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NCAA Double-Digit Dancing

   by Scott Spreitzer - 03/23/2011


No less than four double-digit seeds are still alive as we begin the Sweet-16. All four play on Friday and two of them, (11) Virgnia Commonwealth & (10) Florida State are matched up against each other. How did these four teams "crash" the Sweet-16 party is the question. I hate to put it in a nutshell, so to speak, but we can narrow it down to a common denominator - the dreaded three-point line.

Call me a traditionalist. But I believe one of the reasons for the decline of college basketball's quality of play, began when the 3-point shot became part of the landscape. I'm not against an "extra-point" being awarded for a long, difficult shot. But isn't it time to move the arc to the same distance that we have in the NBA?

Three of the four double-digit seeds are here in part because of their own above average 3-point shooting, or their opponent missing a high amount of treys, or both. Let's break it down.

Richmond has made 40-percent of their 3-pointers in the tournament, while their two opponents have made just 29.6-percent. Richmond is the only team of the four that has drilled the trey on the offensive end and defended their opponent's arc well all season long. The Spiders have made 39.9-percent of their 3-pointers this season, while allowing just 30.1-percent to the opposition. They rank 10th and 12th in those categories, respectively. Watch out Kansas!

But the rest of the remaining double-digit seeds have played over their head at one end of the floor or the other.

Marquette isn't a bad 3-point shooting team, ranked 114th in the nation. But while they made 35.6-percent during the season, they have made 10 of 23, or 43.5-percent in the Big Dance. The Golden Eagles were absolutely horrible with their deep perimeter defense this season, allowing teams to make 35.9-percent of their 3's. That's an ugly 258th in college baskets. But Marquette's first two tourney opponents, Syracuse and Xavier combined to make just 7 of 28, or 25-percent from the arc.

VCU is another acceptable 3-point shooting team, but they are making over 41-percent in three tourney games, while their opponents have made just 14 of 60, 23.3-percent. During the season, VCU ranked 178th in defending the trey, allowing a 34.3-percent success rate.

Then there's the case of the Florida State Seminoles. FSU made just 33.3-percent of their 3-pointers in 2010-11, yet have drilled 38-percent in the tourney. Not bad for the nation's 221st ranked 3-point shooting team. The 'Noles have been excellent defending the trey this season, allowing just a 30.1-percent success rate. But their Big Dance opponents have been beyond horrible. Notre Dame and Texas A&M combined to make just 11 of 55, or 20-percent from the arc.

The funniest thing I heard during the opening four days of the tourney came after Florida State beat Notre Dame, Marquette beat Syracuse, and VCU beat Purdue. All three times, the game announcers stated that the respective coaches of those three teams were "geniuses" at their trait. Hmmmm. I guess it had nothing to do with unusually strong results from the arc by their teams - and the unusually bad results by their opponents at the other end of the floor.

The question remains: Can Florida State, Marquette, and VCU continue their success, or "luck" from the arc? We know Richmond has done so all season at both ends of the floor, but they have the toughest draw (Kansas) of the remaining double-digit seeds.

I'm going to give VCU coach & hot coaching prospect Shaka Smart a pass. I believe he's the real deal. I'll give Richmond's Chris Mooney a pass, because his team has done the job from the arc at both ends all season. But calling Lenoard Hamilton and Buzz Williams "genius coaches?" I don't know about that. For some reason I keep thinking of the NFL's Mike Martz.

Best of luck this weekend. We'll be back after the Elite-8 to analyze the Final Four. We'll also begin to dive into the upcoming MLB season and look ahead to the NBA playoffs as the league enters the final weeks of the regular season

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