As we head to the weekend, there are nine ACC men’s basketball teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament, via Bracket Matrix. Before you duck out of work early, here’s one number to know for each team.
Duke — 1
With Zion Williamson in the lineup, Duke is never out of a game. As the season progresses, though, we continue to see more and more from fellow future lottery pick Cam Reddish. In recent weeks, Reddish has really found his game offensively — while turning into even more of a defensive menace, too.
Over the last four games, 43 of Reddish’s 55 field goal attempts have been of the 3-point variety (78.1 percent of FGA). Reddish is 17-of-43 (39.5 3P%) on those looks, including 5-of-6 (83.3 3p%) from transition, per Synergy
In that span, Reddish has averaged 20 points per game on 65.1 percent true shooting. That’s do in part not only to his improved range shooting but also his ability to get to the rim and free throw line (3.3 FTA per game, 92 FT%). According to Synergy, Reddish is 6-of-6 on field goal attempts inside of 10 feet.
For a guy that’s struggled with his shot creation and ball handling this season — plus finishing through contact — stuff like this is so, so promising.
Defensively, he’s continued to massive strides. Reddish looks like one of the top defensive draft prospects in the country. At 6-foot-8, Reddish is long, rangy and can guard a bevy of positions and player types. He coils around off-ball screens, tracking and trailing spot-up shooters. Twice now he’s basically taken Kyle Guy out of the game, including last Saturday in Charlottesville.
Reddish has a steal in eight straight games; he has 16 games of 2+ steals. Over the last four games, Reddish has collected 10 stocks — steals and blocks. According to KenPom, Reddish ranks 33rd nationally with a steal rate of four percent. He’s also averaging 2.9 steals per 40 minutes, too.
Virginia — 1
In the words of Ian Eagle, “Do not go in there!” Everyone knows Virginia basketball to be excellent defensively, and for the Pack Line to really excel as a vehicle to control gaps and protect the paint. Once again, Virginia’s defense is great (No. 3 in weighted efficiency), and a part of that is the ability to make life miserable at the rim.
Opponent are shooting just 48 percent on non-post-up attempts at the rim, scoring 0.99 points per possession — No. 14 in the country. According to Synergy, only 32.2 percent of opponent half-court field goal attempts have been non-post-ups at the rim, which ranks fourth best in the ACC.
The Cavaliers don’t block a ton of shots, but certainly enough to get the job done — 11.6 percent block rate (No. 66). This effort has really been led by Mamadi Diakite (9.5 percent block rate), who is blocking an absurd four shots per 40 minutes in conference play.
North Carolina — 2
It was the worst kept secret in ACC basketball: Kenny Williams, one of the league’s to spot-up shooters from a season ago, struggled to start his senior season. As a junior, Williams drained 72 three-pointers (40.2 3P%) and scored 1.15 points per spot-up possession (58.2 eFG%), per Synergy Sports.
Through the first 14 games of the 2018-19 campaign, though, Williams was shooting just 24.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In that span, according to Synergy Sports, Williamson went a combined 10-of-41 on spot-up or transition 3-point attempts (24.4 3P%).
Since the win at NC State in Raleigh, however, Williams — who really does know where his shooting skills are best applied — has returned to form: 41 percent shooting from deep (4.4 3PA per game). He’s also gone 13-of-24 on spot-up or transition 3-point attempts (54.2 3P%).
In the "clutch" today (last 5 minutes + OT), Coby White had 14 points (4-6 FGs, 4-5 3s, 2-2 FTs), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 TOs, and a steal. Kenny Williams scored 5 on 2-2 shooting with 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
— Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid) February 9, 2019
This season, Williams has also showcased an increased role as a playmaker. He’s averaging 5.2 assists per 40 minutes — up from 3.1 last year. Now that’s dipped to 3.8 assists per 40 in ACC games, but it’s still a nice added bonus for a solid two-way player. Similar to last season, Williams has found a groove as a low-usage wing (16.1 percent usage rate) who runs the floor and improves the team’s spacing — next to Cameron Johnson and Coby White.
In 61 minutes in the White-Williams-Little-Johnson-Maye lineup, Coby White has scored 62 points on a TS% of 86.3 (17-25 FGs, 9-14 3s, 19-23 FTs). That lineup has an offensive efficiency of 125.4.
— Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid) February 11, 2019
Louisville — 4
Can Louisville shake off two straight devastating defeats: OT at Florida State and Tuesday’s crumble against Duke. Two Saturdays from now, Louisville travels to Charlottesville for a matchup with Virginia; KenPom gives Louisville a 36 percent chance of victory that afternoon.
Prior to that, Louisville hosts Clemson in a pivotal game this Saturday; the Tigers may need this game. Then it’s a road trip north to Syracuse.
A big point of focus for Louisville should be turnover avoidance. Over the last three games, one win and two losses, Louisville has posted turnover rates north of 20 percent. Not great. The Cards now rank 157th nationally in turnover rate, per KenPom. Duke stole the ball 12 times in the comeback win, including eight in the final nine minutes.
In the final 8:06 of the game, the longest Louisville went without a turnover was 1:43. This included a string of turnovers at 6:13, 5:54, 5:43, and 5:20.
— Mark Ennis (@MarkEnnis) February 13, 2019
Virginia Tech — 6
As we’ve discussed some previously, Virginia Tech’s offensive machine just doesn’t hum quite the same sans Justin Robinson. One of the best point guards in America, Robinson can kinda do everything offensively; he’s a dynamic pick-and-roll player, who can split a ball screen with ease, and hit from deep (43.9 3P% in ACC play).
In the four games without Robinson, the Hokies have had two of their worst offensive performances of the season — scoring under 0.9 points per possession against NC State and Clemson. It’s forced Nickeil Alexander-Walker to move to a far more ball-dominant role; Tech’s offense goes through NAW pick-and-rolls and high-post facilitation — along with Kerry Blackshear Jr. post-ups.
Alexander-Walker can pop as a passer, using either hand to fling laser all over the court; however, he’s probably not quite ready to run an offense as its lone perimeter creator, which is what he’s been thrust into now. Playing as a secondary option next to Robinson, who draws gravity as a spot-up player, too, make things much easier.
Prior to Robinson’s injury, NAW was a combined 31-of-72 on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts (43.1 3P%), per Synergy. Those looks accounted for about 31 percent of his field goal attempts, too. In the four games with Robinson sidelined, NAW is 7-of-16 (43.8 3P%). That’s a pretty high percentage, but it just requires more effort to get to those looks.
Florida State — 6
Things got a little out of hand this Wednesday as Florida State scored over 1.3 points per possession and dropped 14 dunks on Wake Forest.
Christ is just destroying Wake
— Blogger So Dear (@BloggerSoDear) February 14, 2019
It was the most recent data point in Florida State’s six-game winning straight. In five of those wins, FSU has scored 1.1 points per possession.
As usual, Florida State has attacked the rim this season. The Seminoles rank second in the ACC this season with 132 dunks — only four behind Zion Williamson (49 dunks) and Duke (136). Christ Koumadje and super-sized microwave scorer Mfiondu Kabengele have led the way here. Both guys rank inside the top five of the ACC in dunks this season, too.
Most dunks by a pair of ACC teammates this season:
83: Koumadje/Kabengele (FSU)
78: Williamson/Barrett (Duke)
48: Banks/Gueye (Ga. Tech)
46: Little/Brooks (UNC)
46: Nwora/Enoch (Louisville)
36: Funderburk/Dorn (NCSU)
36: Huff/Diakite (UVa)
— Adrian Atkinson (@FreeportKid) February 14, 2019
According to Synergy, Florida State has scored 1.29 points per possession (65.1 FG%) on cuts this season, which is good for 28th nationally and is tops in the ACC. Kabengele (69.2 FG%) and Koumadje (90.5 FG%) have been really, really good on basket cuts.
Syracuse — 9
Look, if you love basketball and don’t follow Fifth Factor Plots on Twitter, I don’t know what to tell you, and I can’t help you. As I have written about before, Tyus Battle is a great player, but the man who idolizes Kobe Bryant has a shot chart that would make the Mamba proud. He takes far too many long 2-pointers.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Perhaps Tyus Battle
Should keep taking Long 2's?
Maybe Long 2's are ok for some players, who should stick with it – this plot shows some players (above 0 on the y-axis) actually get more value from long 2's than 3's!
just not Nick Ward… pic.twitter.com/syFcIKRxQk
— Fifth Factor Plots (@5th_Factor) February 14, 2019
Battle’s 3-point attempt rate is under 30 percent; according to Synergy, 32 percent of the junior’s half-court jump shot attempts have come from 17 feet to the 3-point line. That right is the second highest rate in the ACC — behind only Nik Popovic. Battle’s 58 field goal attempts from this range are the most in the league by a wide margin. Chris Lykes of Miami — with 33 — is No. 2.
NC State — 10
After going 0-of-9 from deep in the embarrassing 24-point effort against Virginia Tech, Braxton Beverly has responded, excellently. Over the last three games, Beverly has gone 13-of-22 on 3-point attempts (59 3P%). As a sophomore, Beverly has turned into more of a straight spot-up shooter. (His assists per 40 minutes have dropped to 5.3 per 40 minutes).
Kevin Keatts: “That’s the guy that I believe in. … I wish every kid at NC State who I recruit could be Braxton Beverly. He works hard, he’s a great student and he’s low maintenance."https://t.co/yTWpp0cMhf
— Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53) February 14, 2019
Last season, 63 percent of Beverly’s field goal attempts came from beyond the arc; that rate has jumped to 73.2 percent in 2018-19.
Beverly has an effective shooting clip of 43.4 percent on half-court spot-up attempts, per Synergy. In transition, though, Beverly has absolutely lit it up: 17-of-26 3-point attempts (65.4 3P%). Only four of his transition field goal attempts have been 2-pointers. (3-of-5 3PA in transition the last three games)
Clemson — 11
After four straight wins, Clemson lost in heart-breaking fashion to Miami, 65-64. Despite the loss, Clemson’s defense remained sturdy against an undermanned Miami squad. Even with some likely bad luck — opponents are shooting 35.9 percent on 3-pointers — Clemson’s man-to-man defense has been really good: 0.81 points per possession (45.9 eFG%), according to Synergy.
Wake Forest and Georgia Tech both scored under 0.7 points per possession against the Tigers. Miami managed to score just 1.04 points per possession.