Playing Time? Top Lineups on the Year

Games Played thru Tuesday, January 16, 2024

This week, we embark on an analysis of the top 3 most-utilized lineups in college basketball and the squad that just keeps rotating!

We will delve into the quantitative underpinnings of these rotations, exploring the percentage of possessions they consume and the underlying data that shapes their construction. While acknowledging the potential for intriguing anomalies, our primary focus remains on these dominant units, examining their composition and impact on the game.

At #3- Butler Bulldogs

Lineup: Jalen Thomas, DJ Davis, Posh Alexander, Jahmyl Telfort, Pierre Brooks II

Butler’s starting five, consisting of Thomas, Davis, Alexander, Telfort, and Brooks II, ranks third in the percentage of their team’s possessions used. This lineup utilizes 35.3% of Butler’s possessions on the season (449 out of 1281) and 34.9% of the team’s minutes. All five have started in each of Butler’s games, and four are averaging at least 27 minutes per game.

This Bulldogs lineup is responsible for 35.3% of their 80.2 points per game. They are averaging 1.136 points per possession, which is more effective than their opponents’ 1.089 PPP. For most teams with a lineup that plays a significant percentage of their minutes, there is an increase in pace for the second most utilized lineup. However, not the case for the Bulldogs; their second lineup averages over four possessions less than the starting lineup.

At #2 – Princeton Tigers

Lineup: Xavian Lee, Caden Pierce, Matt Alloco, Blake Peters, Zach Martini

Princeton’s starting five, consisting of Lee, Pierce, Alloco, Peters, and Martini, plays the second-most percentage of their team’s possessions in college basketball, occupying 36.52% of Princeton’s possessions (351/961) and over 222 minutes. All five average at least 27 minutes per game for the Tigers and have started every game.

This Tigers lineup averages 32.9 points per game, nearly half of Princeton’s 78.7 per game average while shooting 51.3% from the field and 41.8% from beyond the arc. Their 1.407 points per possession average outpaces their opponents’ 1.015 PPP. They also control the free throw line, sinking 71 of 85 attempts compared to their opponents’ 51 of 69. They also boast a +2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, averaging 6.7 assists against a mere 2.6 turnovers per game.

At #1 – Michigan Wolverines

Lineup: Dug McDaniel, Nimari Burnett, Terrance Williams III, Olivier Nkamhoua, Tarris Reed Jr.

The Michigan Wolverines claims the highest possession percentage in the country with their starting lineup of McDaniel, Burnett, Williams III, Nkamhoua, and Reed Jr. This unit has played 38.4% of Michigan’s 1203 possessions. Four of them have started every game they’ve played, while Reed Jr. has started all but one. Apart from him, the group averages at least 32.6 minutes per game. They account for 276 of Michigan’s 695 total minutes.

Despite their 7-10 record, this group has been impressive. They outscore opponents 35.4 to 31.6 points per game and shoot 49% from the field, including 43.1% from three. They also visit the free throw line more often, generating 26 more attempts (116 to 90) and converting at 73.3%. Their impressive 1.227 points per possession eclipse their opponents’ 1.095. Don’t be surprised if the Wolverines find their stride in Big Ten play.

At #362 – South Carolina State

In case you were wondering, South Carolina State holds the distinction of having the least utilized lineup by possession percentage yet having the highest percentage within their team. Despite playing only 27 of their 1316 possessions together (2.05%), this lineup remains the most frequently used unit for the Bulldogs.

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