Kellen Carpenter is an RTC contributor.
This is my favorite part of the college basketball season. Everything is more certain, yet still mutable: we know where things stand, but for most, it’s not too late for a strong push to finish the season. We don’t have to rely on pre-season guesswork or early returns: we have an idea of the mettle of most teams. The hype around fall flavors like Kansas State has been forgotten, and instead, we now read up on San Diego State. Here is the part of the season where we have taken stock of the landscape, the prologue is over, and now, we get to the good stuff: the build-up to conference championships and March confrontations. That said, the landscape of college basketball is as interesting as it’s ever been. It would be wrong of us to move along too quickly without stopping to admire some of the interesting and stylistically odd teams that this season has given us. And speaking of moving too quickly, let’s take some time to look at some of the more interesting slow-as-Christmas teams in the country.
Ryan's System Works For Him
In Madison, they are, as always, playing Bo Ryan’s brand of basketball, but this year the team has achieved a special level of Ryan-ness. With an emphasis on fundamentals, this Wisconsin team is the pride of sanctimonious gym teachers across this fair land. The team rarely ever turns the ball over, easily leading the nation by surrendering the ball only 13.5% of the time. As a team, the Badgers are the best free throw shooting team in the nation, making 81.9% of their free throws. With those two distinctions, Wisconsin is now, if it wasn’t already, officially, the epitome of dad-basketball across the nation. Unfortunately, the meticulous style of play also means that Wisconsin leads the nation in one more category: slowest pace. The Badgers average 58 father-pleasing possessions a game.
At Samford, they are playing slowly as well, and while the style of play isn’t exactly dad-pleasing, it’s certainly interesting. It’s mostly confusing, but technically superlative in quite a few ways. Samford leads the nation in assist-to-field-goal ratio, which may or may not mean anything. They also easily lead the nation in proportion of three point shots taken, shooting 56.1% of their shots from beyond the arc. They are also the worst team in the nation at offensive rebounding, grabbing only 19.1% of available boards. I have not seen Samford play, but from the numbers I’m picking up on the kind of mad-genius idea that few coaches and teams have the stomach to implement.
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