JF

Part two of our 76 Classic preview, a random cornucopia to prepare you for the weekend’s basketball smorgasbord.

The Stats

Eight statistics that you’ll want to remember while watching the tournament.

  • Minnesota has forced more turnovers than any team in the country (35.4% of defensive possessions) and is second in blocks and steals.
  • Butler hasn’t shot better than 47% from the field in any of their three games.
  • Texas A&M’s opponents are shooting a miserable 42.9% from the free throw line.
  • Clemson has nine players averaging at least 5 points per game.
  • UCLA‘s starters play a ton of minutes, averaging 30.3, 39.3, 35, 28.3, and 29.7 respectively.
  • West Virgina has played only two games prior to this tournament.
  • Portland has the 12th most efficient offense in the country, averaging 1.23 points per possession.
  • Long Beach State plays the 27th toughest schedule in the country. The composite strength of schedule of their opponents is #244.

The Story lines

Eight reasons to watch even if you don’t care about the specific games.

  • Minnesota hopes to put the off court headlines behind them and gain national attention for what should be an excellent basketball team.
  • Butler will become a final four favorite with a three game sweep.
  • Texas A&M could potentially play Minnesota, a match up of the other two schools caught, at least on the fringes, of the Billy Gillespie fiasco.
  • Clemson looks to secure some early season credibility.
  • UCLA looks to avoid a historically bad start.
  • West Virginia copes, and coalesces during the absence of Devin Ebanks.
  • Portland is trying to gain credibility before the West Coast Conference Quest.
  • Long Beach State coach Dan Monson started the coaching carousel that led to the hiring of Tubby Smith, former Kentucky coach Billy Gillespie, and present Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon.

The players

Eight players you’ll need to know about.

  • Rodney Williams has shown he is more than a dunker, averaging 15 points per game.
  • Gordon Hayward leads Butler in scoring and rebounding, and might just be a better version of Robbie Hummel.
  • Donald Sloan averages 20 points, four assists, and four rebounds while shooting better than 60% from the field.
  • Trevor Booker is averaging a double-double, and this is supposedly a slow start.
  • Michael Roll won’t leave the floor for UCLA, and played 49 of 50 possible minutes during his team’s loss to Cal State Fullerton.
  • Da’Sean Butler scored 26 points in his teams first game of the season along with 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 turnovers.
  • Nik Ravio is a player you’ll hear about in March. The Portland guard is averaging 19 points per game and has made 54.5% of this three pointers to go with 9 rebounds per game.
  • Larry Anderson leads Long Beach State in scoring, but his defense might be better. He leads the team with 4.3 steals per game.

The Bracket

If you played basketball in seventh grade you know the drill. Each team gets three games, the winners play the winners, the losers play the losers.

09Bracket

Bold Predictions

predictionsLet’s try to get out of this one without any point guard shoulder injuries.