Accepting the Luck of the Draw

I love the NCAA tournament.  Nothing is quite like excitment of the tournament.  So much is on the line for each team in every game.  There are underdogs, close games, upsets, and Cinderella stories that are so fun to watch.

There have been some great moments in the NCAA tournament the past few days, but  something I have come to realize is that the national champion in a year like this could, at least  in-part, be very determined by the luck of the draw.  This is a result of having an amazing single-elimination tournament where 68 teams have the chance to fight for the national championship. I am not at all saying that luck decides the champion because clearly who ever wins the tournament has done the work and has the skills to create that opportunity. Yet, I do think that it is worth considering how one seeding/region difference could completely change the tournament.

At first, I thought this was a flaw in the system.  I could not think of how it is just to have the national champion be in-part determined by luck of the draw?   After further thought, I have come to the conclusion that the who, what, and where of the tournament is what makes things unpredictable.  While this might not help individual teams in certain situations, it makes the tournament that much better.

Who makes the tournament is definitely a factor for the entire tournament.  Since a team can get selected by the tournament committee or earn a spot by winning there conference, sometimes pretty solid teams just miss being selected for the tournament.  While it is unlikely a team that is not selected for the tournament would win the national championship, they could be in better position for an upset.  It’s great for teams to be able to earn a bid to the tournament by winning their conference (like NC A&T), but in some cases a higher seed could have an easier draw as a result of it.

What seed a team receives also shapes the tournament.  There is a fine line between who receives many of the seeds.  This seeding determines the match up, and some teams just match up better with certain styles than others.  Upsets may be caused, or avoided, based on seeding.

Where the games are played can also influence the tournament, even though games are played on a neutral court.  For instance, it certainly does not hurt for a team like Ohio State to play its first two rounds in Dayton, Ohio or Kansas to be in Kansas City.

I love the NCAA tournament, and I now have an appreciation for what luck of the draw brings to the tournament.  It makes it possible for basically anything to happen, even the most unlikely upsets.

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Madness before March

Overview

March is here.  For me, the beginning of March is a reminder of March Madness, the most exciting weeks of college basketball.  As the regular season winds down, it is a great time to look at  some statistical madness from this season that may impact the upcoming conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament.

UNC has put up some impressive numbers in team offense and assists

Davidson is shooting free throws almost like they’re layups (I’m not joking)

Jordan Hulls has proved himself to be an excellent three point shooter

If you haven’t heard of Mike Muscala, you should read about the season he is having.

Summary and Analysis

Teams

1.

I admit it, I am a bit biased, but the UNC basketball team has produced some impressive stats this season.  UNC’s offense is currently ranked 14th in the nation (77.7 ppg).  UNC is averaging 17.8 assists per game, which puts the team at 2nd in the nation in assists per game.   Reggie Bullock is 13th in the nation in three point field goal percentage (44.4%).  Also, Dexter Strickland has the 5th best assist-to-turnover  ratio in the nation (3.22).

2.

As of February 28, the Davidson College basketball teams free throw percentage is 81.2%… the team has made 492 of its 606 free throw attempts.  To put that in perspective, only 42 players in the NBA are shooting a higher free throw percentage than Davidson’s entire teamNik Cochran leads the Wildcats (and the country) shooting an astonishing 95.4% from the line (103 for 108)Davidson,  23-7 (17-1), is first place in the Southern Conference.  That is not a team that you want to be forced to intentionally foul at the end of a game.

Individuals

1.

Jordan Hulls, a junior guard at Indiana, currently leads the country in 3 point field goal percentage shooting 48.6% (71 of 146) from behind the arc. This season, Kyle Kover and Stephen Curry lead the NBA in three point percentage. Although they have both shot more three pointers, they have shot 46.2% and 45.2% respectively from behind the arc.

Indiana is ranked number 2 in the nation in this week’s polls, and Hulls is someone to look out for in Big Ten conference tournament and NCAA tournament.

2.

Bucknell, 25-5 (12-2), are currently in first place in the Patriot League.  They are 12th in the nation for win-loss percentage.

Bucknell Forward Mike Muscala has lead the team to their success.   Muscala is ranked 3rd in the nation in double-doubles (he has had 19 double-doubles in 30 games).  In addition he is 4th in the nation in rebounds per game (11 rpg), 24th in the nation in blocked shots per game (2.5 per game), 25th in the nation in points per game (19.1 ppg), and 63rd in the nation in field goal percentage (52.3%).

Muscala has been dominant this season.  Look out for him the rest of this season.

Sources

http://www.ncaa.com/stats/basketball-men/d1

http://www.nba.com/statistics