Michigan St., Notre Dame rise; OSU falls in latest Power Rankings
Last Week: 1
|unibrow as a unit of measurement? They're still in the news: the University of Kentucky had to issue cease-and-desist letters to the folks selling them on eBay, and ordered Mr. Davis not to autograph them because they were being flipped for profit. (There are still more than 50 other signed Davis items on eBay, including a basketball that's awkwardly inscribed "#1 Player," but I guess that's beside the point.) |
Anyway, Davis' entire season has been a cease-and-desist letter to opposing shooters, as he's blocked a nation-leading 127 attempts. I've been able to review 118 of them on video, thanks to Synergy Sports Technology, and as part of my Year of Mostly Writing About Defense, I've been keeping a running chart of block location as well as splits on right/left hand, primary/help defender and whether or not Kentucky took control of the ball. This is latest Davis Swatmap™:
One trend Kentucky fans will like: The Wildcats have been keeping even more of Davis' blocks in their possession of late. The last time I published the chart, through Jan. 17's games, UK had kept 45 of 81 blocks. It kept 22 of the next 37. Davis still swats an occasional shot out of bounds for message-sending purposes, but he's been cutting back.
Next three: 2/18 vs. Mississippi, 2/21 at Mississippi State, 2/25 vs. Vanderbilt
Last Week: 2
|zone-charting spectacular covered what Fab Melo does well in the middle of the 2-3: Block shots and take charges. Because he's either lunging out at shooters or letting them run him over, his defensive rebounding percentage (13.5) is quite low for a 7-footer. That's just the reality of his role in the zone, and anyway, it's rare to find big men who are great shot blockers and dominant defensive rebounders. I put the primary big men* from my top 16 teams on the matrix below to show how it's more often one or the other. |
The moderately sized (6-foot-8ish) forwards like Kansas' Thomas Robinson, UNLV's Mike Moser and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger focus more on staying in good D-Rebbing position than ranging out to block shots, so they're in the bottom right corner. There's a limit to how many boards the super shot-blockers (Davis, Melo and Kansas' Jeff Withey) can realistically get, and North Carolina's John Henson is the guy who strikes the biggest balance between high-impact blocking and rebounding.
(Full names I didn't mention who appear on the grid: Florida State's Bernard James, Baylor's Quincy Acy, Georgetown's Henry Sims, Notre Dame's Jack Cooley, Indiana's Cody Zeller, Duke's Brothers Plumlee, Marquette's Jae Crowder, Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe, Wichita State's Garrett Stutz and New Mexico's Drew Gordon. Phew.)
Next three: 2/19 at Rutgers, 2/22 vs. South Florida, 2/25 at UConn
Last Week: 4
|Bracket Watch and their projected NCAA tournament regional sites: |
1. Missouri (to St. Louis): 124 miles
2. Syracuse (to Boston): 314 miles
3. Kentucky (to Atlanta): 380 miles
4. Kansas (to Phoenix): 1,170 miles
Since neither Kentucky nor Syracuse is likely to be bumped from the No. 1 line or the Atlanta/Boston sites, the biggest geographical prize up for grabs is a spot in St. Louis. The Battle for STL is between the Tigers and Jayhawks, with Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State also in the hunt. That lends some serious meaning to the Mizzou-at-KU rematch as well as a potential meeting in the Big 12 tournament final. The Tigers don't have to go through St. Louis to make the Final Four, but playing in front of a semi-home crowd for the regionals -- as opposed to a more evenly distributed crowd in Phoenix -- wouldn't hurt.
Next three: 2/18 at Texas A&M, 2/21 vs. Kansas State, 2/25 at Kansas
|total rebound rate -- the percentage of available rebounds a team grabs on both ends of the floor. Michigan State is first in the nation at 57.6 percent, with North Carolina a close second at 57.3. In TeamRankings' database, which goes back to 1997-98, only 10 teams have finished a season with a total rebound rate of 57.5 percent or above, and three of them were among Tom Izzo's finest productions: |
Next three: 2/16 vs. Wisconsin, 2/19 at Purdue, 2/22 at Minnesota
Last Week: 5
|ditching its classic jersey font in favor of a Trajan rebranding, but the change coincided with the school's first national championship in 20 years, so the complaints didn't have much legs. The Jayhawks haven't forgotten their past, though: They did an ode to the old font in '08 to honor Danny Manning's Miracles, and last week broke out retros celebrating the 60th anniversary of Clyde Lovellette's serif-free 1952 title team. They aren't my favorite throwbacks of the season -- Memphis' deep-necked script look is No. 1, with Iowa's script a close second -- but they add some blocky contrast to the retro grid:|
(Memphis, Cincy, Pepperdine and Kansas photos are from US Presswire. Iowa, Detroit, Xavier and New Mexico photos are from school web sites. Thanks to Twitter tipsters @HopHeadHawk, ErikYost_, @raphiellej, BIAHTroyMachir, billedelinSBN and RealClintSpaeth for help on the grid.)
Next three: 2/18 vs. Texas Tech, 2/22 at Texas A&M, 2/25 vs. Missouri
Last Week: 3
|about Ohio State's depth and opined that William Buford's shooting was a bigger problem than the Buckeyes' short rotation. Buford has been OSU's leading scorer for two of its past three games, but his efficiency is a big step down from where it was last season. This chart of his offensive rating's five-game running averages from Big Ten play makes it clear: |
Jared Sullinger's ORating has been more consistent over the past two years. He started off Big Ten play at a better clip than he did as a freshman, then stumbled before recovering to his standard 120-ish range:
Next three: 2/18 at Michigan, 2/21 vs. Illinois, 2/25 vs. Wisconsin
Last Week: 6
|SI preview, and the folks at Duke Hoop Blog just served up 12 games' worth of defensive data on the Blue Devils that includes all ACC play up to the win over North Carolina. The numbers are obviously unofficial, but they paint a picture of a backcourt without a standout defender and a frontcourt that's not dominant enough to clean up for the guards' miscues. (Duke ranks 78th in defensive efficiency this year, the lowest of any team in the kenpom era, from 2003-onward.) |
For the sake of unofficial comparison, we'll look at the Duke Hoops Blog frontcourt numbers against the Kentucky SEC data that's been compiled (and kindly shared) by A Sea of Blue's Jonathon Leverenz. First, the Blue Devils:
Player %DPoss DFG% Stop% Mason Plumlee 21.7 42.1 58Miles Plumlee 25.0 40.8 50Ryan Kelly 19.8 39.7 54
Miles Plumlee engages in the most possessions (DPoss%) but Mason is the best frontcourt defender -- and the team's best defender -- because 58 percent of his possessions end in stops. Now, let's examine Leverenz's Kentucky data from SEC play:
Player %DPoss DFG% Stop% Anthony Davis 25.6 31.0 63Terrence Jones 21.5 34.0 60Michael K-G 16.1 35.5 64
The Wildcats have a dominant defender (Davis) engaging in the bulk of their possessions, and opponents shoot about 10 percentage points worse against him than they do the Plumlees. Plus, Davis gets plenty of help from Terrence Jones and the team's second-best defender, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It's not surprising that UK has the best two-point field-goal percentage defense in the country.
Next three: 2/16 vs. NC State, 2/19 at Boston College, 2/23 at Florida State
Last Week: 7
Next three: 2/18 vs. Clemson, 2/21 at NC State, 2/25 at Virginia
Next three: 2/18 at Villanova, 2/22 vs. West Virginia, 2/25 at St. John's
Last Week: 31
Pretty surprising to see Iowa State at No. 1 on that chart, right? Fred Hoiberg is still building in Ames, but the stat suggests he's got some tactical chops.(A rankings note: The Hoosiers' 21-spot jump was more of a correction than due to anything that happened on the floor this week; the fact that they've beaten Kentucky, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan, plus sit at No. 12 in kenpom made a compelling case to have them in the top 10.)
Next three: 2/19 at Iowa, 2/22 vs. NC Central, 2/25 at Minnesota
Last Week: 12
Come NBA draft time, people are going to start asking, "Who's the next Jeremy Lin?" -- and a few Ivy League and/or Asian point guards will probably get more attention than they deserve. The best possible answer, according to kenpom.com similarity scores, is a 6-5 white guy playing in France: former University of Denver star Nate Rohnert, whose junior season was remarkably close to Lin's. Rohnert received an invite to Nuggets camp in 2010, went undrafted and headed overseas, where he's averaging 12.3 points for Denain ASC Voltaire. And despite being abroad, it appears that Rohnert is very aware of the phenomenon that is Linsanity.
(* Jeremy Lin scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting against Georgetown on Dec. 23, 2009.)
Next three: 2/18 at Providence, 2/21 at Seton Hall, 2/25 vs. Villanova
Last Week: 8
Next three: 2/18 vs. Kansas State, 2/20 at Texas, 2/25 vs. Oklahoma
|It was defense-first, ranking 75th in offensive efficiency and seventh in D. This season's Owls are the opposite, ranking 15th in offense and 97th in D -- and they play six possessions faster (that's a lot) than the 2010 team did. They might turn out to be a better team overall, too, since center Michael Eric is finally back to playing 20-plus minutes per game after being absent for a long stretch due to injury. He's already made a positive impact on their interior defense and rebounding numbers, and has them looking like a solid sleeper pick as a No. 5-ish seed in the NCAA tournament.|
Next three: 2/18 vs. Duquesne, 2/22 at La Salle, 2/25 at St. Joe's
Last Week: 17
|recent Where Are They Now piece on 1977 Marquette star Bo Ellis. Bo is now a scout for the Bucks, but the worthwhile part of the story regarded his interest in fashion design, and how that factored into his recruiting. According to the story:|
"[Coach Al McGuire] asked me what I wanted to major in and I told him fashion design," said Ellis. "Coach looked at me like, 'You're from the south side of Chicago and you're interested in fashion designing?'
"He didn't really react but I could tell his mind started to spin because he didn't know what he was going to tell me, because Marquette didn't have fashion designing. So he said, 'Let me check on some things.' "
What McGuire did was send assistant coach Hank Raymonds to Mount Mary College and arrange for Ellis to take a course in fashion design there that he would get credit for at Marquette.
Ellis went on to design Marquette's iconic "untucked" jerseys. He did the actual colored-pencil sketches and delivered the concept, which apparel company Medalist executed. Here's the away version, as it appeared on a 1976 SI NCAA tournament cover:
Next three: 2/18 at UConn, 2/22 vs. Rutgers, 2/24 at West Virginia
1. Atlantic 10 67.2
The Big Ten, like always, is the nation's most downtempo conference, but the SEC and Mo Valley are less than a possession faster.
Next three: 2/18 at Davidson, 2/22 at Illinois State, 2/25 vs. Drake
Last Week: 27
Next three: 2/18 at UNLV, 2/21 at Colorado State, 2/25 at TCU
The Next 16: 17. Florida State,18. Florida,19. Wisconsin,20. Michigan,21. UNLV,22. San Diego State,23. Louisville,24. St. Louis,25. Murray State,26. Cal,27. Memphis,28. Gonzaga,29. Virginia,30. Creighton,31. Washington,32. Harvard