The Sweet 16 for the 2023 NCAA Tournament is set. As teams set their sights on THE FINAL FOUR, what are some critical metrics for each remaining team?
The 2023 NCAA Tournament has not been short on theatrics. There were no true buzzer-beaters during the opening weekend, but there were plenty of shockers. Furman pulling off a steal and late 3 to beat Virginia, 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson knocking out top-seeded Purdue, and 15-seed Princeton taking down both Arizona and Missouri were among the highlights from the first four days.
The dust from the opening weekend has now settled, and now 16 teams remain. A sweet group of 16, you might say. Eleven different conferences are featured in the Sweet 16, including three teams each from the Big East and SEC.
NRG Arena in Houston awaits — but only for four teams.
What will it take for those teams to make it through the second weekend and onto the sport’s biggest stage of the Final Four? Here are the crucial metrics to track for each remaining team, as well as a look into each team’s recent performance and how it all relates to their Sweet 16 and (potential) Elite Eight matchups.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Key metric: Playmaking is a crucial cog in Alabama’s juggernaut offense (No. 8 nationally in assist rate). Thriving in that system has been key to the Crimson Tide’s success, especially when they’re racking up assists and taking care of the ball. When Alabama records 16 or more assists and commits turnovers on under 16.7 percent of possessions, the Tide are 10-0 with an average margin of victory of 27.1 points. They are 18-0 when posting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.1 or better (average margin: 23.7 points) and 19-0 when simply distributing 14 or more assists total.
Recent performances: Alabama is posting a 1.47 assist-to-turnover ratio in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide recorded 21 assists against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi but were limited to only seven assists in the win over Maryland. The Tide’s turnover rate in each of those games was below 17 percent. Over its current five-game winning streak, Alabama is dishing out 1.63 assists per turnover.
Looming matchups: Alabama faces San Diego State in the Sweet 16. The Aztecs rank 102nd nationally in turnover rate forced and 88th in assist rate allowed; they have surrendered 14 or more assists to only six opponents all year. If Alabama advances, it would face either Princeton or Creighton in the Elite Eight; both defenses rate in the bottom 30 nationally in turnover rate, but both units do limit assists well.
San Diego State Aztecs
Key metric: San Diego State deploys a physical, bully-ball style of play. While the Aztecs rank only 241st in average height, they are aggressive on the glass in seeking second-chance opportunities. They rank 82nd nationally in offensive rebounding rate and are 17-0 when notching an offensive rebounding rate of 32.2 percent or better (11-6 otherwise).
Recent performances: Charleston made a significant upset bid in the first round while limiting San Diego State to only a 23.5 percent offensive rebounding rate. Furman could not do the same, falling by 23 points as SDSU corralled 35.7 percent of its misses. Since Feb. 8, the Aztecs have reached that 32.2 percent mark in eight of 12 games.
Looming matchups: Looking at SDSU’s Sweet 16 opponent, Alabama ranks 141st nationally in defensive rebounding rate. The Tide have allowed nine opponents to post offensive rebounding rates of 32.2 percent or better this season; they have size, though, ranking 47th nationally in average height. The potential Elite Eight matchups, Princeton and Creighton, rank seventh and 13th in defensive rebounding rates.
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