Although there have already been some giant upheavals, it’s still early in Big East conference play. As the matchups heat up and the body blows add up, here are some numbers you need to know:
7.06% | The percentage of an opponent’s offensive possessions on which Louisville’s Russ Smith records a steal. Nation-wide, only Briante Weber from Virigina Commonwealth steals the ball more often. Rick Pitino and his pressure defense always create chaos, but this year they’ve been exceptionally disruptive; thanks in large part to Smith, the Cardinals are turning opponents over on 25.6% of their possessions, the 14th best mark in the nation. That’s pushed them to an Adjusted Defensive Rating of 84.6, which stands for 5th in the country. Also appearing on the list of the nation’s top ten individual thieves are Dion Waiters of Syracuse, Fuquan Edwin of Seton Hall and Anthony Collins of South Florida. It is not a good year to be bringing the ball up the court in the Big East.
15.59% | This is Fab Melo’s blk%, or the percentage of an opponent’s two point field goal attempts he blocks. It’s the 2nd highest in the nation, higher even than that of highly touted Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis. Melo’s defensive presence on the interior has helped Syracuse post some of their best defensive numbers ever. Ken Pomeroy has them ranked as the 9th best defense in the country and they’re holding opponents to just 42.0% on two-pointers. Those are scary credentials to be bringing into the heart of their conference schedule.
- 9.79 | This is how many fewer points per 100 possessions the Pitt Panthers are averaging without Tray Woodall. If you disregard the 18 ineffectual minutes he played last week against Notre Dame before re-aggravating his injury, the number becomes -12.5. Woodall was a revelation to start the season, shooting 42.1% on 4.8 three-point attempts per game. More than just hitting from the outside, Woodall ran a smooth offense, handing out 7.5 assists per game. With Woodall out, Ashton Gibbs has moved to the point full time. Since then, Gibbs has shot 37.5% from the floor and 29.4% on three-pointers with 23 assists and 16 turnovers in 7 games. If the Panthers have any hopes to make noise this season they need Woodall to get healthy in a hurry.
123 | The number of field goals West Virginia’s Kevin Jones has made this season, the 3rd most in college basketball. He’s on track to nearly double his career best and the bump is coming from a larger role and a greater level of efficiency. Jones is shooting 54.1% from the field this season, a career mark which obliterates the 44.6% he shot last season. He’s putting in plenty of work in other areas as well– only one player in the country has grabbed more than his 174 rebounds, and no one has more offensive rebounds this season. As Joey Whelan pointed out, Jones has gone from a capable member of the ensemble to an unquestioned star.
11 | The number of conference wins projected for Seton Hall by Ken Pomeroy. The last time the Pirates won more than 10 league games Whitney Houston was at the top of the charts, and P.J. Carlesimo was the head coach. This could be the strongest Seton Hall team of the past twenty years. The Pirates already knocked off West Virginia and Connecticut convincingly. They have 15 conference games left, only three of which are against teams Pomeroy currently rates higher. Herb Pope is displaying a previously unseen level of polish. Jordan Theodore is playing the best basketball of his career and Fuquan Edwin has helped bring the whole thing together. They make shots, with an eFG% of 52.1%, and they don’t turn the ball over, coughing it up on just 18.6% of their possessions. That’s a recipe for success in any league.