By the Numbers: Kansas vs. Davidson

The stage is set for Bill Self's first Final Four appearance. Only a win over Cinderella team, Davidson, stands in the way of destiny for this Jayhawk team. Let's see how the numbers shape up.

Analysis: Last 5 Venue-Appropriate Games

The charts below illustrate the performance for each team over their last 5 venue-appropriate games. That is, KU non-home games and Davidson non-home games. The Big 12 Tournament was considered semi-home for Kansas, and thus those games are not included in this analysis. The red bar represents each team’s current Sagarin Predictor rating, which best represents team strength for the entire season. The “Performance” is calculated by taking the opponent’s Sagarin rating for the game and adding (subtracting) the margin of victory (loss) for each game. Home advantage is also factored into the rating for each game.

 

In this analysis, Kansas has outperformed its already stellar season average by about 3.1 points. The only time Kansas has performed below its season average in the last five games was its road game at Iowa State. Thus, KU has been playing quite well in this kind of venue of late. In fact, they are the #1-rated neutral team according to TeamRankings.com. Davidson has outperformed its season rating by a whopping 9.4 points over the last five non-home games. In two of those games, they performed over 105, which incidentally happen to be the only two times they performed above KU’s season average rating. The way Davidson is playing, they are certainly capable of beating Kansas even on a typical night for the Jayhawks.

 

Over the last five venue-appropriate games for each team, KU has been a mere 2 points better than DU, meaning this specific analysis projects a tight-fought battle down to the wire, with the Jayhawks punching their ticket to San Antonio.

 

 

Highlighted Efficiency Rankings
Note: There are 341 Div-I teams
(Source: KenPom.com)

Kansas

Offense #1 - Defense #4 - Tempo #114
Usually win the all-important eFG% category (#4 own, #11 defense)
Strong offensive rebounding (#20) and limit opp OREB% (#28)
Limit opp 2FG% extremely well (#4)
Great shooting from both 2FG (#6) and 3FG (#7)
Dominate the BLK category (#8 limit own, #5 block opp)
Rank #16 in STL% from opp
Very few 3FGA as % of FGA (#283), but opp take a lot (#283 limit opp 3FGA)
Very high % of FG's assisted (#42)
One of the taller teams, ranking #43 in Effective Height

Individual Player Highlights: (thru Mar 16)

Mario Chalmers - #22 eFG%, #172 AST rate, #17 STL%
Russell Robinson - #113 FT Rate, #48 STL%
Darrell Arthur - #105 OREB%, #112 BLK%
Darnell Jackson - #23 eFG%, #136 DREB%, #166 FT Rate
Sasha Kaun - #178 OREB%, #49 BLK%

Davidson

Offense #15 - Defense #37 - Tempo #137
Excellent shooting team (#21), particularly the 2FG% (#26)
Usually win the ball control game (#12 avoid own TO, #32 force TO)
Strong defensive rebounding (#31)
Very poor utilization of FT line (#321 FT Rate)
Hardly get any shots blocked on offense (#13)
Very rarely have ball stolen on offense (#25)
Opponents take very high percentage of FGA from 3FG (#279 limit opp)

Individual Player Highlights: (thru Mar 16)

Jason Richards - #10 AST Rate
Stephen Curry - #54 eFG%, #167 STL%
Max Paulhus Gosselin - #87 TO Rate, #115 STL%
Boris Meno - #126 DREB%, #198 BLK%
Andrew Lovedale - #194 DREB%, #118 TO Rate

Scoring Distribution:

On offense, KU relies most heavily on 2FG's, while its opponents rely extremely heavily on 3FG's.
On offense, Davidson relies heavily on 3FG’s and hardly at all on FT’s, while its opponents rely much more on 3FG’s at the expense of 2FG’s.

 

Bottom Line

If Davidson plays at about the level of its season average, then even a slightly off-night by the Jayhawks could still propel them into the Final Four. Can Davidson reach down deep, yet again, for the magic they’ve used in the Tournament so far? If so, they are capable of beating even KU’s typical performance.

If the first scenario unfolds and both teams play to about their typical averages, we would see KU getting much better shots, thus providing for a comfortable margin in eFG%. Although that would form the bulk of the Jayhawk advantage, we would expect a modest boost via an offensive rebounding edge. Ball control would be in the favor of Davidson, as it has been most of their season. A very sloppy game by KU, combined with some cold shooting could mean another heartbreaking end to a season at the brink of a Final Four.

The dream scenario for viewers would be a game where Stephen Curry and company pour their hearts and souls into one more magical performance, matching a focused Kansas team blow-by-blow to the end, with KU leading by a point and Curry taking one last shot for a chance at history. You can fill in the rest depending on which team you want to win.


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