With the 2015-2016 NCAA men’s basketball season coming to an end on Monday, there are plenty of people who simply aren’t ready for the off-season.
The 2015-16 season was full of highs and lows, providing excitement and heartbreak to so many passionate basketball fans around the country. From the upset from the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in the NCAA Tournament over the Michigan State Spartans, to the NBA Draft debate surrounding Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, there was plenty to talk about all season long.
With the season firmly in the rearview mirror, it’s time to reflect and look at some of the key points that we were able to take away from the 2016 NCAA Tournament. From coaches earning high-profile jobs with marquee schools, to mid-major conferences making the case for more consideration on Selection Sunday for multiple bids, there’s plenty to talk about.
Below are five key takeaways from the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
5. March Madness provided a platform for the nation to see new teams and new players
One of the players that stood out in the tournament was senior forward Thomas Walkup. In two games, Walkup averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 46.9% from the field, 33.4% from three point range, and 97.5% (26-of-27) from the free throw line while leading the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks to the Round of 32.
Another player that stood out in the tournament was Yale Bulldogs guard Makai Mason. In two games, Mason averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while shooting 33.5% from the field and 100% (15-of-15) from the free throw line.
Following his tournament performance, Mason declared as an early entrant for the 2016 NBA Draft. By not signing with an agent, Mason could still return to Yale for his junior season in 2016-17 following the NBA Draft Combine.
4. Mid-Majors should get more bids in the NCAA Tournament
- 91 Teams that finished .500 or better in overall (W-L) record
Note: 18 conferences were selected for this takeaway. (America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, SWAC, Southland, Sun Belt, Summit League, WAC)
Conferences with the highest number of teams
- MAC; 9 Teams finished .500 or better
- Colonial; 8 Teams finished .500 or better
- C-USA & Ohio Valley; 7 Teams finished .500 or better
- 20.8 wins is the average of those 91 teams’ total season’s wins
Conferences with the highest total wins among 91 teams
- WAC; 24.7 wins (3 teams finished .500 or better)
- Southern; 22.8 wins (4 teams finished .500 or better)
- America East & Big West; 22.5 wins (4 teams were .500 or better)
- Sun Belt; 21.8 wins (5 teams finished .500 or better)
- C-USA: 21.3 wins (7 teams finished .500 or better)
Note: Those 91 Teams combined for 375 wins this season
- 11.6 wins is the average for those 91 teams’ conference win total
Conferences win average among conferences selected
- MAAC; 14.5 wins
- Southland; 13.4 wins
- Sun Belt; 13.2 wins
- SWAC; 13 wins
- America East; 12.3 wins
How the Power 6 Conferences Rank
ACC= 12 Teams; averaged 23.6 wins; 10.7 wins in conference
American= 7 Teams; averaged 21.9 wins; 11.7 wins in conference
Big East= 7 Teams; averaged 23.3 wins; 11.3 wins in conference
Big 12= 8 Teams; averaged 22.5 wins; 10.6 wins in conference
Big 10= 9 Teams; averaged 23.1 wins; 11.7 wins in conference
SEC= 10 Teams; averaged 19 wins; 10.7 wins in conference
Note= The teams among the Power 6 Conferences were selected if they finished .500 or better in the regular season. This includes teams from these conferences that made the NCAA Tournament.
3. #1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft is open for discussion
Prior to the 2016 NCAA Tournament, several NBA Mock Drafts had LSU freshman forward Ben Simmons being selected first overall. But now, it’s an open discussion. Some sport sites, such as Sports Illustrated, have updated their mock drafts and have Duke freshman wing Brandon Ingram as the #1 pick (2016 NBA Mock Draft 2.0), or James Canada’s piece on SportsBlog.com (WHO’S YOUR #1 PICK SIMMONS OR HIELD?) who thinks Oklahoma senior shooting guard Buddy Hield should be in the conversation for the #1 pick.
Ben Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 56.0% from the field and 67.0% from the free throw line.
Brandon Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 44.2% from the field and 41.0% from long distance.
Lastly, Buddy Hield averaged 25.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 50.1% from the field and 45.7% from three point range.
Whether the team with the top pick in the draft takes Simmons, Ingram, Hield, or someone off the board, the fact of the matter is that they will all have good NBA careers.
2. Hard Work Pays Off for Mid-Major Coaches
In his first season as a Division I head coach, Chris Beard led the Little Rock Trojans to a 30-5 record overall, and 17-3 in the Sun Belt. They won both the regular season and post-season tournament titles. Beard would then take the Trojans to the NCAA Tournament as a 12-seed, where they defeated the fifth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers, 85-83, in the first round. Little Rock would fall to the fourth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones, 78-61, in the Round of 32.
Following their exit from the NCAA Tournament, it was reported and later confirmed by ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello that Chris Beard would become the next head coach of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. He later accepted a five-year deal.
Another coach whose hard work paid off this year was that of Brad Underwood. In his third season as the head coach of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, Underwood helped guide the team to their third straight NCAA Tournament.
The Lumberjacks were a 14-seed, and knocked off the third-seed West Virginia Mountaineers in the first round, 70-56. Stephen F. Austin would fall in the Round of 32 at the hands of the sixth-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish on a last-second tip-in, 76-75.
Following the season, Underwood was tabbed as the replacement for Travis Ford, becoming the newest head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
In his three seasons with Stephen F. Austin, Underwood amassed an impressive record of 89-14 overall, and 53-1 in Southland Conference play with three conference titles.
So the ultimate question for Little Rock and Stephen F. Austin is simple. Will they make it back to the NCAA Tournament in the near future under new head coaches or will they regress?
1. National Championship game delivered one of the best all-time
Monday night’s national championship game delivered one of the best tournament games and finishes all-time.
After Marcus Paige made a double-clutch contested three pointer with under five seconds left to tie the game at 74-all, the Villanova Wildcats would get the ball back with a chance to win the game. Following their timeout, senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono took the in-bounds pass to the top of the arch before handing it off junior forward Kris Jenkins. Jenkins didn’t hesitate and launched a three pointer over the outstretched arm of forward Isaiah Hicks as time expired. As the buzzer sounded, the ball went through the basket, and Villanova came away with the 77-74 win and were crowned national champions.
Stat: The North Carolina Tar Heels finished the season 0-6 when they failed outscore their opponents in the paint. North Carolina now has five losses in NCAA National Championship games.
Stat: Villanova won its first national championship since 1985 when they took down the Georgetown Hoyas under Ronald Massimino, who was in attendance last night.
Stat: It is the first national championship to be won on a buzzer-beater since the NC State Wolfpack won the title in 1983 over the Houston Cougars.
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