Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Another night, another battle to the end for our warriors on the past Thursday night. Between sheer exhaustion from last night's game, and other outside factors (that may have been alluded to off-site to a certain mod ;-) ), this little writeup got pushed back more than I expected. Whether you like looking through this stuff, or see it as one more little bit of mojo, here you go. I'm just going to leave last night's performance alone and discuss our upcoming matchup with Xavier.
Xavier enters Saturday's game with a 30-6 record, entering the tourney as the West's #3 seed by way of an at-large bid. While the team won the Atlantic-10 Conference by 3 games in the regular season, a loss to St. Joes in the conference semi-finals necessitated the at-large. Xavier has defeated Georgia, Purdue, and West Virginia to advance to the Elite Eight.
UCLA and Xavier have faced one common opponent this season, Arizona State. Xavier suffered its worst lost of the year in the desert, losing 77-55 to the Sun Devils in Tempe. Entering the tournament, Xavier had played 9 games against tourney opponents, with a 4-5 record; a statistic that admittedly does not hold much significance as they have made it this far into the tournament regardless.
Going into the numbers...
Basic lesson is that Xavier is, according to the rankings, the most closely matched opponent we have yet faced in the tourney. If one gives significance to the ratings, Xavier is not simply a lucky team, but a legit team that well earned its seed, and its place in this round. Also, we have fallen behind Memphis in the Sagarin ratings, from #3 to #4, for whatever that is worth.
Now for the efficiency metrics and pace of play...
- Offense: 118.5 points/100 possessions (#10 in D-1)
- Defense: 90.9 points/100 possessions (#29 in D-1)
- Pace: 65.5 possessions/40 minutes
- Offense: 119.1 points/100 possessions (#7 in D-1)
- Defense: 83.4 points/100 possessions (#3 in D-1)
- Pace: 65.7 possessions/40 minutes
- Xavier: 78-60
- UCLA: 78-55
My references to UCLA's favorable matchup in terms of committing fewer fouls and of WKU's putting its opponents at the line more often certainly blew up in my face last night (outside of the final 2 minutes), so I hesitate to bring up any notable statistical advantages for the Bruins in this matchup. Honestly, there are not that many that stand out; one that does involves turnovers. Xavier has a particularly low percentage of defensive "possessions" that result in turnovers (19.1%, #272 in D-1). Xavier's ranking in regards to forced steals is consistent (#269 in D-1, with 8.5% of defensive "possessions" resulting in steals).
Looking at the specific numbers for Xavier's loss to Arizona State, as our one common opponent, that game was played at a slower than normal pace for Xavier, featuring their second-least efficient offensive perfomance, and the worst effective shooting % of the season. On the defensive side, Xavier played its least efficient game of the season, with an abysmal "Effective field goal %" of 71.4% (giving extra credit to made 3-pointers). Other than the fact that Xavier played an abnormally bad game that night in Tempe, I do not quite know what we can take from that performance in looking ahead to Saturday afternoon, other than if Shipp catches fire from outside, we draw a Ship-load (harhar) of fouls, and our defense plays as they have throughout most of the season, we will be in good shape. However, I doubt that is a daring insight that is unique to my own analysis.