This version of straitpinkie is looking to go straight geek status for all of you who value the numbers and believe stats mean everything. We will be taking an in depth look at the season averages and try to analyze who will be hoisting the trophy on Monday night.
It is imperative to remember that stats do not make up everything a team has to offer and this time of year, as evident by the two teams left on the left side of the bracket, anything is possible.
To start, Butler and VCU’s combined seed total is the highest to ever reach the Final Four. VCU, who was looking for a miracle to reach the tournament, was granted their wish with an eleven seed and they have taken full advantage of the opportunity. Shaka Smart, VCU’s head coach has the Rams playing at a ridiculous level and has turned doubters into believers.
Brad Stevens, the head coach of the Butler Bulldogs is now no stranger to big games. He has reached the Final Four two years in a row and what is most remarkable is he lost a NBA 1st round pick in Gordon Hayward. The Bulldogs were granted an eight seed and have exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Out of the millions of people who submit brackets on ESPN’s Bracket Challenge only two people correctly selected the Final Four.
Connecticut and Kemba Walker won the Big East tournament in four days and when everyone questioned how they would hold up in the NCAA Tournament, Kemba and company silenced the critics. This Connecticut team has Jim Calhoun questioning if it is his best ever.
Finally, the Kentucky Wildcats roll into Houston on a 10-game winning streak and have climbed on the backs of freshmen standout Brandon Knight and Senior big man Josh Harrellson. The only question Kentucky fans have is where was this Josh Harrellson at during the season when they lost to the likes of Georgia and Ole’ Miss on the road?
Something has got to give, right? We are about to find out which teams are going to expose their weaknesses the most.
When taking a look at the scoring averages on the season no one team really separates themselves from the pack. Kentucky leads all four teams with an average of 76 points a game. The rest are in between 70 and 75 points on average. Scoring averages are not indicative of what a team has to offer thought. I believe the best standard to judge a team offensively is field goal percentage.
Field goal percentage shows how efficient a teams offense has been throughout the season. If you are able to keep a good team lower then their season average field goal percentage then there is a very good chance of you beating that team.
By that standard Kentucky is the most efficient team in the final four. They shoot 46-percent from the field while Butler shoots nearly 45-percent. The other two teams play a high risk, high reward style of offense. Butler and Kentucky work to get good open looks and get to the paint very often which in itself is a high percentage shot.
Connecticut and VCU like to rely on their outside game. As has been evident in VCU’s run through the tournament. They have lived by the three-point shot and it has worked out for them thus far. Connecticut has a great defensive presence in the post but offensively they can be inconsistent. Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker have been the scoring threats throughout the tournament for the Huskies.
Connecticut is the eleventh best team in the country when it comes to cleaning the boards. The average nearly 40 rebounds a game while Kentucky sits at 38 a game. Butler and VCU match-up pretty well with one another. Butler averages about 35 boards a game and VCU is at 32.
What it really is going to come down to is which star player is going to show up and hit his averages. When breaking down the best player on all four teams this is what you get.
Brandon Knight in his major categories scores 17 points a game and averages about four assists. The key is he shoots about 43-percent from the field and is an exceptionable three-point shooter.
Kemba Walker has been the talk of the town since Connecticut brought home the Big East hardware. He averages a stellar 23 points and four assists. He is everything you want out of a star player. He brings leadership and is a great jump shooter from all over the floor.
Matt Howard is Butler’s Mr. Everything. You can expect him to get his 17 points and 8 rebounds but you can also expect him to get into foul trouble. Butler only struggles when Howard is in foul trouble early. If he stays away from the fouls then him combined with Shelvin Mack is a very dangerous combination.
Jamie Skeen from VCU has burst onto the seen for Shaka Smart. Skeen is a transfer from Wake Forest and it could not have worked out better for VCU. Skeen sits at about 15 points and 7 rebounds but he shoots 40-percent from behind arc. That wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that he is 6’9” and most teams power forwards have to guard him out along the perimeter which he then can take you off the dribble.
In the Connecticut vs. Kentucky match-up look for Kemba Walker to be a huge problem for the Wildcats. He was in Maui and has been for most teams all season long. Walker is going to get his but the key is to slow down the supporting cast. If Liggins is able to take away Jeremy Lamb then Kentucky can slowly chip away at the Huskies.
Everything about Connecticut’s tournament run has been amazing and the question remains will Josh Harrellson be better this time around guarding Alex Oriakhi? If not this Final Four game could look a lot like the Maui Invitational.
In the VCU vs. Butler game Matt Howard will be the key. Jamie Skeen and Howard will most likely guard one another. Skeen will attack Howard every time he touches the ball because everyone in the country knows that if Howard is on the bench then it is much tougher for Butler to keep up.
If Howard can stay out of foul trouble, then he and Shelvin Mack can work a deadly inside-out attack and could find themselves playing for the National Title in two consecutive seasons.