March Madness Tempo Report: 3 Totals to Target in Round of 64
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Painter (left) and Eric Hunter Jr.
March Madness Tempo Report
Adjusted Tempo is defined as possessions per 40 minutes. Oddsmakers consistently use tempo ranks to calculate the number of expected shot attempts in a basketball game. Depending on a certain team’s rank in offensive and defensive efficiency, a team can consistently go under or over the set total.
Oral Roberts made the dance with a lightning quick tempo from Summit League play. The Golden Eagles had the 39th fastest tempo in the nation on offense. In combination with a high clip of three pointers, Oral Roberts finished the season going over the posted total in 16 of 23 games.
One stat that sports investors should focus on is the events at the free throw line, more importantly can an offense get to the line. If a team can get to the free throw line, can they convert those points with the clock stopped. Oral Roberts finished as the best free throw shooting team in the nation to the delight of over bettors.
The opposite of the Golden Eagles may be St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies ended with an adjusted tempo rank of 319th and went over the total in just 6 of 20 games. Free throw rate played a large factor in those decisions, as St. Bonaventure had an offensive free throw rate rank of 323rd. There were plenty of easy unders cashed on a team that walks the ball up the court and never visits the free throw line.
This article will look at a few of the first round matchups along with their projected total. When tempo and free throw rate get agreement from other advanced statistics a play on the total can be the best route.
15 Oral Roberts vs. 2 Ohio State | South Region
|Oral Roberts Odds||+16.5|
|Ohio State Odds||-16.5|
|Moneyline||+1150 / -2500|
|Time||Friday, 2 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday and via BetMGM|
Speak of the devil, head coach Paul Mills drew the perfect high seed to bomb 3-pointers. Oral Roberts has no interest in playing defense with a rank of 328th in defensive rebounding and 265th in opponent perimeter shooting. The Golden Eagles have one mission objective and that is to get a 3-point attempt up as fast as possible.
— ORU Basketball (@ORUMBB) March 10, 2021
Ohio State may have been the best draw for them, allowing opponents 34% from beyond the arc. The Buckeyes are one of the best offensive teams in the nation, evident by a roaring comeback against Illinois in the Big Ten Tournament title game. The issue with the Buckeyes is the impotence in taking the ball away from opponents. Ohio State is outside the top 300 in steal rate, allowing opposing teams to get the ball safely up the court.
Finally, this is a game where the free throw rate is bankable. Both Oral Roberts and Ohio State have poor defensive free throw rates ranking outside the top 200. The Buckeyes have visited the free throw line more than most teams in the nation. With a projection of 162, there is still room to invest on this total leading up to tipoff.
Pick: Over 155.5
10 Rutgers vs. 7 Clemson | Midwest Region
|Moneyline||-125 / +105|
|Time||Friday, 9:20 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday via PointsBet|
The more fascinating aspect of this game may be the point spread, which has a 10 seed favored over a seven. This always gives the gambling world a chuckle and license to set social media on fire when an “upset” is declared for the lower seed.
The fascinations end there, though, as this may be the ugliest game on the Friday slate. The pace and effective field goal metrics are enough to put the East and West Coast to bed early.
The tempo for these two teams are 338th and 213th for Rutgers and Clemson. Granted, these two teams are a bit faster when split into offensive tempo, but the four factor statistics say this matchup will be flat out gross.
Rutgers’ offensive free throw rate rank is 278th, but a shooting percentage of 63% is one of the worst in the nation. Clemson may have no shot to get to the line with a free throw rate rank of 336th.
As for game flow, Rutgers relies solely on generating scores from the interior. The Clemson defense is 89th in 2-point defense and will not have to worry about Rutgers’ shooters from outside. Conversely, the Tigers shoot a healthy number of 3-point attempts but will come against a Scarlet Knights perimeter defense that ranks in the top 100. The projection is set at 120 for two teams that walk it up the court and field some of the worst free throw numbers in the nation.
Pick: Under 125.5
13 North Texas vs. 4 Purdue | South Region
|North Texas Odds||+7.5|
|Moneyline||+285 / -330|
|Time||Friday, 7:25 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday via DraftKings|
As specified in our Calcutta Auction piece, Purdue is a sleeper I am betting on to make a run to the Final Four. That run starts with a complete mismatch against North Texas.
If there is a team that will feel most at home in the Indianapolis bubble, it is Purdue. After competing in the Big Ten Tournament, the Boilermakers had a short bus ride home to practice, study film and rest up for March Madness. A quick bus trip back may have Purdue as the most rested team in the dance.
🎬 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐆𝐎𝐋𝐃 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐀𝐑𝐃 — 𝐄𝐏. 𝟖
Our journey from Selection Sunday to The Bubble. Go behind the scenes of the last 24 hours as we head to Indy. pic.twitter.com/oOrJQqUyJB
— Purdue Mens Basketball (@BoilerBall) March 16, 2021
North Texas has an adjusted tempo rank of 350th and when split between each side of the court, the offense is still 326th in pace. The Mean Green have no issue taking as much time off the shot clock as possible before attempting a shot.
On top of pace, North Texas is 282nd in free throw rate and 244th in turnover percentage. That is not a good combination against the Boilermakers.
Purdue is 295th in offensive pace of play, which all but guarantees that there may be just 60 shot attempts in a 40-minute game. The Boilermakers do have a clear advantage in offensive rebounding, but any lead that gets to double digits might have head coach Matt Painter ask for an even slower pace. With a projection at 120.5, look to invest in a Boilermakers team that will enjoy the slow pace the Mean Green brings to the game.
Pick: Under 126.5