Midweek Stat Tracker: 12.3.09

StatTrackerWith the football season over (it's weird that so many teams are talking about post-regular season scrimmages, or "bowls," or whatever, right?), it's finally time to turn our attention to college hoops. Virginia set the ACC off to a rocky start in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, losing by 3 to Penn State (coverage of which was noticeably absent from StreakingtheLawn -- suffice it to say that Virginia dominated the first half, collapsed the second, and needed 2 extra minutes to complete the rally). But how is Virginia doing by the numbers? This brings us to the first Stat Tracker of the basketball season!

It's early to judge much of anything from these numbers, as most teams in the country are still working through their cupcakes and have anywhere from half a month to a month before true conference play begins. But that won't stop us from overanalyzing the numbers, as what else do we have to do as we wait between games?

Category

Rank

Actual

National Leader

Actual

Won-Lost Percentage

168

57.1

A lot

100

Scoring Offense

201

69

VMI

93.2

Scoring Defense

67

61.4

Delaware St.

50.8

Scoring Margin

112

7.6

Kansas

31

Field-Goal Percentage

97

46

St. Bonaventure

55.1

Field-Goal Percentage Defense

197

43.2

Texas

32.8

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game

175

6.1

VMI

13.4

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage

45

40.2

Iowa St.

49.6

Three Pt FG Defense

301

39.4

VCU

17.1

Free-Throw Percentage

105

71

Oklahoma

82.9

Rebound Margin

78

5.4

Southern Miss.

14

Assists Per Game

234

12.1

Syracuse

23

Assist Turnover Ratio

74

1.12

Eastern Ky.

2.24

Blocked Shots Per Game

244

2.6

Connecticut

9.4

Steals Per Game

277

5.6

VMI

14.8

Turnovers Per Game

19

10.9

Eastern Ky.

7.5

Turnover Margin

148

1

Houston

13.3

Personal Fouls Per Game

48

16.4

Mississippi St.

12.3

So what have we got here this week? If your eyes are like mine, you immediately scan the second column for the lowest number. Great, we're giving up fewer turnovers per game than the overwhelming majority of clubs out there. Not bad, but nothing to call home about.

With the giant red caveat that these numbers really don't mean anything this early in the season, I find myself looking at some of the defensive categories up there. We are letting teams LIGHT US UP from beyond the three, and this is perhaps the worst way to go down, because teams that can shoot threes are teams that win championships. Teams that allow teams to shoot threes are teams that ultimately go down in flames, regardless of how productive their own offense is.

I wasn't able to watch the entirety of the Penn State game, but I'm hoping that the reason teams are shooting so well from beyond the arc against us is because we are crowding the lane, something that I saw in our first few games. We've just got to find a way to transition that defense to protect the arc as well.

The good news is that our scoring defense is holding up, at 67th in the nation. The bad news, as was also the case in football, is that our offense has been unable to keep up with the defense. Now, to be fair, the number you see here, ranked 201st, is misleading, because even at our best, we do not expect Bennett's boys to be ranked at the top of the country. After all, his goal was to keep the defense running sharp so that the offense doesn't need those high-flying 90 point games to pull off the victory. So far it's been marginally successful. We'll say 4-3 successful. (For those keeping track at home, my predictions have already fallen apart.)

I've got more good news: after Auburn on Monday, the rest of our out-of-conference schedule should be gimmes. We face UNC-W, NJIT, Hampton, UAB, and Texas-Pan American, all at home. UAB can put together a decent squad, so perhaps it's unfair to call that a gimme. But regardless, come 2010, you should be feeling pretty good about our team.

Side note: Mike Scott is currently ranked 60th in rebounds per game (9.3) and 64th in field goal percentage (57.4). Keep it up, Mike!

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