Marquee Matchups

As 2023 draws to a close, college basketball fans are treated to a feast of high-level matchups! We’re diving into four marquee battles, each with a key stat that could swing the tide of victory. Buckle up, these final games before the new year promise not to disappoint.

Creighton’s Stat to Track: Points. 

In victories, Creighton has exploded offensively averaging 90.9 points per game, a stark contrast to their 59.3 point average in losses. Their offensive efficiency mirrors this trend, with a season-average 1.22 points per possession (PPP) that skyrockets to 1.33 in wins and plummets to 0.89 in losses.  

Marquette’s Stat to Track: Turnovers. 

Marquette suffocates opponents, forcing turnovers on a staggering 23.3% of possessions in wins, translating to a lucrative 22.2 points per game off those turnovers. This elite defensive stat ranks them among the nation’s best. On the flip side, Creighton forces opponents to turn the ball over at a very low rate.

Alabama’s Stat to Track: Points Per Possession.

Few teams can match Alabama’s offensive firepower. They shred defenses for an average of 1.26 points per possession (PPP), good enough for #3 in the NCAA. No matter the situation, the Tide light up the scoreboard: 1.22 PPP in transition, 1.17 PPP in late shot clock opportunities, 1.36 PPP after second chances, and a scorching 1.25 PPP after an opponents score. 

Liberty’s Stat to Track: Defensive Efficiency.

The Flames lock down opponents. They suffocate offenses, holding teams to a meager 59.5 points per game, putting them ninth in the country defensively.  Dictating the pace, they force opponents into taking a majority of their attempts in the last fifteen seconds of the shot clock (56.2% of opponent’s shots) with little success, as Liberty surrenders a low 0.91 PPP and 28% 3-point shooting during that stretch.

Wichita State’s Stat to Track: Rebounds. 

Wichita State is the nation’s 12th best rebounding team, averaging 43.5 per game and boasting a +8.4 rebounding margin. Their gritty hustle earns them over 13 offensive rebounds on average, ranking them in the Top 50 of the NCAA. This translates to nearly 41% of their shots coming at the rim, where they excel.

Kansas’s Stat to Track: Assists. 

Kansas is currently sitting at #2 in the nation in assists with an average of 21.4 per game. Their unselfish play is evident in their assist percentage, leading the NCAA with 73.0% of their buckets coming off dimes. Wichita State, averaging 13.6 assists allowed per game, faces the tall task of disrupting Kansas’s ball movement.

UNCW’s Stat to Track: Bench Points.

UNC Wilmington’s road success hinges heavily on their potent bench. In their six away games, the bench has poured in a staggering 220 points, averaging 36.7 points per game. This explosiveness far outstrips the national average of 84 points for road bench scoring, making the Seahawks a unique threat on any opponent’s court. All six of their top lineups have logged at least 20 minutes together this season, a level of cohesion that many NCAA teams struggle to achieve with even one lineup. (Yes. Arkansas has a deep bench as well.)

Arkansas’s Stat to Track: Free Throws.

Arkansas makes foul shots count, ranking among the nation’s best in free throw attempts and success. They currently sit at #8 in the country, averaging 26.7 attempts per game. But the Hogs aren’t just getting to the line, they’re cashing in: their 19.1 made free throws per game put them at #13 nationally. This translates to an impressive offensive free throw rate of 46.6%, good for a Top 10 spot. Nearly a quarter (24%) of their scoring comes from the free throw line, ranking them among the top 15 in the NCAA.

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