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Rematches To Advance to the Title Match

April 2, 2016

Quick hits on tonight’s NCAA Final Four games (Oklahoma vs. Villanova, 6:09 EST; North Carolina vs. Syracuse, 8:49 EST, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX, TBS). Both are rematches of regular-season tilts, with Oklahoma having lapped Villanova 78-55 in the Pearl Harbor Invitational, and North Carolina having beaten Syracuse twice this season, at Syracuse’s similarly cavernous Carrier Dome as well as in Chapel Hill on Senior Night. Both games present wildly contrasting styles and tempos; According the KenPom.com, speedy Oklahoma and North Carolina have AdjT north of 70.0 posspg, while deliberate Villanova and Syracuse have AdjTs south of 67.0 posspg.  Then there is the “dome factor” to figure in, specifically games at tonight’s venue NRG Stadium in Houston, where altered depth perceptions due to the vastness of the space inside appear to have affected shooting percentages in prior games played there creating what Ken Pomoroy labeled the “NRG Effect”. At first blush it would appear to favor the teams who rely less on the three pointer (teams collectively have shot only 32.2 percent of their 3-point attempts in 15 games), and the teams who rebound better.

Applying that to these games, Oklahoma as a team shoots .428 from three, good for #2 in the country, although Villanova actually has shot more threes this season than Oklahoma (#7 in the country in 3PA, compared to the #19 Sooners), and since both teams are roughly equivalent in rebounding (Oklahoma grabs 51.5% of their total rebounds, Villanova’s TRB% is 51.4), I’ll go with the team that makes more of the threes they take, Oklahoma in a tightly contested game. Plus, Oklahoma has Buddy Hield, and you don’t. Villanova’s best chance is to go against the NRG Effect and get hot from three, belying their season-long 3FG% of .354, and their center Daniel Ochefu could be also be an X-factor for the Wildcats, but he’ll have to play more than 21 minutes and be more productive than his 8 point/10 rebound game in Hawaii.

As for the nightcap, I’m not a believer in the theory that it’s any more difficult to beat a team three times in one season, as the two prior victories usually show inherent superiority, or a higher ability to adapt to changing circumstances and find different ways to beat the same opponent. Syracuse is much more reliant on the three-pointer than North Carolina, as 42.4 percent of their field goal attempts come from three (whereby North Carolina only attempts 26.8% of their field goals from three); Although the temptation for North Carolina to shoot an elevated number of threes is ever-present against Syracuse’s 2-3 matchup zone defense, the Tar Heels are #1 in the country in two-point attempts and total two-point attempts made, as well as #1 in total rebounding and #3 in total offensive rebounding. Combined with the historical weakness of zone defenses in rebounding on the defensive end, and I think Carolina wins this game going away. Unless Syracuse and Malachi Richardson do to North Carolina what they did to Virginia and ACC Defensive Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon – then all bets are off.

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From → Basketball, Sports

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