Jeremy Lin's Shooting Woes

by Omar Shaik 23. November 2012 19:10

When Jeremy Lin got injured earlier this year, I believed he had the skills to make a strong return. In his brief but successful stint last season, Lin did not rely solely on athleticism, as many NBA players do. Instead, Lin was taking advantage of a very strong jump shot. The threat of his jump shot often forced players to play up on him, which helped Lin to get by perimeter defenders more easily. This has been Chris Paul's formula for success since returning from injury, and it's allowed Steve Nash to remain elite offensively despite slowing down with age.

Last season, Lin ranked in the top-7 in the NBA among point guards in FG% from 10-15 feet and 16-23 feet. He was more accurate from these distances than many household names, such as Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook. He demonstrated a jump shot that deserved to be respected, and teams adjusted accordingly.

After shooting a spectacular 45.9% on 2-point jump shots through his first 23 games as a starter last year, Lin shot 20% on 2-point jump shots through his last three games. The suddenly awful jump shot seemed inexplicable at the time, but it was passed off as a brief shooting slump. After all, three games are nearly meaningless statistically. Later, however, an MRI revealed that Lin had a torn meniscus, which sidelined him for six months. It was possible that his awful shooting was related to this injury.

Thus, there were no major red-flags regarding Lin's jump shot coming into this season, if looking only at his NBA resume. Everyone knew about the turnovers, but he has managed to take care of the ball better than last season (18% turnover percent, down from 21%). His assist percent to turnover percent ratio is not that different from the ratios belonging to Mike Conley and Brandon Jennings. Despite this improvement, he's been a much worse player; the crux of his offensive repertoire, his jump shot, has disappeared.

What started as a three-game problem last season has now extended through twelve games this year. Lin is shooting 22% on jump shots this season, and it doesn't get any prettier regardless of how you break it down.

Of the 16 jump shots Lin has made this season, 11 have been assisted. That may not sound strange, until you consider that only 12 of his 75(!) 2-point jump shots last season were assisted. Last season's Lin possessed a very rare skill, which is precisely why I thought he could bounce back strong from his injury.

He had the ability to make jump shots off the dribble at a very high clip, which is arguably the most difficult thing to do in the NBA. This season, Lin can't hit any kind of jump shots. He's 2 for 17 on short jumpers, and he never was a great 3-point shooter. He's shooting terribly whether he spots up or pulls up off the dribble.

It is possible that Lin simply isn't healthy yet, as some suggested at the start of the season. Maybe his problems are psychosomatic; perhaps the injury is holding him back mentally more than physically. Or maybe Lin isn't very good. After all, Linsanity lasted about 26 games, and Lin wasn't very good at the end of that stretch, as I mentioned earlier. It is still too early in this season, and in Lin's career, to truly know which is correct. I know many in the NBA and in New York are rooting for Lin to be awful, but I thoroughly enjoyed his rise from obscurity to prominence last season. For Lin to experience success again, he has to start by regaining the shooting success he had last season.

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Are the New York Knicks For Real?

by Omar Shaik 16. November 2012 19:03

While it's still early in the NBA season, the New York Knicks have looked very impressive so far. Their performance is even more impressive when you factor in the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on the NYC metropolitan area, prompting the cancellation of the Knicks' season opener against the Brooklyn Nets. Indeed, when the Knicks finally got on the court and blew out the Miami Heat, I wondered whether their energetic, feisty performance was a cathartic release of the city's frustration stemming from the hurricane. New Yorkers were in misery, and the Knicks were determined to give them something to celebrate.

As the Knicks continued to blow out 2011 playoff teams, my original hypothesis became increasingly less likely. No, the Knicks aren't simply playing hard for the beleaguered Sandy victims; they simply are very good. They are dominating on both ends, coming in first in Points Scored per 100 possessions and second in Points Allowed per 100 possessions through six games. They were the first team in the last 25 years to start 5-0 with double-digit victories. After narrowly defeating the Spurs on the road in a tough, playoff-like atmosphere, their average margin of victory is now 13.67 points, which is the best differential in the NBA. They are winning by the largest average margin in the NBA despite having played one of the toughest schedules. Their SRS (Simple Rating System), which incorporates both schedule strength and margin of victory, is an incredibly high 15.13, albeit only through six games. For comparison, the best full season SRS in NBA history belongs to the famous 72-win '96 Bulls, at 11.80.

Does this mean the Knicks are better than the '96 Bulls? Not even close in all likelihood, but it provides a good indication of just how shockingly dominant they've been in this young season. I say shockingly because it has been my conviction that any team built around Carmelo Anthony, because of his over-commitment to offense and under-commitment to defense, will always have an upper limit on its potential success. This conviction has served me well for the last 9 years, as Anthony's teams have alternated between mild success and unmitigated disaster.

This year could finally buck this trend. New York brought in multiple reputed defenders that could fit seamlessly into Coach Mike Woodson's defensive system, which was already one of the best defenses in the NBA last year. NBA teams primarily pay for points per game, so players who carry tremendous defensive value can often be signed for bargain-bin prices. Ronnie Brewer holds opposing players to a 36.1% FG%, according to Synergy Sports Technology, yet he's only costing the Knicks $1 million this season. To put Brewer's defense into context, note that All-NBA defender LeBron James is allowing players to shoot 31.3% against him.

Despite fielding one of the best defenses in the NBA last year, the Knicks parted with some of their worst defenders, such as Mike Bibby, Toney Douglas, and Bill Walker. They replaced them with better defenders in Brewer, Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni. Although Prigioni is new to the NBA, he has held opposing players to a 41% FG% so far, the same as Jason Kidd. The defensive emphasis from Coach Woodson has also influenced notoriously lazy defenders such as Carmelo, Felton, and J.R. Smith to buy in, at least so far. Indeed, Felton is holding opposing players to an even lower FG% than Brewer, at 30.9%, while Carmelo is holding players to a commendable 39%. Even JR Smith has been active defensively, as opposing players shoot 43% against him.

This defensive solidarity will be tested when Amare Stoudemire returns to action. Last year, the Knicks were significantly better with Carmelo, without Amare (+6.3 differential), than when they played together (-1.8 differential). Amare has suffered from major leg injuries throughout his career, which has sapped his lateral mobility, negatively affecting his defense. It could be a challenge for New York to maintain its league-leading defense with Amare playing extensive minutes. In addition, because some Knicks players are on the wrong side of 35, durability could become a concern, and their defensive tenacity could wane as the season moves along. It is also possible that the players' interest in exerting energy defensively could decline, too. This was a factor in their game against Orlando on Tuesday night, in which Carmelo repeatedly left shooters open and lost his player on back-cuts. This prompted Coach Woodson to call Carmelo over to scold him for these lapses, so it is uncertain whether Carmelo will actually play this level of defense for a whole year.

Even though the Knicks' defense was built by the GM to last, the offense remains unproven. Many players are scoring more accurately than they ever have. Jason Kidd shot 36% from the field over the last 2 seasons, and is somehow currently shooting 59%. This will not continue. Likewise, Ronnie Brewer is shooting 47% from 3, even though he has always struggled with his jump shot in the past. Ultimately, an offense that features Carmelo (Career FG% = 45.6%), Felton (41.2%), and J.R. Smith (42.8%) taking 50 shots a game is not likely to maintain its current top-7 FG% of 56%. In fact, last year the Knicks shot 44% as a team (18th in the NBA) with many of the same key players, so time will tell if things come back to Earth in New York.

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Celtics Win Ugly

by Jeff Fogle 17. April 2011 23:37

The New York/Boston game was so ugly to watch...that it just didn't seem right sticking it in the same post as Denver/Oklahoma City. I didn't want to offend the hustling playmakers of Denver/OKC. It's halftime of that game as I write this. BEAUTIFUL BASKETBALL! It's like Denver and OKC were the only top teams who got the memo that the playoffs started this weekend. New York/Boston? It felt more like Charlotte/Milwaukee on a cold night in January...

BOSTON 87, NEW YORK 85
Shooting Pct: New York 42%, Boston 44%
Three-Pointers: New York 8/23, Boston 5/13
Rebounds: New York 34, Boston 44

(Expanded boxscore is here)

It all added up to a nailbiter. Boston did it's "defense and rebounding" thing fairly well, holding the Knicks to 42% and winning rebounds by 10. They were very sloppy with the ball though (16 turnovers in a slow 88-possession game...compared to a poor 14 turnovers for New York). There were stretches so ugly that Butler/UCONN called and wanted royalties. The last few minutes were compelling...and Ray Allen hit another clutch three to put the Celtics over the top in the final seconds.

Some notes:

*Carmelo Anthony lived down to the worst comments of critics. He was just 5 of 15 from the floor. He turned the ball over 5 times. He managed only 4 rebounds in 34 minutes. He kept shooting treys after they stopped falling (2 of 8 from long range). Defensively, he committed 5 fouls while not doing much of anything productive. Then, with a chance to tie or win at the end, he put up a prayer from well behind the arc when the Knicks had time at the start of the possession to get a better shot. You know, from a guy like Amare Stoudemire who was 12 of 18 on the night. Or Toney Douglas who had just made a clutch trey seconds earlier. Or, Carmelo himself from a better spot on the floor if he hadn't burned a few seconds realizing he didn't actually have a plan.

*Chauncey Billups made it a dismal Denver duo with a 3 for 11 night from the floor (2 of 6 on treys), 3 assists, and 2 rebounds in 35 minutes. All that from Anthony and Billups and the Knicks still led almost wire to wire!

*Stoudemire looked and played great. It's as if he got his legs back, and was trying to take his leadership role back too. You could see why the Knicks were playing so well in the early stages of the season before he wore down from the load. He was WAY too quick for the Celtics inside. Amare was 6 of 8 at the rim. When he settled for jumpers, he was a very strong 6 of 10 from 10 to 23 feet.

*We talked a few weeks ago about New York's troubles in the fourth quarter and/or second halves of games vs. quality opposition. That was certainly in play here.

Fourth Quarter: Boston 28, New York 21
Second Half: Boston 48, New York 34

Once opposing defenses clamp down, the Knicks kind of disappear. And, the fourth quarter play-by-play log shows a lot of Stoudemire. So, it was the others disappearing this evening.

*The Celtics can't be too happy that they had so much go right in the numbers yet they barely won. Rondo didn't quite have his Superman cape on. But, he had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists...which is almost a triple double from a point guard. Ray Allen was 9 of 15 from the field, and 3 of 5 on treys. Paul Pierce made a couple of treys too. Yet, they still trailed all night! This was still the Boston team that was outclassed pretty badly by Chicago and Miami in recent games.

*Did want to note that Boston focused on offensive rebounding tonight. They generally blow that off and get back to play defense (as Steve Kerr was great at explaining in the first half). Here they had a huge 41.6 offensive rebound rate (15 offensive rebounds compared to 21 Knicks defensive rebounds). That suggests a lack of respect for the Knicks fast break, and confidence in their own edges on the board.

*Let me throw in some of the other stats we've been looking at for everyone this weekend. Both teams shot 45% on two-pointers for the evening. Both teams were exactly 16 of 33 for 48% on shots inside 10 feet. The final score on 1's and 2's was Boston 72, New York 61. New York has a 9-5 edge in made treys per game this season. It was 8-5 tonight. That extra trey they didn't make was the difference-maker in the final tally.  

This was a playoff game because the teams qualified for the playoffs. But, it didn't measure up visually to anything else we've seen this weekend. NY and Boston combined for the second worst shooting percentage (behind only Philly/Miami) and the most turnovers (a total of 30) of all the series openers. It was Charlotte/Milwaukee with bigger name guys on the floor. Boston didn't lift its game from recent form vs. the Eastern contenders. New York had the expected problems with "playoff style" basketball that many were expecting.

Back after Denver/OKC ends... 

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Sorting Out the Pieces...Sorta

by Jeff Fogle 7. April 2011 00:26

After a wild Wednesday, we may not know who will be seeded where in both the Eastern and Western Conference brackets. But, we know who's going to be IN the brackets. All 16 teams are set for the NBA postseason. And, a handful of games tonight even had a playoff feel to them...

The most prominent of the playoff-style games was New York/Philadelphia. This was probably the most important game of the night in terms of learning about two teams who were on the same court. The Knicks and Sixers are fighting for the 6th and 7th seeds in the East. That's a big deal because teams would rather play the aging Celtics than the James/Wade/Bosh Ghidorah in the first round. Heading in, the assumption was that Miami would get the #2 seed and Boston the #3, which means WINNING mattered!

When the Knicks jumped to a 19-point lead, and were seemingly in complete control of a low-tempo playoff style game, I was already preparing my "Hey, they only have to do this four times in seven to win a series" commentary. We were seeing the best of the Knicks in the post-trade period. They were defending with some semblance of energy. The offensive parts weren't stepping on each other's toes. The promise shown in that road win at Miami many weeks ago was back on the floor.

Then...Philadelphia came all the way back to take the lead!

New York entered the fourth quarter with a 78-65 advantage. With two minutes to go, it was Philadelphia 88, New York 87. That's a 23-9 run for the Sixers to start the fourth quarter. The Knicks would regather themselves and win 97-92 (thanks to seven points in the last minute). But, instead of seeing the best of the Knicks...we saw another example of a fourth quarter collapse.

Remember these fourth quarter disappointments?

New York 14, Memphis 26
New York 21, Indiana 21
New York 17, Detroit 29
New York 23, Milwaukee 25 
New York 17, Boston 33
New York 21, Orlando 32
New York 19, Milwaukee 20
New York 19, Philadelphia 27

Way too common to be a coincidence. The offense REALLY stagnates late in close games, particularly against teams who know how to defend. Opponents will trade baskets with the Knicks much of the way (Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire give away on the defensive end much of what they gain on the offensive end--Philly forwards Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young were 22 of 32 from the field tonight for example, Anthony and Stoudemire were 19 of 42). Then, with the game on the line, opponents clamp down defensively and the Knicks are in trouble.

Yes, Billups missed the fourth quarter tonight. But, he was on the floor for many of those other flame-outs. And, he only had 3 points and 0 assists in 24 minutes tonight anyway.

The Knicks may be able to bring defensive intensity four times in seven in a first round playoff series. Can they win a fourth quarter four times in seven? Against Miami or Boston?

Tonight from New York, you saw the potential of what was possible...followed by a slap in the face reminder about fourth quarter issues. From Philadelphia, you saw a team that couldn't play to expectations vs. Boston and New York on back-to-back nights. You just can't take the Sixers seriously as a Cinderella story. Gutty comeback. Failed comeback.

Transition Points

*Miami was stunned by Milwaukee 90-85 in a game that may end up having significant playoff ramifications. Even with Dwyane Wade sitting out, the Heat should win a game like this relatively easily. It's sure not one they wanted to do without. Miami is still neck and neck with Boston for the #2 seed and home court advantage in a projected second round meeting. 

The key difference in the boxscore was in the turnover category. Miami lost that 16-9. The biggest individual culprit was Mike Bibby with six. That's also the number of points as he scored in 31 minutes.

Miami falls a half game behind Boston for second spot. If the 82-game schedule ends in a tie, Boston owns the tie-breaker. But, Boston has to visit Chicago Thursday, and Miami Sunday. Should Boston lose both of those games...and Miami wins out...then the Heat will still get the coveted #2 seed even with tonight's loss.

Oh, saw something in cyberspace the other day regarding the offensive rebound totals of LeBron James and Derrick Rose. Fans and debators are looking for reasons to back various candidates in the MVP race. It struck many as a big negative for LeBron that he was neck and neck with Rose in a rebounding category. I have to admit I was surprised that a big guy like LeBron was about even with a little guy like Rose in that stat. I wondered how this year compared to others.

Offensive Rebounds per Game
This year: LeBron 1.0, Rose 1.0
Last year: LeBron 0.9, Rose 0.8
2008-09: LeBron 1.3, Rose 1.2

Holy cow! This isn't even anything new. It's been like that ever since Rose entered the league.

You see...neither guy is asked to be an offensive rebounder. They're shooters. You don't often rebound your own misses unless you miss pretty badly. And, within the nature of what their coaches want, both are asked to float back to play defense when a shot goes up rather than crash the boards. About once each game, a missed offensive shot happens to bounce near where each guy is standing.

It's like using stolen bases to compare two high quality baseball players, neither of whom is asked to steal many bases.

In high impact per game stats:
LeBron: 26.6 points, 7.0 assists, 6.5 defensive rebounds
Rose: 25.1 points, 7.9 assists, 3.1 defensive rebounds

Rose could end the season with more offensive rebounds than LeBron. That's far too distant an issue to impact an MVP discussion. Neither is asked to be an offensive rebounder because of their general position on the floor when shots go up, and because of their other duties on their teams. That particular stat happens to shed light on how those players are used more than shedding light on the MVP race. James won the MVP award the last two seasons by the way, even with his lack of offensive rebounds.

*Indiana wrapped up the 8th seed in the East with a rout of Washington. No surprise there...just wanted to mention it because it locks in the eight playoff teams in that half of the brackets. Well, the teams are locked if not the seedings. The same is now true in the West with New Orleans beating Houston Wednesday. A week left in the season, and we know who the 16 playoff teams will be. The pieces can't be sorted out yet...but we know who the pieces are.

*The biggest game in the West tonight was Denver-Dallas. We talked about the "interesting" potential in that matchup last evening. Denver bounced back from a home loss to Oklahoma City with a 104-96 victory. Here's what the standings now look like in the middle of the pack.

3...Dallas 53-25
4...Oklahoma City 52-26
5...Denver 48-30

Maybe it's a crop circle...or maybe it's the natural ebb and flow for Denver off a big win Sunday over the Lakers. The bottom line is that Oklahoma City does have a shot to catch Dallas for #3. Denver can help that along by losing Friday Night in Oklahoma City. Any team paying attention lately would rather play Dallas than OKC in the first round.

Games Remaining
Dallas: vs. Clippers, vs. Phoenix, at Houston, vs. New Orleans
OKC: vs. Denver, at Lakers, at Sacramento, vs. Milwaukee

Oklahoma City owns the tie-breaker because they're a division winner, even though Dallas won the regular season series 2-1. Dallas will be the runner-up in its division. NBA tie-breaker rules allow being a division-winner to trump head-to-head results. Dallas must stay head of OKC to get the third seed. Does Oklahoma City want to rise to #3? That leads to an easier first round but a tougher second round in terms of recent form across the West. You get the sense from watching the games that OKC is less afraid of the Lakers than Dallas is. Will be interesting to watch. (Note, this corrects an earlier version of the article that had Dallas winning the tie-breaker because of their 2-1 series win).


*The race at the bottom of the West just got a bit more interesting. Portland was stunned Tuesday night at home by Golden State. Then New Orleans won at home against Houston Wednesday to not only clinch a playoff spot...but to move into sixth place.

6...New Orleans 45-33
7...Portland 45-33
8...Memphis 44-34

New Orleans owns the tie-breaker over Portland with a 3-1 heads up record. Man, you don't want to finish 7th! That means a first round meeting with the Lakers.

Memphis currently owns a three-way tie-breaker with best conference record amongst the group. That currently goes Memphis-Portland-NO.

Games Remaining:
New Orleans: vs. Phoenix, at Memphis, vs. Utah, at Dallas
Portland: vs. Utah, vs. Lakers, vs. Memphis, at Golden State
Memphis: vs. Sacramento, vs. NO, at Portland, at Clippers

Yeah right, I'm going try and figure out the ramifications of that schedule late at night. All remaining games are within the conference, so a three-way tie would end up Memphis-Portland-NO in that order. Memphis already has the three-way edge, and would have to pick up a game to forge a three-way tie in the first place.

Wouldn't it be funny next week if Memphis at Portland is a game both teams want to lose because New Orleans kept winning? The 8th seed gets the Spurs, the 7th seed gets the two-time defending league champion.

*San Antonio wrapped up the #1 seed in the West thanks to the Lakers surprisingly lousy week. I wouldn't have spent all that time last week on the race for #1 if I knew the Lakers were going to take their foot off the gas for Denver, Utah, and Golden State. Interesting how the Lakers cooled off just as they were on the verge of rising into the tougher half of the Western brackets...

*Will be back late Thursday evening to talk about key stats from Boston/Chicago. Definitely one of the showcase games on the TV schedule between now and the end of the regular season...

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Nix "The Knicks Offense is Fine" Chatter

by Jeff Fogle 26. March 2011 00:44

This won't become a daily Knicks diary. But, I was reading some things around cyberspace that seemed to be missing a key point about New York's recent slide. Be careful falling into the trap of thinking the offense is just fine "based on the numbers." Here are some numbers that suggest otherwise...

17 points in 4th quarter vs. Detroit
23 points in 4th quarter vs. Milwaukee
17 points in 4th quarter vs. Boston
21 points in 4th quarter vs. Orlando
19 points in 4th quarter vs. Milwaukee

Yes, if you look at ALL the games since Carmelo Anthony joined the Knicks, you'd get the impression that the offense is great and the defense is horrible. That includes a few red hot games from long range...the early surge of enthusiasm after the trade...and the rest of the league trying to figure out how the heck they were going to defend what they thought had become a two-headed offensive monster with multiple arms that can make treys

The league adjusted...the enthusiasm war off...and you can't count on being hot from long range on command.

In the fourth quarter...WHEN IT MATTERS...when it isn't just trading baskets back and forth through the evening in wormanlike fashion (which can look great in efficiency measurements)...the Knicks offense has run into a brick wall.

Yes, the defense is atrocious. The offense is too. When it matters. That's why New York is 1-8 its last nine games.

This is a tough stretch of opposing defenses New York has been facing. They may go back to making three's and having more fun in upcoming games. Four of the next five are against Charlotte, New Jersey, Cleveland, and Toronto.

Let's keep an eye on how Chauncey Billups runs the offense. It's like he's back in Detroit. The current halfcourt style...which basically takes turns isolating Anthony or Amare Stoudemire...has turned the team in to a one-headed monster at any given moment. Good NBA defenses know how to defend one-headed monsters, particularly in the fourth quarter of close games.

Transition Points

*Derrick Rose had the city of Chicago chanting "MVP..MVP" again Friday. That despite going 6 of 22 from the field, 0 for 5 on treys, and turning the ball over four times. He did score the last seven points of the game for the Bulls in a 99-96 victory over Memphis.

Comparisons to Allen Iverson in his prime are becoming more and more apt. That used to drive me nuts back in the day. Iverson earned all the "he's a warrior" praise with a zillion variations of 6 of 22 in close games vs. good teams. Make sure you see the negatives as you celebrate the many positives.

Rose is definitely a terrific talent. If all NBA contracts were declared null and void at midnight tonight, and all NBA players were re-drafted, would Rose go first? Can you find meaningful statistical differences this year between Rose and Russell Westbrook (they sit next to each other on this page)? It takes some significant rhetorical limbo to get a point guard on an offense that's only a point per 100 possessions better than league average as the MVP...particularly when it's DEFENSE that's taken the team to new heights...and he plays one of the least important defensive positions.

*Miami played a weird game with Philadelphia. They seemed to be turning a faucet on and off at will. Philadelphia would make a run...then Miami would storm past them. Philly would make another run. Miami would ignite again. Miami won the fourth quarter 34-17 to put the game away. Chris Bosh had an amazing plus/minus of +33 in 39 minutes. The Heat only won by 12! The team was minus 21 points in the nine minutes Bosh sat out.

*Boston continues to gift wrap the top seed for Chicago. The Celtics inexplicably blew the fourth quarter 30-15 in an 83-81 Friday loss to Charlotte.

The bench was an issue again. Glen Davis had a plus/minus of -13 in 24 minutes. Jeff Green was at -7 in 26 minutes. Delonte West was -9 in 18 minutes. The bench was handed a big lead...against a team that's shown little interest in trying to make the playoffs...and the game got away from them.

*Here's the updated race amongst the big three in the East:

1...Chicago 52-19
2...Boston 50-21 (2 games back)
3,,,Miami 50-22 (2.5 games back)

Boston is on the verge of falling to #3, which means losing home court advantage to Miami in a projected second round matchup. The Celtics are 4-6 the last 10 games. Don't think they anticipated that at the time of the Kendrick Perkins trade.

Chicago visits Milwaukee Saturday night. Miami hosts Houston Sunday. Boston has a back-to-back at Minnesota and Indiana Sunday and Monday.

*Let's catch up with March Madness. The playful prediction that none of the top seeds would reach the Final Four got three-fourths of the way there by the end of the Sweet 16 round. But, Kansas is now a heavy favorite to get through thanks to a schedule that included nobody better than a 9th seed.

Congrats to Charles Barkley for telling the world that Arizona would beat Duke before the game started, and that Kentucky would beat Ohio State. He's put at least a dozen prominent people to shame in the past two weeks just by applying common sense basketball in games that matter. Sometimes the fundamentals get in the way of the stories everyone wants to tell.

Updating the list we ran in our college digression about emphasis on three-pointers. I won't run all 16 teams again. Here are the ones that registered at 30% or better of their points coming on treys.

Wisconsin 36.0%
Virginia Commonwealth 34.6%
Richmond 33.7%
Butler 31.5%
Arizona 30.9%
BYU 30.6%
Ohio State 30.0%

Wisconsin, Richmond, BYU, and Ohio State are out.

Butler was only 5 of 18 on treys, but won because Wisconsin was 7 of 29.

VCU kept it going with a stellar 12 of 26 performance from long range in a 1-point overtime win over Florida State.

Arizona was an amazing 9 of 15 on treys for 60% vs. Duke.

Will the sine curve take out VCU and Arizona this weekend? Nobody at 30.0% or higher has reached the Final Four the last five seasons, and only two have done it since 2003. Butler finished at 29.9% last year, but will likely be over 30.0% if they make it this time around.

Since I took Thursday off because of the light schedule, I'll pop in for a late Saturday report to talk about New York-Charlotte, Chicago-Milwaukee, and the college games. Joe may add a college statistical element to HoopData down the road. Fun to pop in during the tourney this year. See you late Saturday...

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