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Saturday, March 21, 2009

NCAA Second Round: Four Factor Preview

Posted by on Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 10:10 AM

#7 Texas vs. #2 Duke

Greensboro, NC

8:15 pm CBS

Texas presents the Devils with a bit more of a challenge than their first-round opponent, Binghamton.  The Longhorns are a dangerous team, with some untapped potential as they were ranked in the top 10 in both preseason polls.

The Blue Devils have by far a more balanced offense than the Longhorns.  Duke’s offense ranks in the top 50 on three of the four factors (Turnover percentage, Offensive Rebounding percentage, and Free Throw Rate) and in the top 100 on the fourth (effective Field Goal percentage).  The Longhorn offense relies much more heavily on offensive rebounding, where they rank 20th nationally, to get the job done.

On the defensive side of the ball a similar story can be told.  The Blue Devils are more balanced across the four factors, but they rely most on forcing turnovers and keeping their opponent off the free throw line.  Texas’ defense is built around forcing missed shots especially through blocks, where they rank fifteenth nationally.

One of the keys to the game should be offensive rebounding. Both teams offensively rebound the ball very well while only doing a mediocre job holding opponents off the offensive glass. Both Duke and Texas should look to take advantage of this important offensive category.

As their preseason ranking indicates the Longhorns do have the talent to knock off the Blue Devils. For Texas to have a chance they will have to block interior shots and forcing Duke to settle for longer jump shots.

Also, Texas must continue to shoot the ball well. A.J. Abrams was 8-15 on 3-point FG’s against Minnesota Thursday, helping elevate the Longhorns’ effective Field Goal percentage from a season average of 48.4 to 55 percent over their last 3 games.

#8 LSU vs. #1 UNC

Greensboro, NC

5:40 pm CBS

The offensive story of this match-up is very similar to the Duke game.  The Tar Heel offense is very balanced and equally potent in each of the four factors. The Tigers rely more heavily on not committing turnovers and rebounding their own misses to drive their offense.

Louisiana State doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well.  They make below the Division I average of two point baskets, 47.6 percent. One of the Heels’ main defensive flaws this season has been allowing opponents to make too many shots and unfortunately for the Tigers they may be unable to take advantage of this.

On defense the Tar Heels defend without putting opponents on the free throw line, they rank fifth nationally with a 24.8 Free Throw Rate. The Tigers keep opponents’ field goal percentages down by blocking shots, ranking ninth in the country, and then keeping opponents off the offensive glass.

Keep an eye on the Tigers’ active interior defender Chris Johnson. He blocks over 10 percent of opponents’ two point attempts, placing him 15th in the country.

If the Tigers are able to block shots well and keep the Heels from collecting those misses it will be the first step towards forcing North Carolina into a perimeter game, which is one of the few ways that the Heels’ offense can be contained. For the Tar Heels getting into transition will keep their super efficient offense running and prevent Louisiana State from forcing them to settle for outside shots.

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