Games don’t get played on the stat sheet. The 2021 NCAA tournament is just the latest reminder of that, with the most wins by teams seeded 13th or lower picking up a win in the first round than in any tournament that came before it. On Sunday, top seeded Illinois lost by double-digits to Loyola of Chicago.
That said, analytics are still fun to look at. I was recently made aware of an analytics site, www.barttorvik.com. It’s in the same vein as KenPom.com, which has become an indispensable companion for any serious college hoops junkie, as well as the Vegas casinos who utilize Pomeroy’s data to help set their point spread lines.
Torvik has a section of his site that compares current teams to NCAA tournament qualifying teams from the past relative to their overall NCAA resume. I took a look at Oregon today, and noticed a couple of interesting names that I have highlighted:
The two highlighted teams should look familiar, because Iowa played those teams in the first round of the 2015 and 2019 NCAA tournaments.
Iowa beat Davidson by 31 points in 2015, and that is the largest margin of victory by an Iowa team over any NCAA opponent in school history. Davidson was the 36th ranked team in KenPom that season with the 7th best offense in the country.
Their 2019 game against Cincinnati was a little closer, but the Hawkeyes won that game by seven. The Bearcats were ranked 28th in KenPom that year and had the 42nd ranked offense and 28th ranked defense in the nation.
I admit these numbers may be apropos of nothing, but I find them interesting. Here is the link to where the data came from. For what it’s worth, here is the link to Iowa’s past NCAA resume comparisons.
Oregon is the 29th ranked team in the country with the 14th best offense and 65th best defense. They are a smallish team, but they are one of the Top 20 three-point shooting teams in the country. Davidson was Top 10 back in 2015.
I have spent some time the past day or so looking at some Oregon highlights this year and some game flow, and they look like a poor man’s Ohio State to me, or a much more offensively efficient Indiana but without an interior hammer like Trayce Jackson-Davis…but the Ducks are much better from three than either the Buckeyes or the Hoosiers. They are just as athletic relative to their perimeter defensive personnel as is Indiana but their overall defensive efficiency is more in line with Indiana.
I was very interested in seeing how they played USC’s Evan Mobley, who has size similar to Luka Garza. However, that game didn’t seem like it offered that much benefit, as USC jumped out to a 17-1 lead without Mobley, who is a likely lottery pick, being much of a factor.
I think we will see Oregon mix up some defense, relying mostly on man to man and doubling down on Garza with whomever is guarding Connor McCaffery, and the Ducks also trying to press and then falling back into a zone.
Oregon has won 11 of their last 13 games entering the tournament, but they had two stretches during the regular season where they were off for more than 10 days due to COVID, and they lost both of those first games back after those long breaks. When they take the court against Iowa on Monday morning, it will have been ten days since they last played a game.