Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Day Thoughts: BYU's Rebounding Woes

Off to an interesting start today. Villanova is making things far too interesting in their game. They couldn't hit a shot, but they also were poor defensively. Robert Morris should not look like they're as athletic as Villanova. And Old Dominion pulled an "upset" that wasn't really an upset. What was more surprising to me than ODU winning was how they did it. I had picked ODU because of their offensive rebounding, and while it was good in this game the real reason they won was that Notre Dame's post defense was atrocious. ODU's paint offense seemed unstoppable.

But the real story so far today is BYU's poor performance. I'm high on BYU because they do three very important things well: they take care of the ball, they are an outstanding defensive rebounding team and they hit their free throws. The free throw shooting wasn't great for them, but it was fine today. And the ball handling wasn't awful, although Jimmer Fredette was uncharacteristically sloppy (including an inexplicably dumb turnover with about 30 seconds left in the first overtime). But most importantly, their defensive rebounding was terrible. On the season they were second in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, collecting 2.83 defensive rebounds for every offensive rebound allowed. But today that number was 1.44, with Florida collecting a shockingly high 16 offensive rebounds.

A few times the rebounds were just Florida players getting up higher, as BYU chose to go with a smaller lineup than they could have gone with. But occasionally it was bad boxing out, with Florida players coming in unopposed to the basket. And that just cannot happen. You have to wonder if BYU was just tight, after being told all week that the school had lost seven straight first round games. Next comes the big test, as the Kansas State game will be tougher for BYU than a potential Sweet 16 game. If they win their next one then they're going to the Elite 8.


JonL. said...

WoW! What a start to the tourney!

Holding your breath on ALL 3 games to start. But, wouldn't have it any other way. Great basketball to watch, although my blood pressure will be through the roof if this keeps up! LOL

I would be 1-2 if I hadn't read your takes on these games Jeff.

Jeff said...

Glad I could help, although I was very nervous about having a whole lot of angry people if BYU went down!

Goes to show you random some things are... How about Michael Loyd (a 62% free throw shooter on the year) nailing big free throw after big free throw in overtime, while Fredette then goes and missed two out of three in one short stretch?

awef said...

I wouldn't worry about your logic too much. Nate Silver (the PECOTA baseball statistic developer) has them going as deep or deeper than you on most of his polls. On the pool for his site ( he has BYU winning everything, though that pool has bonus points for upset picks.

JonL. said...

Man, hate that for Vandy. But what an amazing shot to win the game.

Jeff said...

Yeah, I was excited about it, even though it's going to make me end up 6-1 during the early games instead of 7-0. I mean, Murray State always plays teams close, so you knew that one of these years they were going to pull off an upset.

Honestly, if Vandy had a better 5 seed in their pod I'd have picked the Murray State upset. But I felt better about UTEP than I did about Murray State, and I hate the idea of putting a 12/13 seed in the Sweet 16. It's only worked out for me once in the last bunch of years (Arizona last year).

Jeff said...

But as I said, this is why Syracuse has an easier road to the Final Four than Duke. Look at who their Sweet 16 opponent is going to end up being. Duke is going to get a quality team in the third round, no matter who gets out of that pod.

Anonymous said...


Nice analysis man- I'm 7 for 7 so far- I had Murray State winning, but you convinced me to have BYU make a deep run and I followed your advice o nSt. Mary, so that's a plus.

That being said, looks like I'm about to get my first incorrect prediction of the tournament pretty soon- things aint lookin to good for UTEP.

Jeff said...

Yeah, what a disappointment UTEP has been in the second half. Butler has a history over the last couple of years of slow starts and fast finishes, but this game was more than that. UTEP just didn't even try in that second half. You always have to wonder what happens to the psyche of a team when they win so many straight games and then get a loss... what happens in their next game after that loss? Clearly UTEP is not the type of team that responds well to that.