Category Archives: College Hoops

Snakes In The Weeds: 5 Teams Better Than Their NCAA Tournament Seeds

Forward Will Barton is one of five stud sophomores on Memphis.

When you’re filling out your NCAA tournament brackets this week, don’t be deceived by these five teams. They are the snakes lurking in the weeds, waiting to poison any chance you have at winning your pool. These teams are all much better than their seeds would suggest and each has a legitimate chance of making some noise in the coming weeks.

Memphis (26-8) – 8-Seed in the West Region

Computer Ranks: 9th (KenPom), 12th (Sagarin)

The Tigers have been on cruise control lately. Memphis has won seven straight, each by double digits with an average margin of victory of 22.7. Most recently, the Tigers dominated the Conference-USA tournament, beating Central Florida by 31 in the semifinals before trouncing Marshall by 26 in the final.

Memphis is one of just ten teams to enter the NCAA Tournament with a top 25 offense and defense, according to KenPom. The Tigers currently have the 19th ranked offense and the 13th ranked defense. Memphis’ profile is very similar to the average Final Four team of the last nine years. Since 2003, the average offensive rank of a Final Four team is 13.89 and the average defensive rank is 17.44.

Memphis is led by sophomore Will Barton (18.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.0 apg), who is having an All-America type season. The 6-5 forward leads the Tigers in points and rebounds and has an offensive rating of 116.1 (24th in the nation).

Forward Tarik Black (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .686 FG%) is one of the most efficient scorers in the country. He ranks second in the nation in effective field goal percentage (68.6) and fifth in true shooting percentage (67.3).

The Tigers also have two solid ball distributors. Guards Joe Jackson (11.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.3 spg) and Chris Crawford (9.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.1 rpg) both have assist rates over 25.0.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK:

Ouch, the Tigers got the shaft from the committee. Not only did Memphis receive an 8-seed, they also drew St. Louis in the first round. Like Memphis, the Billikens are much better than their seed would suggest, they are a top-20 team in both the KenPom and Sagarin rankings.

If the Tigers can get past St. Louis, they’ll get No. 1 seed Michigan State in a match-up of top-15 teams. Rebounding may be the Tigers’ downfall against Tom Izzo’s squad. Memphis has not rebounded well this year, they rank 232nd in offensive rebounding and 173rd in defensive rebounding. The Spartans on the other hand rank 25th in both offensive and defensive rebounding.

7-footer Garrett Stutz will pose match-up problems for opposing teams.

Wichita State (27-5) – 5-Seed in the South Region

Computer Ranks: 10th (KenPom), 10th (Sagarin)

I wrote gushingly about Wichita State a couple weeks ago, and my opinion hasn’t changed. The Shockers are one of the ten best teams in the country and are a serious threat to go far in the NCAA Tournament.

The Shockers had won 17 of their previous 18 games (the one loss was in triple overtime at Drake) before losing to Illinois State in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. They had also won seven straight games by 13 points or more.

Like Memphis, Wichita State is one of ten teams in the nation to have both a top 25 offense and defense. The Shockers rank ninth in offensive efficiency and 18th in defensive efficiency.

Wichita’s success on offense can be explained by their high shooting percentages and their ability to take care of the ball. The Shockers rank 14th in two-point field goal percentage, 60th in three-point field goal percentage, 13th in effective field goal percentage and 47th in turnover percentage. The Shockers have excelled on defense by allowing a low field goal percentage (23rd in effective field goal percentage allowed) and few second chances (sixth in offensive rebounding percentage allowed). Their defense has been superb without forcing a high percentage of turnovers (18.6 percent, 259th in the country).

According to KenPom, the Shockers are the third most experienced team in the nation and second most experienced team in the NCAA Tournament (behind Pat Knight’s awful, horrible group of seniors at Lamar). Of the Shockers’ main rotation of seven, five players are seniors and two are juniors.

While Wichita hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2006 – before any of their current members were on the team – the Shockers won the NIT last season. In my eyes, the squad gained more tourney experience from that run to Madison Square Garden than they would have from a loss in the first round of the NCAAs.

Led by seniors Joe Ragland and Toure’ Murry, the Shockers have the type of backcourt that long tournament runs are made of. The sharp-shooting Ragland has been one of the best, most-efficient guards in the nation this season. The senior has an effective field goal percentage of 67.0 (third in the nation), a true shooting percentage of 70.4 (first in the nation) and an offensive rating of 128.7 (ninth in the nation). In comparison, sweet-shooting Steph Curry had a 60.7 effective field goal percentage and 64.0 true shooting percentage in 2008, the year he took Davidson to the elite eight.

The Shockers also have a solid interior presence, led by 7-footer Garrett Stutz. As mentioned earlier, Wichita allows very few second chances on defense, ranking ninth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage allowed. A lot of that can be attributed to the strong defensive rebounding ability of Stutz. The senior center has a defensive rebound percentage of 27.0, which ranks 14th in the nation. Stutz also does a nice job on the offensive glass, grabbing 9.8 percent of his offensive rebounding opportunities. Stutz also uses his size to take a good number of high-percentage shots and he converts on them, posting an effective field goal percentage of 57.3 and a true shooting percentage of 61.9.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK:

The Shockers didn’t get any favors from the committee either. Wichita State will face a pesky VCU squad in the first round. After their success last season, I expect the Rams to be a popular 12-5 upset pick, but I think the Shockers will hold their own. VCU likes to bring havoc on defense and they force the most turnovers in the nation. However, I think the Shockers have the type of guards in Ragland, Murry and Demetric Williams to be able to take the Rams’ pressure in stride.

The Shockers would then be staring down match-ups with Indiana and Kentucky. It won’t be easy, but I still think Wichita State can hang with any team in the country, so I won’t count out a deep run by the Shockers. Ken Pomeroy gives the Shockers a 17.8 percent chance to reach the Elite Eight and a 11.8 percent chance to reach the Final Four.

Drew Gordon (32) is one of the best defensive rebounders in the country.

New Mexico (27-6) – 5-Seed in the West Region

Computer Rankings: 13th (KenPom), 17th (Sagarin)

The Lobos, champions of the Mountain West Conference tournament, have never gotten the respect they deserve this season. Despite ranking highly in the computer polls all year, the coaches and AP voters have been reluctant to include New Mexico in their rankings. The Lobos were unranked in both polls last week, but no one should be caught off guard if New Mexico wins a few games in the NCAA Tournament.

The Lobos are currently No. 13 in the KenPom rankings and their strength all year has been on defense. The Lobos rank 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 39th in adjusted offensive efficiency. New Mexico has done a great job on defense, but their success has not been highly reliant on forcing turnovers. Just 21.3 percent of their defensive possessions have ended with a turnover, the 119th highest mark in the nation. As Luke Winn examined, this could be a good sign for the Lobos. High seeds whose defensive success is heavily reliant on forcing turnovers tend not to have the same success in the NCAA Tournament.

The Lobos ranked 24th in defensive rebounding, allowing opposing offenses to grab just 27.3 percent of available boards. Forward Drew Gordon (13.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 1.2 apg) is a beast on the defensive glass. He grabbed 29.0 percent of available boards on defense this season, the fourth best mark in the nation.

On offense, 64.8 percent of the Lobos’ made baskets were assisted on, the third highest rate in the country. New Mexico had four players — Demetrius Walker, Kendall Williams, Jamal Fenton and Hugh Greenwood- who had an assist rate of 20.0 or more.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK:

Like VCU, I believe Long Beach State will be a popular 12 over 5 upset pick. However, New Mexico is a really tough match-up for the 49ers, and I think the Lobos have a very good chance of knocking off Long Beach State and Louisville. That would set up a great Sweet 16 game between New Mexico and Michigan State, two of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country. A showdown between seniors Drew Gordon and Draymond Green would be highly enjoyable.

Erving Walker is part of the Gators’ talented trio of guards.

Florida (23-10) – 7-seed in the West Region

Computer Rankings: 19th (KenPom), 17th (Sagarin)

I have been down on Florida all season, but I can’t deny that the Gators are a dangerous, talented 7-seed. On the surface, the Gators are very similar to 2-seed Mizzou, but with worse defense, less success and perhaps more talent (Florida has two projected first round picks in Bradley Beal and Patric Young). Unlike the other teams on this list, I’m not arguing that the Gators should have received a higher seed. Florida had a disappointing season, losing 10 games including four of their last five and six of their last 10.

According to KenPom, Florida has the third most efficient offense in the country. The Gators shoot a high percentage (54.8 effective field goal percentage, 8th in the nation) and take good care of the ball (16.6 turnover percentage, 14th in the nation). The Gators boast a trio of highly-efficient guards in Kenny Boynton (16.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg), Erving Walker (12.1 ppg, 2.8rapg, 4.7 apg) and Bradley Beal (14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.2 apg). Each has an offensive rating higher than 110.

Florida relies heavily on their three-point shooting as 39.1 percent of their points this season came from three-pointers, the third highest mark in the nation. Luckily, the Gators were a good three-point shooting team, hitting on .390 percent of their attempts, 19th best in the country. The Gators have four players who attempted 120 or more three-point shots this season: Boynton (246), Walker (175), Beal (167) and Erik Murphy (120). Two Gators, Boynton (.427) and Murphy (.442) had three-point field goal percentages above .400.

Unfortunately for the Gators, they rank 119th in defensive efficiency. Florida allows opponents to shoot a high percentage (48.9 effective field goal percentage, 176th in the nation), especially from behind the three-point line where teams have shot .356 percent this season. Florida also ranks 188th in turnover creation and 132nd in defensive rebounding.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK:

Florida’s first round match-up with Virginia will be an interesting clash of styles. The Cavaliers are a basically a mirror-image of the Gators, boasting the fifth ranked defense and the 106th ranked offense. Virginia has done an excellent job defending the three-point line, allowing opponents to shoot just .295 on three-point attempts (13th best in the nation). The Gators will have to rely less on the three-pointer, so Patric Young (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 apg) will have to have a big day if the Gators are to advance to the round of 32.

Kerron Johnson’s Belmont Bruins are not your typical 14-seed.

Belmont (27-7) – 14-seed in the Midwest Region

Computer Rankings: 23rd (KenPom), 33rd (Sagarin)

After losing to Wisconsin in the first round of last year’s tournament, Belmont is back for more. The Bruins are in the tournament for the fifth time since 2006 and are looking to notch a victory for the first time. This could definitely be their year.

The Bruins, winners of 14 straight, are one the strongest 14 seeds in recent memory. They’re ranked No. 23 by KenPom, which equates to being a 5-seed. That’s rough news for Georgetown, a team that has lost to 10-seed Davidson, 14-seed Ohio and 11-seed VCU in their last three tournament appearances.

The Bruins are deep and experienced. Eight players average at least 13 minutes of action per game, and all eight of those players saw time in the last year’s NCAA Tournament game.

Belmont also has a highly efficient offense. The Bruins rank 13th in offensive efficiency overall and four players have an offensive rating higher than 115.0. The Bruins shoot a very high percentage (55.7 effective field goal percentage, fifth in the nation) and turn the ball over at a low rate (17.6 turnover percentage, 35th in the nation).

The Bruins are led by junior Kerron Johnson (14.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5.2 apg). The 6-1 guard has a superb offensive rating of 121.0 and leads the team in both scoring and assists. Johnson’s assist rate of 33.6 is the 47th best mark in the country.

Senior Drew Hanlen (10.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg) is one of the sharpest shooters in the country. Hanlen ranks ninth in effective field goal percentage (65.1) and 14th in true shooting percentage (66.3). The 5-11 guard is a deadly three-point shooter, he connected on .481 percent of his attempts behind the arc this season.

Senior Scott Saunders (10.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) , the team’s sixth man, is the best rebounder on the Bruins. Saunders grabbed 10.4 percent of available boards on offense, and 22.8 percent on defense. The 6-10 forward also averaged 10.2 points per game in just 17 minutes of action.

TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK:

I think the Bruins have a pretty good chance of knocking off the Hoyas. Even though Georgetown has been vulnerable to early round defeats, I think my previous statement says more about Belmont than it does the Hoyas. Belmont is a highly skilled team, much better than a typical 14 seed. I don’t think too highly of San Diego State or NC State, so I think the Bruins actually have a pretty good shot of reaching the Sweet 16 in St. Louis. Experience and strong guard play goes a long way in the NCAA Tournament, and Belmont has both.

As always, all tempo-free stats came from KenPom. All other stats came from ESPN.

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It’s All About the Brow: Anthony Davis Sweeps the SEC Awards

Freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist both made the all-SEC first team.

FIRST TEAM

F Anthony Davis, Kentucky: 14.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.7 bpg

Anthony Davis was outstanding this season. The native Chicagoan is going to rack up a lot of awards and honors in the next few months: first team All-America, National Player of the Year, National Unibrow of the Year, No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, etc.. More on Davis later.

F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: 11.9 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 apg

Kidd-Gilchrist might be the second best freshman in the country, but he also happens to be the second best freshman on No.1 Kentucky. As outstanding as Anthony Davis has been, Kidd-Gilchrist has been great in his own right. The future top-five pick is an all-around stud with one hell of a motor. Kidd-Gilchrist’s offensive rating of 111.o ranked eighth among SEC players who used at least 20 percent of their team’s possessions. The 6-7 forward also ranked among the SEC’s top 25 in effective field goal percentage (49.8), true shooting percentage (56.0), offensive rebounding percentage (10.3), defensive rebounding percentage (17.3) and block percentage (3.3).

G John Jenkins, Vanderbilt: 20.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.1 apg

The sharp-shooting junior was one of the most efficient offensive players in the country. Jenkins’ offensive rating of 127.3 ranked first in the SEC and fifth in the country among players who used at least 20 percent of their team’s possessions. The 6-4 guard was one of the best shooters in the SEC and the entire country. Jenkins led the SEC in points per game (20.2) while ranking second (behind Anthony Davis) in effective field goal percentage (63.8) and true shooting percentage (67.0). He also ranked eighth in the nation in effective field goal percentage and 12th in true shooting percentage. Jenkins shot a blistering .461 percent from behind the arc (third in the SEC), and led the conference in three-pointers made (118). He also was second in the SEC in free throw percentage (.849).

G Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt: 17.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.8 apg

Taylor teamed up with teammate John Jenkins to form one of the sharpest-shooting duos in the country. Taylor, the SEC’s second leading scoring (17.1), ranked sixth in effective field goal percentage (59.2) and ninth in true shooting percentage (60.2). Taylor shot .451 percent from three, the fourth highest mark in the SEC. His offensive rating of 114.5 was best among the 14 SEC players who used at least 24 percent of their team’s possessions.

G Kenny Boynton, Florida: 16.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.5 apg

Boynton was the most-efficient guard in the Gators’ crowded, talented backcourt. The 6-2 junior ranked second in the SEC and 29th in the nation in offensive rating (125.2) among players who used at least 20 percent of their team’s possessions. Boynton is an accomplished scorer. He was the fourth leading scorer in the SEC (16. 8 ppg) and ranked fifth in both effective field goal percentage (59.9) and true shooting percentage (62.2). He also ranked fourth in three-point percentage (.434) and second in three-pointers made (102).

Gators Brad Beal and Erving Walker both made the all-SEC second team.

SECOND TEAM

F Terrence Jones, Kentucky: 12.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.9 bpg

F Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: 16.1 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.1 apg

G Bradley Beal, Florida: 14.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.0 apg

G Erving Walker, Florida: 12.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.7 apg

G B.J. Young, Arkansas: 15.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.3 apg

Trae Golden is one of two Volunteers on the all-SEC third team.

THIRD TEAM

F Patric Young, Florida: 10.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.2 apg

F Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee: 12.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.2 apg

G Dee Bost, Mississippi State: 15.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 5.3 apg

G Trae Golden, Tennessee: 13.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.5 apg

G Doron Lamb, Kentucky: 13.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg

AWARDS

Never shave it, Anthony.

Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Um, Anthony Davis is pretty good at basketball. Let’s start on offense. Davis’ offensive rating of 138.1 was No. 1 in the SEC and No. 2 in the nation. He was first in the SEC and fourth in the nation in effective field goal percentage (66.7), and first in the SEC and fifth in the nation in true shooting percentage (68.4). The 6-10 freshman also ranked ninth in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage (11.7), first in turnover rate (9.3) and sixth in free throw rate (55.4). On defense, no player impacted the game like the unibrowed Chicagoan. He was the best shot blocker in the country, ranking first in blocks per game (4.7) and third in block percentage (14.7). He also averaged 1.4 steals per game and ranked 14th in the SEC in steal percentage (2.7). Say what you want about the one-and-done rule, but it’s been a ton of fun watching Davis play at the college level this season.

I’ll use any excuse I can to get more Derrick Rose on this blog.

Coach of the Year: John Calipari, Kentucky

Yes, John Calipari is coaching the most talented team in the country, but if your team goes a perfect 16-0 in conference play, you’re going to win coach of the year in that conference every time. Calipari has led the young and immensely talented Wildcats to 30 wins and a No. 1 ranking.

As always, all stats come from Ken Pomeroy’s amazing website.

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Yes, the Pac-12 did play this season: Handing Out Awards in the Pac-12

Aussie Brock Motum was one of the Pac-12’s best players this season.

First off, let me admit that I watched a small amount of Pac-12 basketball this season. There are a couple reasons for this. One, not many Pac-12 games are on TV in the Midwest. And two, I haven’t been very motivated to seek out Pac-12 basketball, it’s been pretty mediocre this season. So, for good or bad, my picks are based mostly on tempo-free stats.

Having not watched Pac-12 basketball this season, I was surprised to see that Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez was named the conference’s Player of the Year. I put Gutierrez on my second team. I know those type of awards usually go to a player on the best or second-best team in the conference, but I thought Cal teammate Allen Crabbe, and maybe even Justin Cobbs, was better statistically than Gutierrez. On to the awards:

FIRST TEAM

F Brock Motum, Washington State: 18.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.7 apg

The junior forward was highly featured in the Cougars offense. He ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in minutes played (80.6), fourth in possession percentage (28.8) and second in shot percentage (29.0). Of the four Pac-12 players who used at least 28 percent of their team’s possessions, Motum had the highest offensive rating (108.2). The native Australian was an efficient shooter, ranking fifth in effective field goal percentage (58.6) and third in true shooting percentage (61.8).

F Andre Roberson, Colorado: 11.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Roberson was one of the best rebounders in the nation this season. His 11.2 rebounds per game ranked first in the Pac-12 and fourth in the nation. The sophomore grabbed 30.4 percent of available boards on defense, the best mark in the Pac-12 and second best in the entire country. His offensive rebounding percentage of 13.4 was good for third in the Pac-12. Roberson also ranked first in the conference in blocks per game (1.9) and fourth in block percentage (7.1).

G Terrence Ross, Washington: 15.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.3 spg

The talented Ross was the best player on the Pac-12’s best team. More on him later.

G Jared Cunningham, Oregon State: 18.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.6 apg

Cunningham was the Pac-12’s leading scorer in 2012, edging out Motum by .1 points. The junior guard also led the Pac-12 in steals per game (2.6) and steal percentage (4.2). His steal percentage was the 27th best in the nation. Cunningham was effective getting to the free throw line, ranking third in the Pac-12 in free throw rate (64.9) and fouls drawn per 40 minutes (6.6). He shot .755 percent from the charity stripe.

G Devoe Joseph, Oregon: 16.8 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 apg

The former Golden Gopher had a solid senior season for the bubblicious Oregon Ducks. The 6-4 guard was highly efficient, ranking third in offensive rating (118.1) among Pac-12 players who used at least 20 percent of their team’s possessions. Joseph was third in the Pac-12 in points per game (16.8), sixth in effective field goal percentage (58.1) and fourth in true shooting percentage (61.4). His turnover rate of 15.4 ranked third among Pac-12 point guards.

Jorge Gutierrez is one of two Cal guards on the second team.

SECOND TEAM

F Solomon Hill, Arizona: 12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.7 apg

F E.J. Singler, Oregon: 13.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.2 apg

G Jorge Gutierrez, Cal: 12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.0 apg

G Allen Crabbe, Cal: 15.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.1 apg

G Kyle Fogg, Arizona: 13.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.3 apg

Sophomore Devon Collier was highly efficient for the Beavers.

THIRD TEAM

F Devon Collier, Oregon State: 12.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg

F Josh Owens, Stanford: 12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.0 spg

G Justin Cobbs, Cal: 12.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.1 apg

G Tony Wroten, Washington: 16.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg

G C.J. Wilcox, Washington: 13.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg

AWARDS

Sophomore Terrence Ross won an uninspiring race for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Player of the Year: Terrence Ross, Washington

Honestly, I had no idea who to pick for this award.  There were more than a few Pac-12 players who had very solid seasons, but nobody had an all-around, eye-popping campaign. In a situation like this, I feel the safest pick is the best player on the best team. So, I went with Washington’s Terrence Ross.  The sophomore didn’t even lead the Huskies in points, rebounds or assists, but I felt he was their best and most talented player. Ross ranked sixth in the Pac-12 in points per game (15.3) and fifth in rebounds (6.6). He also ranked among the Pac-12’s top 25 players in offensive rating (108.8), effective field goal percentage (52.6), defensive rebounding percentage (17.8), turnover rate (16.5), block percentage (3.0) and steal percentage (2.3). Ross didn’t do a whole lot to separate himself from the pack, except for being on the regular season champion. Solid cases could be made for Brock Motum, Jared Cunningham, Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe or Devoe Joseph.

Tony Wroten was solid this year, but definitely has room for improvement.

Freshman of the Year: Tony Wroten, Washington

I might have been a little harsh on Wroten by putting him on the third team. On the surface, his per games averages of 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.0 steals look great, especially considering he’s a freshman. Wroten had a huge impact on the court – he used 33 percent of the Huskies’ possessions, the eighth highest mark in the country. A closer examination of Wroten’s numbers shows some holes in his resume. Wroten was inefficient and prone to turnovers.  He ranked 60th in offensive rating (95.0) and 56th in turnover rate (22.0) out of the 75 Pac-12 players who played at least 40 percent of their team’s minutes. Wroten ranked 39th in effective field goal percentage (46.1) and true shooting percentage (49.3) out of the 45 Pac-12 players who played at least 60 percent of their team’s minutes. The freshman shot a dismal .184 percent from behind the three-point line (49 attempts). Wroten was effective in getting to the free throw line – he was second in the Pac-12 in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (7.0) – but he shot just .575 from the charity strip.

Andre Roberson was the second best defensive rebounder in the nation.

Defensive Player of the Year: Andre Roberson, Colorado

The sophomore big man led the Pac-12 in rebounds and blocked shots per game. He grabbed 30.4 percent of available boards on defense, the best mark in the Pac-12 and second best in the entire country. Roberson ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in block percentage (7.1).

Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes finished fifth in the Pac-12 this year.

Coach of the Year: Tad Boyle, Colorado

Colorado was picked 10th in the preseason Pac-12 media poll after losing Alec Burks and Cory Higgins to the NBA.  However, Boyle was able to lead the Buffaloes to a 11-7 conference record and a fifth place finish. Colorado is 19-11 and probably headed for the NIT.

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Respect Your Elders: Seniors Rule Our End of Season Big East Awards

West Virginia’s Kevin Jones is one of four seniors on the all-Big East first team.

FIRST TEAM

F Jae Crowder, Marquette: 17.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 apg

Crowder was an all-around stud for the Golden Eagles this season. The senior averaged 17.6 points a game while ranking second in the Big East in both effective field goal percentage (58.7) and true shooting percentage (61.7). His offensive rating of 123.5 ranks second in the Big East and 42nd in the nation among players who used at least 20 percent of their teams’ possessions. The 6-6 forward stepped out for 155 three-pointers this year, connecting on a decent .361 percent of the long-range shots. On the defensive end, Crowder grabbed 20.5 percent of available boards, the seventh best mark in the Big East. He also ranked 19th in block percentage (3.2) and fifth in steal percentage (4.2).

F Kevin Jones, West Virginia: 20.0 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 1.3 apg

Because the Mountaineers have had their worst year in the Bob Huggins’ era, Jones’ outstanding season has gone a bit under the radar. But Jones has put on an All-America type season, leading the Big East in both points and rebounds per game. More on Jones later.

F Kris Joseph, Syracuse: 14.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.7 apg

This was a tough call between Joseph and Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley. But in the end, it didn’t seem right to have zero Syracuse players on the first team. Syracuse went 17-1 in Big East play – the best mark in conference history – and Joseph was the Orange’s top player. Joseph, Syracuse’s leading scorer, had the fifth best offensive rating (115.0) among Big East players who used at least 20 percent of their teams’ possessions. The native Canadian also ranked among the Big East’s top 25 in turnover rate (11.7), steal percentage (2.7) and true shooting percentage (55.0).

G Jeremy Lamb, UConn: 17.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.7 apg

The defending champion Huskies have had a disappointing season, but you can’t really put the blame on sophomore stud Jeremy Lamb. The lengthy guard has put together a terrific season despite playing on what seems to be a dysfunctional team. Lamb has the fourth highest offensive rating (115.5) among Big East players who used at least 20 percent of their teams’ possessions. He ranks eighth in the conference in effective field goal percentage (55.2) and fourth in true shooting percentage (58.9). Lamb has made .605 percent of his two-point field goal attempts, but just .328 percent of his three-point attempts. However, the guard has taken 186 three-pointers this season, the sixth most in the Big East. Lamb and the Huskies could both benefit from a reduction in his three-point attempts.

G Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette: 18.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.8 apg

Johnson-Odom is one of four seniors to make the all-Big East first team. At a time when college basketball seems to be dominated by one-and-done superstars (i.e., Kentucky), that’s a welcome sight. Johnson-Odom ranked second in offensive rating (110.2) among Big East players who used at least 24 percent of their teams’ possessions. The former junior college star led the Golden Eagles in scoring, while ranking 16th in the conference in effective field goal percentage (53.6) and tenth in true shooting percentage (57.5). He was also the seventh best three-point shooter (.401) in the Big East.

SECOND TEAM

F Jack Cooley, Notre Dame: 12.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg

F Hollis Thompson, Georgetown: 13.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.5 apg

G Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: 14.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.0 apg

G Maalik Wayns, Villanova: 17.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.6 apg

G Jason Clark, Georgetown: 14.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.8 apg

THIRD TEAM

F Gorgui Dieng, Louisville: 9.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.2 bpg

F Herb Pope, Seton Hall: 15.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg

G Scoop Jardine, Syracuse: 8.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 4.9 apg

G Dion Waiters, Syracuse: 11.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.6 apg

G Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall: 16.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.7 apg

AWARDS

Player of the Year: Kevin Jones, West Virginia

I can’t punish Kevin Jones for not being on one of top teams in the Big East, his performance this season was too outstanding. Jones had a first-team All-America type season, leading the Big East in both points and rebounds per game. The young Mountaineers have relied heavily on Jones all season. The senior has been on the floor for 93 percent of West Virginia’s total minutes played, the tenth highest mark in the country. His offensive rating of 124.6 is No. 1 in the Big East and 35th in the nation among players who used at least 20 percent of their teams’ possessions. The senior forward has been a beast on the glass – on offense and defense. He ranked fourth in the Big East in defensive rebounding percentage (22.0) and seventh in offensive rebounding percentage (12.9).

Freshman of the Year: LaDontae Henton, Providence

Henton averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a game for Providence. The 6-6 forward rarely saw the bench this season – he was on the floor for 92.4 percent of the Friars’ minutes played. The freshman ranked 25th in the Big East in effective field goal percentage (52.0), 23rd in true shooting percentage (54.8) and 18th in defensive rebounding percentage (16.8).

Defensive Player of the Year: Fab Melo, Syracuse

After a disappointing freshman year, a slimmed-down Melo was one of the most dominant shot-blockers in the country this year. The Brazilian tallied 87 blocks, averaging 3.1 per game. Melo ranked first in the Big East and fourth in the nation in block percentage (14.02).

Coach of the Year: Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Most people had low expectations for the Fighting Irish going into this season. Then the Irish lost their best player, Tim Abromaitis, for the season due to injury, and expectations went even lower. By mid-January, Notre Dame was 11-8 and 3-3 in the Big East, and the Irish looked to be on the bubble for the NIT. But then, Brey’s Irish defeated No. 1 Syracuse, sparking a 10-2 finish to the regular season. Notre Dame is now the No. 3 seed in the Big East tournament and a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. For that, Brey is easily the Big East’s coach of the year.

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Buckeyes and Tar Heels Offer Reminders: Weekly Rankings and Championship Week Thoughts

New Flash: Harrison Barnes and the Tar Heels are still really good.

WEEKLY RANKINGS

1. Kentucky (30-1)

2. Syracuse (30-1)

3. Kansas (26-5)

4. North Carolina (27-4)

5. Duke (26-5)

6. Ohio State (25-6)

7. Michigan State (24-7)

8. Missouri (27-4)

9. Marquette (25-6)

10. Wichita State (27-5)

11. Georgetown (22-7)

12. Michigan (23-8)

13. Baylor (25-6)

14. Wisconsin (23-8)

15. Indiana (24-7)

16. Temple (24-6)

17. UNLV (25-7)

18. Murray State (30-1)

19. Memphis (23-8)

20. Creighton (28-5)

21. Florida State (21-9)

22. New Mexico (24-6)

23. Gonzaga (25-5)

24. Florida (22-9)

25. St. Louis (24-6)

Frantz Massenat and Drexel might be left out the NCAA Tournament if they lose to VCU tonight.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

– Since most of this week’s match-ups are still to be determined, I’ll fore go the games of the week section for some random thoughts:

– When Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall, Jared Sullinger and William Buford all decided to return to college for one more year, the expectations for North Carolina and Ohio State shot through the roof. Most people expected to see two of the best college basketball teams of the last 10 or 15 years. While they came into the season with immense hype, both squads seemed to slip under the radar after some high profile slip-ups (UNC got blown out by Florida State on the road and blew a double-digit lead to Duke at home; Ohio State lost at home to Michigan State and Wisconsin). But this past weekend, the Tar Heels and Buckeyes reminded us all why we all placed such high expectations on them in the Fall. North Carolina avenged their loss to Duke by blowing out the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor, clinching the outright ACC regular season title. Ohio State got payback on the Spartans, coming back from a double-digit first half deficit to beat Michigan State and earn a share of the Big Ten regular season crown. It was a nice way of saying, “don’t forget about us, America.”

– I’ve seen a lot of college basketball writers say the loser of tonight’s CAA championship game between Drexel and VCU will still make the NCAA tournament. I’m really not sure about that. While I’d like to see both teams in the NCAA tournament, I’m not sure the loser of tonight’s game will have the resume to make it in as an at-large. No one seems to think Middle Tennessee or Iona will make the NCAAs after they got knocked out of their conference tournaments on Sunday and both those teams have incredibly similar resumes to Drexel and VCU.

Drexel: 27-5, 16-2; RPI: 67 SOS: 282 Vs RPI Top 50: 0-1 Vs RPI Top 100: 4-2

VCU: 27-6, 15-3; RPI: 63 SOS: 234 Vs RPI Top 50: 1-1 Vs RPI Top 100: 4-4

Middle Tennesee: 25-5, 14-2; RPI: 45 SOS: 207 Vs RPI Top 50: 0-1 Vs RPI Top 100: 3-3

Iona: 25-7, 15-3; RPI: 46 SOS: 157 vs RPI Top 50: 1-1 Vs RPI Top 100: 5-3

Personally, I’d much rather see all these successful mid-majors be rewarded with tournament berths over mediocre high-major teams like Seton Hall, Texas and Miami. But, the chances of that are slim-to-none.

-You can jump off the Wichita State bandwagon if you want, but I’m staying on for the long haul. I still like the Shockers to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, barring an awful placement in the bracket (i.e, an early round match-up with Kentucky or North Carolina).

– Power Conference Tournament Picks:

ACC: North Carolina

Big 12: Missouri

Big East: Marquette

Big Ten: Indiana

Pac-12: Washington

SEC: Kentucky

– These are the best two weeks of the sports year, enjoy ’em.

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T-Rob Takes It All: Handing Out End of the Year Awards in the Big 12

Thomas Robinson was the Big 12’s best player this season.

FIRST TEAM

F Thomas Robinson, Kansas: 17.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.1 bpg

T-Rob is a definite first team All-American and one of the two main contenders (along with Kentucky’s Anthony Davis) for national Player of the Year. More on Robinson later.

F Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri: 13.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Ratliffe has been one of the best offensive players in the country this year. He has the 12th best offensive rating (127.9) in the country, and is the national leader in effective field goal percentage (70.8) and true shot percentage (71.1). As Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated noted this week, Ratliffe has done the vast majority of his offensive damage right at the rim. Through 17 Big 12 games, the senior forward hadn’t even attempted a shot outside the paint. Ratliffe has been one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation as well, ranking first in the Big 12 and 23rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (15.1). His defensive work has also been above average. He ranks fifth in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage (19.7) and 11th in block percentage (3.9).

G J’Covan Brown, Texas: 19.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.9 apg

Brown is a scorer first – he leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.6 points per game –  but the junior guard has also done a good job distributing the ball to his teammates without turning the ball over much. His assist rate of 25.5 ranks 10th in the Big 12 and his turnover rate of 15.6 ranks 15th. Brown is a vital part of the Longhorn offense. He uses 27.8 percent of their possessions and takes 31.6 percent of the shots when he’s on the court. His offensive rating of 114.1 ranks second among Big 12 players who have used at least 28 percent of their teams’ possessions.

G Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas: 17.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 4.9 apg

Taylor’s career at Kansas has been an interesting journey full of twists and turns. But the senior guard turned in his best and most consistent season this year. Taylor’s role increased and he responded to the greater responsibility by improving his effective field goal percentage (51.9 to 55.9), increasing his assist rate (27.4 to 30.3) and lowering his turnover rate (26.7 to 22.1). Taylor has taken more than twice as many three-pointers this season (50 in 2011, 123 in 2012) and his three-point percentage has improved from .380 to .431.

G Marcus Denmon, Missouri: 18.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.2 apg

Denmon led Mizzou in scoring and was the best guard in the Tigers’ four-man backcourt this season. The senior was one of the Big 12’s elite offensive players in 2012, ranking second in offensive rating (128.0), fifth in effective field goal percentage (58.5),  fourth in true shooting percentage (62.8) and second in turnover rate (9.1). The 6-3 Denmon was also the best defensive rebounding guard in the Big 12, collecting 13.8 percent of available boards on defense. He also ranked tenth in steal rate (2.7).

Royce White led the Cyclones in points, rebounds and assists this season.

SECOND TEAM

C Jeff Withey, Kansas: 9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.2 bpg

F Royce White, Iowa State: 13.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 5.2 apg

F Perry Jones, Baylor: 13.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.3 apg

G Rodney McGruder, Kansas State: 15.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 apg

G Michael Dixon, Missouri: 13.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.2 apg

Steven Pledger might have been the best under-the-radar player in the conference.

THIRD TEAM

F Quincy Acy, Baylor: 12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg

G Keiton Page, Oklahoma State: 16.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.1 apg

G Pierre Jackson, Baylor: 12.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.7 apg

G Phil Pressey, Missouri: 9.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6.1 apg

G Steven Pledger, Oklahoma: 16.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg

AWARDS

Player of the Year: Thomas Robinson, Kansas

Robinson showed flashes of greatness last year coming off the bench in relief of the Marcus and Markieff Morris. With the Morris twins in the NBA, Robinson has been the main man for the Jayhawks this season – and he’s been outstanding. Robinson led the Jayhawks in scoring and was the best rebounder in the Big 12. He might have been the best rebounder anywhere, as his defensive rebounding percentage (32.0) was No. 1 in the nation. The junior forward ranked second in offensive rating (108.1) among Big 12 players who used at least 28 percent of their teams’ possessions. He also ranked 14th in both effective field goal percentage (53.7) and true shooting percentage (57.2). While he’s not the elite shot-blocker teammate Jeff Withey is, Robinson still protects the rim well, ranking 11th in the Big 12 in block percentage (3.8).

Quincy Miller edged out Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash for Big 12 freshman of the year.

Freshman of the Year: Quincy Miller, Baylor

The Bears’ prized recruit has been a efficient offensive weapon this season. Miller ranks third in offensive rating (109.4) among Big 12 players who have used at least 24 percent of their teams’ possessions. That’s a higher mark than Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor or Royce White.

Jeff Withey don’t give a shit.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jeff Withey, Kansas

The junior blocked exactly 100 shots for the Jayhawks this season. Withey’s block percentage of 14.8 ranked first in the Big 12 and second in the nation. He also ranked seventh in the conference in defensive rebounding percentage (19.1).

Robinson and Self both took home some individual hardware this season.

Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas

This was the year someone other than Kansas was supposed to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2004. Kansas lost four starters plus talented reserve Jose Selby from their 2011 Elite Eight team – but there wasn’t a drop-off. The Jayhawks went 16-2 in conference play this year and took home their eighth straight regular season Big 12 crown. Self deserves a ton of credit, this might have been his greatest coaching job to date.

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Do-It-All Draymond: Handing Out End of the Year Awards in the Big Ten

Draymond Green led the Spartans to a Big Ten regular season title.

FIRST TEAM

F Draymond Green, Michigan State: 16.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 3.6 apg

Day-Day has done it all this season for the Spartans, and done it all well. Green is a shoo-in for first team All-America and is probably third in the race for national Player of the Year – behind Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson. More on Green later.

F Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: 17.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.1 apg

Ohio State hasn’t had the dominant season many expected, but Sullinger has still had an outstanding season. The slimmed-down sophomore is hard to stop on offense. He is tied with John Shurna for the highest offensive rating (117.5) among Big Ten players who have used at least 24 percent of their teams’ possessions. He also ranks 13th in effective field goal percentage (56.7) and 11th in true shooting percentage (61.1). Sullinger has been one of the conference’s elite rebounders, ranking second in the Big Ten in both offensive (12.0) and defensive rebounding percentage (25.6). His defensive mark is good for 25th in the nation.

F John Shurna, Northwestern: 20.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg

As mentioned above, Shurna is tied with Sullinger for the highest offensive rating (117.5) in the conference. His shot may be ugly, but Shurna makes things happen on offense. The senior leads the Big Ten with 20.1 points per game, and ranks 15th in effective field goal percentage (56.3) and 14th in true shooting percentage (59.4). The 6-9 forward has excellent range, making .425 percent of his three-point attempts. Shurna has also been one of the Big Ten’s better shot-blockers, ranking seventh in block percentage (5.3).

F Robbie Hummel, Purdue: 16.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg

It’s been odd watching Hummel play this season without his old running mates JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore (both are currently on the Boston Celtics). But despite playing without those stars and having to recover from two season-ending ACL injuries, Hummel has had a strong finish to his Purdue career. The 6-8 forward has the third best offensive rating (116.0) among Big Ten players who have used at least 24 percent of their teams’ possessions. The fifth-year senior leads the Boilermakers with 16.8 points per game, but Hummel has also been valuable on the defensive end. Hummel ranks fifth in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage (20.8) and 10th in block percentage (4.7).

G Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin: 14.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.1 apg

Taylor came into the season as a preseason All-American, but he just squeaked onto the Big Ten’s postseason first team. It was a tough call between Taylor and Michigan freshman Trey Burke, and really, there isn’t a wrong choice. I gave Taylor the edge due to his aversion to turnovers, and the fact that the Badgers would be NIT bound, or worse, without him. Among Big Ten point guards, Taylor ranks fifth in assist rate (27.2) and first in turnover rate (12.0).

Michigan’s Trey Burke is one of two freshman on the second team.

SECOND TEAM

F Cody Zeller, Indiana: 15.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.2 apg

F Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: 15 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 0.9 apg

G Aaron Craft, Ohio State: 8.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.5 apg

G Trey Burke, Michigan: 14.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.8 apg

G Tim Frazier, Penn State: 18.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.3 apg

John Shurna gets all the attention in Evanston, but Drew Crawford has been great for the Wildcats.

THIRD TEAM

F Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan: 14.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.3 apg

C Meyers Leonard, Illinois: 13.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg

G Drew Crawford, Northwestern: 16.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.1 apg

G Lewis Jackson, Purdue: 10.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.2 apg

G Matt Gatens, Iowa: 15.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Honorable Mention: William Buford, Ohio State; D.J. Byrd, Purdue; Keith Appling, Michigan State; Brandon Paul, Illinois; Branden Dawson, Michigan State

AWARDS

Player of the Year: Draymond Green, Michigan State

As one would expect from the nation’s best conference, there have been a lot of great individual performances in the Big Ten this season. However, picking Draymond Green as the conference’s player of the year was a no-brainer. Green has done everything for the Spartans this season, as evidenced by the number of categories in which he ranks among the top 20 in the Big Ten. The senior forward ranks seventh in offensive rating (108.3), 18th in offensive rebounding percentage (8.3), first in defensive rebounding percentage (27.1), 13th in assist rate (22.8), 16th in block percentage (3.2) and 10th in steal percentage (2.8).

Cody Zeller will lead the Hoosiers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.

Freshman of the Year: Cody Zeller, Indiana

Trey Burke would be the best freshman in a lot of conferences across America, but Cody Zeller happens to also play in the Big Ten. Zeller has had a tremendous season for the Hoosiers, and it was hard leaving him off the first team. His offensive rating of 127.9 is first in the Big Ten and 12th in the nation among players who used at least 20 percent of his team’s possessions. Zeller has been an efficient scoring machine for Indiana. The freshman is the third in the Big Ten and 19th in the nation in effective field goal percentage (63.4), and first in the Big Ten and 10th in the nation in true shooting percentage (10th). He has also been a solid rebounder, ranking fifth among Big Ten players in offensive rebounding percentage (10.7) and 15th in defensive rebounding percentage (16.7). Zeller was also the Big Ten’s ninth best shot-blocker, posting a block percentage of 4.8.

Big Ten guards have nightmares about Aaron Craft.

Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Craft, Ohio State

Craft might be the best on-ball defender in college basketball. The sophomore averages 2.41 steals per game and ranks first in the Big Ten and 16th in the nation in steal percentage (4.61). Craft’s defensive prowess is more than steals, he has the ability to take an opposing team’s best guard out of the game.

Izzo did it again and the Spartans are a final four contender.

Coach of the Year: Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Michigan State was unranked in pre-season polls, and after the Spartans started the season 0-2, expectations were low in East Lansing. But, Izzo did his thing – again – and the Spartans are now regular season Big Ten champs, ranked in the top-five and in line for a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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