4 College Basketball Statistical Observations from Opening Week

by Jonathan Burke

College basketball is back in full swing, and the first week had it all: upsets, buzzer beaters, and controversy.

Below are four statistics that stuck out from the opening week of CBB.

By The Numbers

49.8 Percent

All offseason, the Markus Howard hype train picked up steam. The senior guard was expected to dominate Marquette’s usage rate, and he didn’t disappoint in his first game.

Howard’s 49.8% usage rate is the highest this season, almost 25% higher than his closest teammate.

He dropped 38 points against Loyola (MD) in only 26 minutes of action. Howard’s 76.8 true shooting percentage was buoyed by 7 three-pointers in 10 attempts. Although it is unwise to make predictions after an opening game against an inferior opponent, it is clear that Howard will be one of the most ball-dominant players in the nation this season.

His usage rate will regress towards the mean over the course of the season, but he will likely eclipse his previous season-high of 37.9%.

34 Points Per Game

Virginia’s defense through two games is suffocating opponents, allowing only 34 points per game. UVA’s opponents are averaging a 23.1 field goal percentage, which ranks third-lowest in the nation.

These results show that the Cavs are just as stifling on the defensive end as last year, when they ranked top-five in defensive efficiency and first in points allowed per game.

After two games, Tony Bennet’s squad ranks in the bottom-15 in pace, as that plays into their defensive gameplan. Despite losing three key contributors to the NBA this offseason, Virginia is a legitimate title contender once again.

23 Points, 12 Rebounds

Louisville’s Jordan Nwora started the year with a bang, scoring 23 points and collecting 12 rebounds in a win over Miami. The preseason ACC Player of the Year was efficient on the offensive end of the ball with a 65.8 true shooting percentage.

Nwora shot 4-of-6 from three-point range against the Canes. If he can improve on last year’s 37.4 three-point percentage, he will be one of the most lethal scorers in the ACC.

The Cardinals, as a team, shot 43.1% from beyond the arc, placing them inside the top-30 in the nation. They have one of the nation’s best frontcourts, making Louisville the frontrunner to win their conference, but also a threat to win the national championship, as well.

33.2 Percent

At this point in the season, the average three-point percentage across the nation is 33.2, with an average three-point attemps percentage of 37.33.

In 2018-19, 38.7% of field goal attempts were three-pointers, and the average Division I conversion rate was 34.4%.

This is significant because this is the first full season after the three-point line was moved back to the international distance of 22 feet, 1¾ inches.

While it is still extremely early, it is interesting to see if three-point percentages will remain lower than rates of previous years. Keep an eye on these trends as the season progresses and a larger sample size is realized.

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