Monday, March 14, 2011

Oakland-Texas First Look: Offense vs. Defense

Earlier this evening, it was revealed in front of an anticipatory O'rena crowd that Oakland earned a 13-seed and a match with the Texas Longhorns, a 4-seed out of the Big 12. Though many folks have questioned how Texas fell to a 4-seed, the fact remains that OU and Texas will meet on Friday afternoon in the 4-13 match. On the surface, the contest will pit one of the nation's most efficient offensive teams in Oakland against the nation's best defensive team in Texas. Have a look:
The table presents Oakland's offensive numbers and national rank, while the Texas side features the Longhorns' defensive figures. In terms of adjusted efficiency, Oakland is right up there in the top 15 in the country on the offensive side of the ball, while Texas earns the distinction as the most efficient defensive team in college basketball. Looking down the Texas column, it's easy to see why: for the season, the Longhorns have held teams to 29% shooting from deep and 41.5% from inside the arc, both of which rank in the top five of the nation. For its part, Oakland is the second best shooting team from inside the arc in all of Division I, making 55.8% of its two-point attempts. The Golden Grizzlies also get it done from beyond the perimeter where they shoot 37.7%, good for 39th place. The key aspect to consider here is that Texas managed to put up these figures against Big 12 offenses while Oakland's offensive numbers hinge quite a bit on Summit League competition. One of the major inquiries, then, heading into this game is if Oakland's offense can withstand the brunt of a Texas defense that has been tested time and again against elite competition over the last two months.

For what it's worth, a lot has been written about the Texas defense this season, much of which came during the team's historical 11-0 start to Big 12 play. After a February 19th loss to Nebraska, though, Texas started to look a bit shaky, losing two of its next three games. What favors Oakland is that the collapse, as John Gasaway termed it, may have been precipitated by a simple lack of the same focus and intensity that the team had early on, which perhaps then exposed a team with an offense that struggled to be elite. Catch Texas on an off night and shots will fall, particularly for a sound shooting team like Oakland. But when the Longhorns are on, they're a beast to score against.