Bracket tips from Cats Stats Scouting

COVID-19 is unpredictable, its effects have been costly on sports programs since its arrival. With the excitement of “March Madness” looming high in the air, the uncertainty of COVID-19 has every basketball fan anxious. Bracketology is here, but how can COVID-19 affect your bracket? 

COVID-19 has caused many game cancellations and program shutdowns. When analyzing the field of 68, there are some important COVID-19 implications to address. Most teams did not play as many games as they would in an usual season and some teams did not have a consistent roster throughout the season due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, a team could have completely shut down basketball activities. When analyzing selections for a bracket, the time at which the outbreak occurred is important. Outbreaks at the beginning of the season have less effect on the caliber of a team, as they have returned to normal actives and schedules. Outbreaks towards the end of the season have a higher impact, as teams may have lasting effects such as the deterioration of skills. It is extremely hard to come back from a hiatus and continue to play at the same intensity and skill level, making it very unlikely for it to elevate. Also, with the diminished schedules, it can be crucial to analyze what games were missed during a program’s outbreak. If a program missed a game against a high-quality opponent or a conference tournament game, the team could lose several advantages. The first being a first-hand account of playing a team they could meet in the tournament. Another being not experiencing the intensity and environment of high quality or highly anticipated game. In games like those, coaches have the opportunity to analyze their teams. 

Some other general points of emphasis when considering selections for brackets are defense, stats in the last two minutes of a half, rebounding, and the age of a team. The defense is becoming more important as college basketball is becoming slow-paced. The decreased speed of the game creates a more grinding and physical game. The effect of a slow-paced game is emphasized in the NCAA tournament. The last two minutes of the game are often the most critical points within a game. Throughout the tournament, many games will be won and lost in the last two minutes of a game. Analyzing a team’s ability to perform well in the last two minutes, can give insight on whether they can close out games in the clutch essentially making them viable or unviable. Rebounding is indubitably one of the most important phases of the game. A rebound determines the team that receives possession of the basketball. In a slow, physical, defensive game, each possession decides which team wins the games, and the more possessions a team has, the higher the chances of winning. For NCAA champions, young teams generally do not perform as well as veteran teams in the NCAA tournament. Winning in the NCAA tournament varies from winning the regular season games, as it is more difficult. The most overlooked difficulty is the experience it takes. For all the freshmen across the country, the tournament is an entirely new experience for them. With the quick turnarounds, changing opponents, and game-plans drastically quick, combined with the change to a slower-paced game, a freshman can be thrown completely array. It is crucial to have experienced players to contribute to the team, especially if they can contribute tournament experience since it is drastically different from a normal game. Looking at every NCAA champion since 2010, every team has had at least two upperclassmen players, that were included in the top seven minutes played. Although every sports fan indulges in the glamor of a superb freshman, the experience is critical to the success of a team in the NCAA tournament. 

When scouting a team, I, Morgan, gather background information on the team such as getting a good idea of the starting five, or the seven players who consistently rack up minutes. Then using Synergy, I break down and elevate each player along with highlighting how to enhance their weaknesses and conceal their strengths. Then I go and evaluate the film on the software’s film feature and cite examples in my report so the coaches can be aware and have evidence of my claims. After that I compare how opponents played against common opponents, other teams that my team has already played, to show how the techniques I suggested work and will affect the outcome. 

This article was written by Jayden Waddell and Morgan Martin.

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