Big Ten Wonk
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
It's the shooting, stupid
(3) Florida 73, (2) UCLA 57
In winning the national championship game against UCLA last night, the Florida Gators looked undeniably impressive. Now consider this: their shooting in this game (50.0 effective FG percentage) was below their season average (56.9 eFG pct.). Turning the ball over just six times, though, enabled the Gators to score 73 points in just 65 possessions. Joakim Noah led Florida with 16 points, nine boards, and, most emphatically, six blocks. (Box score.)

This team shot superbly the entire year. A week ago Sunday while the hoops nation was still working to comprehend the fact that George Mason really had beaten Connecticut, the Gators displayed their worst shooting of the season in the regional final win over Villanova. Truly, that game was as bad as Florida gets: 22 of 54 from the field, 4 of 17 on threes, a 44.4 effective FG percentage. Know what? That's not that bad. And when 44.4 is your eFG floor, you're going to win a lot of games.

I'd like to think that if this blog were named SEC Wonk I would have seen this coming, young team or no. Florida's inexperienced sophomores sprang out of the gates in calendar '05 shooting the way (59.9 eFG) they would shoot the entire year. Yes, some of those games were against less formidable foes (St. Peter's, Albany, Alabama St.) but some were against stiffer competition (Wake Forest, Syracuse, Florida State, Providence).

For the record, the two teams that shot even better than Florida this year: Samford and Air Force. But both those teams were POTs who traded threes for offensive boards. (Samford devoted 59 percent of their shots to threes--the highest percentage in the nation.) The Gators made their twos (55.9 percent), made their threes (39.2 percent) and grabbed a healthy share of the offensive boards (35 percent). When you do those three things, it doesn't matter if you turn the ball over on 21 percent of your possessions (which isn't awful but certainly isn't great).

Now we should have a playoff between the NIT and NCAA champs. South Carolina went 2-1 against Florida this season and lost the SEC tournament championship game to the Gators by just two points. But since that won't happen....

Congratulations to the Florida Gators, the National Champions of 2006 and indisputably the best team over the past three weeks.

BONUS raking of the ashes! Congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes, the "poison pill" of this year's tournament. Iowa lost to the team (Northwestern St.) that lost to the team (West Virginia) that lost to the team (Texas) that lost to the team (LSU) that lost to the team (UCLA) that lost to the national champion (Florida). For setting up a chain reaction of next-round defeats, I salute the men from Iowa City!

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
Hard to believe we're here already but I'm about to put the blog on its annual hiatus....

The farewell week continues!
Barring unforeseen developments, Friday's post should be the last one. I will then dutifully shut the old girl down for the off-season like a Bar Harbor lobster pound.

So here's the season-ending clip show! A look back at the year's three busiest days on the site counter. (Cue "Memory" from Cats!)...

Third-most popular post. Conclusion: one of these topics isn't so dull after all.

Second-most popular post. Conclusion: Indiana fans are rabid readers. Pander accordingly.

Most popular post (by a factor of two!). Conclusion: more clandestine interviews with anonymous sources. Next up: the guy (believed currently in hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan) who came up with the Applebee's ad.

Wonk back!
Don't just mutter ineffectually; email me!

This year's token and utterly insincere flip-flop--just to show I'm "open minded"
You write: "You don't have to choose between being Billy Packer or you-know-who. You can be Jay Bilas."...

Unless, of course, you're a Badger fan, about whom Mr. Bias has a five year hatred. He is damn near incapable of writing an article, no matter how tenuously linked, that doesn't slam them for their perceived "ruination of basketball' and theoretic constant slowdown. To Mr. Bilas, we're the Washington Generals at best....

Wrye M.

Bilas evil. Check. (I'm feeling pretty obsequious as the season winds down.)

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