJacoby on November 29th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Plenty of elite teams have impressed in the opening month of this season, but Duke is in a tier by itself when it comes to a complete resume. After exacting revenge on Ohio State from last season’s drubbing with a 73-68 victory over the Buckeyes on Wednesday night, Mike Krzyzewski’s team has now defeated three top-five teams in November. That doesn’t even include victories over Minnesota and VCU, as well, two other likely NCAA Tournament squads. In Wednesday’s win, Duke trailed by eight points at halftime to a tougher-looking Buckeyes squad while itself looking fatigued, and it needed a significant second half spark to change the tone of the game. That’s where it turned to Mason Plumlee, who turned momentum back on Duke’s side with two monster alley-oops from point guard Quinn Cook. Blue Devil fans have waited three long years for Plumlee to become a dominant post force who successfully harnessed all of his athletic potential, and tonight’s 21-point, 17-rebound effort in a comeback win over an elite opponent shows just how far the big man has come.

Mason Plumlee has Duke soaring up the rankings through victories over elite opponents (AP Photo)

We knew Duke had the depth, shooting, and coaching to remain an ACC contender this season, but Plumlee’s transformation into a dominant, All America-caliber forward gives the team a chance to reach greater heights than almost anyone imagined. Through seven games, the 6’10” senior is now averaging 19.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 65% shooting from the field; all good for top-five rankings in the ACC. But what’s most astonishing about Plumlee’s stats is his free throw percentage, which at 79% is an exponential improvement over his career 50% shooting coming into this season. Never mind the massive 8.8 PPG  jump; an increase of 30 points on a go-to player’s free throw percentage is enough to change the entire dynamic of an offense. As Jay Bilas consistently pointed out during Wednesday’s ESPN broadcast, Plumlee plays with improved aggressiveness near the basket this season now that he’s not afraid to get fouled. The senior converted 9-12 freebies tonight while also producing a game-high in scoring and rebounding.

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Night Line: Another Year, Another Underrated Georgetown Team

Posted by EJacoby on November 21st, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

It didn’t earn the victory in Tuesday night’s Progressive Legends Classic final against #1 Indiana, but Georgetown proved once again that it’s a painfully underrated team this season. The unranked Hoyas took the nation’s top-ranked team to overtime in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after hanging around all night in an entertaining back-and-forth game that didn’t make John Thompson III’s team seem like the underdog. Riding the clutch performance of do-it-all sophomore star Otto Porter and the hot hand of junior Markel Starks, Georgetown competed with the Hoosiers and nearly converted back-to-back upset victories after defeating #7 UCLA on Monday. In the end it was Indiana with the 82-72 win in a solid performance that saw every Hoosier starter score in double figures, but it took an extra session to put away JTIII’s team. This season’s Hoyas flew under the preseason radar yet again, but they’ll be ranked in the top-25 come next week after an impressive showing in the Legends Classic.

Otto Porter has his Georgetown Hoyas back in the fold as a serious contender (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

Last season, the Hoyas were picked to finish tenth in the Big East’s preseason coaches’ poll before riding a consistent fringe top-10 overall ranking and finishing as an NCAA Tournament #3 overall seed. They at least earned a bit more respect from fellow conference coaches by being selected fifth in the 2012-13 Big East preseason poll, but G’Town once again looks like it has the talent, strategy, and toughness to compete with nearly anyone in the nation after taking top-ranked Indiana to the brink on Tuesday. It’s as if we had all forgotten about last season already, when the Hoyas lost leading scorers Austin Freeman and Chris Wright but didn’t miss a beat as fresh stars emerged with newfound roles. Despite three top dogs Jason Clark, Henry Sims, and Hollis Thompson all now gone this year, these 2012-13 Hoyas have again found former reserves to fill bigger roles and continue the consistent success of the Georgetown zone-heavy defense, Princeton-style offense, and overall winning program.

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North Carolina and Long Beach State: Respect the Scheduling

Posted by AMurawa on November 17th, 2012

Drew Murawa is an RTC correspondent and a Pac-12 microsite writer. He filed this report from tonight’s North Carolina-Long Beach State game.

Right out of the box, we need to thank these two coaches for getting this type of game scheduled. It wasn’t necessarily a marquee game that every college basketball junkie around the country had been looking forward to, but this was a game that saw one of the sports’ bluebloods go on the road and play at a mid-major school. This is not something that happens every day. It’s really not even something that happens every decade, excepting North Carolina. Can you imagine Jim Boeheim scheduling this game for Syracuse? Coach K and Duke? Those schools barely even leave their own friendly confines in November and December, and when they do it is for made-for-television neutral site games. No, this was a true road game for the Tar Heels. And even though there were a lot of Carolina Blue shirts scattered throughout the arena, there was little doubt that most of the largest crowd in the history of the Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State was there in the hopes of watching North Carolina lose.

North Carolina at Long Beach State

With North Carolina In Town, Long Beach State Set a New Attendance Record In The Pyramid

So how did this game get scheduled? Well, primarily it was scheduled because the Tar Heels are on their way across the Pacific for a trip to the Maui Invitational and have made a habit of stopping off for a road game on the way. In 2008 they played at LBSU’s Big West rival UC Santa Barbara, and in 2004 they traveled to Santa Clara on the way to Maui – and lost with a freshman point guard, Quentin Thomas, at the helm. So, unlike some of the other bluebloods, UNC is not afraid to take the occasional road trip. Last year they helped UNC Asheville open their new arena; two years ago they traveled to Evansville. Head coach Roy Williams thinks it is good for his team and plenty of fun as well. “Anytime you go get a win on the road, it’s a good thing,” he said. “The crowd was great, it was a wonderful college basketball atmosphere. I don’t mind the kids yelling at me and yelling for their team.” Sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo agreed. “I think it was just a perfect fit for us right now, coming out here and playing in this atmosphere is just what we need, especially going into Maui and being a young team.” In the end, regardless of who you root for or what you think of the Tar Heels, you’ve got to respect the fact that these guys are more than willing to go on the road and give smaller fan bases a thrill on occasion.

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Night Line: Even in an Off Night, Freshman Arcidiacono Impresses During Villanova Victory

Posted by EJacoby on November 16th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

In what can only be characterized as a chaotic game, Villanova used overtime on Thursday night to defeat Purdue, 89-81, in the second semifinal of the 2kSports Classic in Madison Square Garden. The two teams combined to commit 55 fouls and both shot under 40% from the field in a game that was equal parts sloppy and entertaining due to the back-and-forth play between two young teams. One consistent throughout the night, however, was the playmaking ability displayed by the Wildcats’ freshman starting point guard Ryan Arcidiacono. The 6’3″ guard played the worst game of his early Villanova career yet still scored 18 points with six assists and led all players with 39 minutes played. Missed shots and over-aggressive turnovers plagued him for much of the night, yet he easily made up for his mistakes with complete control of the ‘Nova offense and clutch free throws down the stretch. Like all young players, Arcidiacono will suffer some growing pains but it looks like Jay Wright has found a keeper and a future Big East star in his new point guard.

Freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono has complete command of the Villanova offense (U.S. Presswire)

The rookie guard shot just 3-14 from the field on Thursday while committing seven turnovers, several of which led to easy scores for Purdue in transition. But Arcidiacono’s mistakes were a function of his aggressive mentality, relentlessly seeking to attack weak spots in the defense and create scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates. There’s simply a buzz when the rookie has the ball in his hands, like something good is going to happen for his Wildcats. ‘Arch,’ as coach Wright calls him, has tremendous dribbling skills and one-on-one ability with the ball while constantly keeping his head up to find open teammates when the defense sends help to contain his drives. He has deep range on his shot that keeps defenders honest and good size at 6’3″ to finish in traffic near the rim. His shots weren’t falling on Thursday – he didn’t convert a single field goal in the second half after shooting 3-4 in the first – but he still put pressure on the Boilermakers throughout the night with his command of the offense. And, most importantly on this night, Arch is a fantastic free-throw shooter who rarely misses at the line. He shot 9-10 from the stripe and it was the freshman’s two clutch freebies with 44 seconds to play in regulation that tied the game at 75-75 and sent this one into overtime, where ‘Nova took control in the extra session.

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Night Line: Is Florida a Better Offensive Team This Season?

Posted by EJacoby on November 15th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @EJacobyRTC on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

The #12 Florida Gators have high expectations this season, as usual, with a loaded starting lineup that features two returning SEC stars and a bevy of other talented scorers. But Billy Donovan’s team lost much of its backcourt production from last season in Erving Walker and Bradley Beal, the second- and third-leading scorers on last year’s team who also accounted for over 40% of the squad’s total assists. Those 2011-12 Gators ranked sixth in the nation in overall offensive efficiency and came just a few plays away from reaching a Final Four. Yet does this season’s version of Florida have an even higher ceiling? Conventional wisdom would say no given the loss of its two perimeter leaders, but a strong recruiting class joins a healthier team this year, most notably a much improved senior forward Erik Murphy. Wednesday night’s 74-56 victory over defensive stalwart Wisconsin, featuring a perfect shooting night from Murphy, provided a glimpse of UF’s offensive upside that few teams in the country can match.

Erik Murphy led Florida with a perfect shooting night on Wednesday (AP Photo)

The Gators attempted and made the most three-point shots in all of Division I last season (9.6 makes per game), a crucial element to the team’s conversion of 1.15 points per possession, good for fifth in the country. While Walker and Beal’s 132 three-point makes are gone, don’t be so sure that Florida will fall off in the long-range shooting department. Preseason all-SEC senior guard Kenny Boynton and the aforementioned Murphy return 169 makes of their own, sparkplug sixth man Mike Rosario hit over one trey per game last year as well, and a loaded recruiting class of shooters joins the fold. Braxton Ogbueze headlines the freshman class as a heady point guard, while fellow newcomers Michael Frazier II, Devon Walker, and Dillon Graham all specialize as three-point bombers. Graham models his game after J.J. Redick, Walker has unlimited range from outside, and UF assistant coach Mike McCall noted this preseason of Frazier, “Every time [the ball] leaves his hand, you think it’s going in.” The Gators are already scoring at a more consistent rate this year with a 1.18 points per possession ratio. While only two games is an extremely small sample size, Wednesday’s game came against Bo Ryan’s Badgers; a masterful defensive team that finished seventh in total defensive efficiency last season.

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