BTN.com staff, March 22, 2016
We've reached the Sweet 16, and three Big Ten teams remain.
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Big Ten outright champ Indiana, Maryland and Wisconsin all advanced to their respective regional semifinals with a pair of wins last weekend.
Two of the teams draw No. 1 seeds (Indiana plays North Carolina and Maryland plays overall No. 1 Kansas), while Wisconsin faces No. 6 seed Notre Dame.
With wins Friday night, Indiana and Wisconsin would meet in the regional final with a Final Four berth on the line.
BTN researcher Harold Shelton takes an in-depth statistical look at the Big Ten's remaining teams and their Sweet 16 opponents.
– First Sweet 16 appearance since 2013 (lost as No. 1 seed to No. 4 seed Syracuse)
– 17th Sweet 16 appearance, tied with Michigan State for most among Big Ten teams
– Looking for first Elite 8 appearance since 2002, when they advanced to the national title game, also as a No. 5 seed
– 14th meeting against North Carolina, including third in the NCAA Tournament (1981 – Indiana beats North Carolina in national final; 1984 – Indiana downs Michael Jordan and North Carolina in Sweet 16)
WHY INDIANA CAN WIN
– Top 10 nationally in four offensive categories: efficiency (8th), Effective FG% (58.9% which ranks 2nd), 3-pt FG pct (41.6% which ranks 5th), 2-pt FG pct (56.6% which ranks 6th)
– 35.5% of their points come on 3-pointers
– 15th in offensive rebounding percentage (37.1%)
– Keep teams off the free-throw line (39th nationally in opponents free throw rate)
– Pretty good in defensive efficiency (54th nationally) and creating steals (56th nationally)
– North Carolina isn?t a good 3-point shooting team, ranking 308th nationally (31.4%), and its 222nd nationally in opponent's 3-point shooting (35.4%)
– North Carolina opponents to grab nearly 30% of their misses, which ranks 182nd nationally.
WHY INDIANA CAN LOSE
– Injuries. Robert Johnson hurt his ankle against Kentucky and didn?t return; he's questionable for this game. O.G. Anunoby (ankle) left the Kentucky game but returned while Juwan Morgan (shoulder) did not.
– Indiana turns it over on nearly 20% of possessions (273rd nationally)
– The Hoosiers don't get to the free-throw line much, ranking 256th nationally.
– North Carolina is ranked in the top 10 in offensive (5th) and defensive (10th) efficiency
– North Carolina lives in the paint and on the offensive glass, grabbing nearly 40% of their missed shots (4th nationally), while also ranking 11th nationally in block percentage and 22nd on 2-point shots (53.8%).
– The Tar Heels don?t turn it over, ranking 25th nationally in turnover percentage (15.4% of possessions), and they cash in at the free-throw line (74.2% which ranks 35th nationally)
– The Tar Heels are 15th nationally in average length of possession.
– North Carolina only allows opponents to shoot 44% on 2-point shots (ranked 23rd nationally) and they don?t allow teams to shoot many free throws (49th nationally)
– First Sweet 16 appearance since 2003 (lost as No. 6 seed to No. 7 seed Michigan State)
– Sixth all-time meeting against Kansas and just the second in the NCAA tournament. Only other meeting happened in 2002 Final Four, when No. 1 seed Maryland beat No. 1 seed Kansas, 97-88, on the way to the national championship (over Indiana).
– Looking for first Elite 8 appearance since 2002 national championship season
WHY MARYLAND CAN WIN
– 24th in offensive efficiency and 11th in effective field goal percentage
– 8th in 2-pt FG pct (55.8%) and 7th in FT pct (77.2%)
– 17th in block percentage and 14th nationally at keeping opponents off the free-throw line
– Underrated defensive team, ranking in the Top 50 nationally in efficiency (38th), effective field goal percentage (31st), 3-pt FG pct (32.1%, which ranks 46th) and 2-pt FG pct (45.4%, which is 49th nationally)
– Maryland has the fourth-tallest team in the country
– Kansas is just slightly above average in turnovers, ranking 146th in turnover rate and 133rd in forcing turnovers; opponents steal the ball 9% of the time, which ranks 235th nationally
– Kansas is below average at keeping teams off the foul line, ranking 182nd in opponents free-throw rate
WHY MARYLAND CAN LOSE
– The Terrapins don?t protect the ball (242nd in turnover rate; 19% of possessions) and don?t turn teams over (278th nationally)
– Maryland is struggling from distance, shooting just 10-of-41 in the NCAA tournament, including 1-of-18 last time out vs. Hawaii
– Kansas is ranked 10th in offensive efficiency, 8th in effective field goal percentage and 4th in 3-pt FG pct (41.9%)
– The Jayhawks rank 5th in defensive efficiency, 15th in effective field goal percentage and allow just 42.9% on 2-point shots (18th nationally)
– Kansas is overall #1 seed and hasn?t lost since Jan. 25 at Iowa State (won 16 straight games)
– Third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, the longest active streak in the nation
– 5th Sweet 16 appearance in last six seasons, only school to make that claim
– Second meeting between Wisconsin and Notre Dame since 1968 (lost on a neutral court in 2010) and first ever NCAA tournament
– Looking for third straight Elite Eight appearance, which would join Michigan (1964-66, 1992-94), Michigan State (1999-2001) and Ohio State (1962-64) as the only Big Ten schools with three straight Elite Eight appearances
WHY WISCONSIN CAN WIN
– 12th in defensive efficiency, Top 50 in 2-pt pct defense (44.9% which ranks 44th)
– Average more than 20 seconds per possession, which is the third slowest possession length on average nationally
– 7th slowest in tempo, will force Notre Dame to play at a slow pace. However, unlike Xavier, Notre Dame plays slow as well. They are in the bottom 30 in tempo as well (65.5 possessions per game while Wisconsin is 63.9 possessions per game)
– Notre Dame doesn?t make teams uncomfortable on defense, ranking 339th nationally in forcing turnovers and allowing teams to shoot 37.2% from deep, which ranks 302nd nationally.
– The Fighting Irish don?t do a good job on the defensive glass, allowing opponents to grab 31.5% of their misses, which ranks 263rd nationally.
– Notre Dame doesn?t get to the line much either, ranking 267th in free-throw rate.
WHY WISCONSIN CAN LOSE
– The Badgers allow teams to shoot very well from distance (37.5%, which ranks 312th nationally)
– Wisconsin struggles inside the arc, making just 46.6% of 2-point shots, which ranks 256th nationally; it ranks 233rd overall in effective field goal percentage.
– Notre Dame has one of the best offenses in the nation, ranking seventh in offensive efficiency, 29th in 2-point FG pct (53.1%), 28th in effective FG pct (54.1%), 45th in free-throw percentage (73.7%), and 53rd in 3-pt FG pct (37.2%)
– The Fighting Irish don?t turn the ball over (17th nationally), and they hit the offensive glass, grabbing 33% of their misses (65th nationally)
– Notre Dame doesn?t foul people, ranking 11th in opponents free-throw rate and it holds opponents to fewer than 46% inside the 3-point line