Teams are averaging slightly less than 68 points per game this season. Scoring peaked in the early 1970s at nearly 78 points per game, went down for a while, back up with the advent of the three and, recently, down, down, down.
Shooting accuracy topped out at 48.1 percent in 1983-84. This season, it is barely 43 percent. The best three-point shooting was in that first season (1986-87), when it was 38.4 percent. This season, it is going to end up around 34 percent.
Teams attempted just 9.2 threes per game that first season. The number maxed out at 19 per game in 2007-08 and has gone slightly down since then.
So, it is obvious why shooting percentages have gone down. More threes equal poorer percentages.
What is up with the scoring? You would think with all those three-point attempts that scoring would be up.
There is obviously no single theory that explains it, but certainly when teams take more threes, they get fouled less. So there is that. Defenses are certainly better and more physical than ever. So is video scouting, which makes defenses better prepared for just about any set, play or player tendency they might see. Officials have fallen in love with the charge call, making the and-one a relic from another age.
The most talented young offensive players are in the NBA. Shooting has become a lost art in this era of the highlight. How many passers know how to set up a scorer in rhythm? How many would care to, even if they knew how? With more emphasis on metrics, points per possession has become a mantra for just about every program. So each possession takes on added importance.
I certainly blame the dribblers and the incessant ball screens.
There is way too much ball-bouncing to nowhere. And all those screens just clog the court, mess up the spacing and are so repetitive that I would make them illegal if I could.
Mostly, I blame the coaches. Coaches, by nature, are not risk takers, so they don't press because they can't set their defense. They don't run because they are worried about turnovers. They don't give their players freedom because they want control.
Thankfully, we still have coaches like Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Shaka Smart (VCU). They actually get their players in the kind of shape it takes to pressure for much of the game and let them loose. If I had my choice of a national championship game, VCU-Louisville would be it. If the rest of these guys could watch that game, maybe they would set their players free.
Overall No. 1 seed
It is starting to look very much like Indiana. The Hoosiers could have a very nice road to Atlanta. They will start in Dayton and, if they win two, play the Midwest Regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Can you imagine those crowds? Won't be anything like neutral.
No offense puts more pressure on defenses than Indiana's. Going into Tuesday night's game at Minnesota, they were second in the country in scoring (82.5 points), fourth in field-goal accuracy (50 percent), first in three-point shooting (42.8 percent) and fifth in rebound margin (plus-9.1 per game). They have two of the nation's 10 most accurate shooters - smooth/confident big man Cody Zeller (58.8 percent) and freak athlete/defender/shooter/finisher Victor Oladipo (63.9 percent).
Gonzaga, which has a very good defense to go along with another terrific offense, looks like the No. 1 seed in the West.
Duke, Miami, Michigan, Florida, Kansas, and the Big East Tournament champion (if it is Louisville or Georgetown) are all in play for No. 1 seeds in the East and South.
Speaking of site advantages, Michigan and Michigan State are very likely to begin at the Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit. Kansas and Kansas State figure to be in Kansas City.
However it ends for La Salle, Temple and Villanova, there has never been a year when three Big 5 teams have such similar resumes and are involved in battles for the final at-large spots. In 2008, Saint Joseph's and Villanova were in a similar spot. They both made it - barely.
There is a chance that any or all of them could get in but end up in the First Four in Dayton. Technically, there could be a matchup of Big 5 teams if the committee determines that all three are among the final four at-large teams. If it were just two, I think they would avoid a regular-season rematch.
Duke still looks like one of the anchor teams at the Wells Fargo Center the first weekend. It looked like Syracuse would be the second team, but Georgetown has pushed its way into the conversation. La Salle could be one of the other six teams. As the host, Temple can't play in the city. Villanova could, but likely would not because a Big East team (Syracuse/Georgetown) would be a potential third-round game. The committee tries to avoid conference matchups before the regionals if it can.
This and that *
Two years ago, the Big East could have had a nearly $1.2 billion TV deal from ESPN, worth $14 million per year for each football-playing school as well as a pretty nice haul for the basketball-only schools. Then, in the midst of those negotiations, Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced they would be leaving for the ACC. Now, after 16 schools have left or announced they will be leaving, the Big East's new deal with ESPN is for $130 million, or $1.8 million per year for each football-playing team. If you want to know why the league broke up, reread those numbers.
* Davidson senior center Jake Cohen (Conestoga) is finishing off a terrific career. His team is 21-7 and has won 12 straight. How consistent has he been? He scored 413 points as a freshman, 401 as a sophomore, 473 as a junior and 420 so far this season.
* Harvard sophomore Kenyatta Smith has not put up many numbers in his career except for the Feb. 15-16 home games against Penn and Princeton. In those games, he shot 13-for-14 from the field, 8-for-9 from the foul line for 34 points, with 16 rebounds and 16 blocks, a career in two nights.
* It was a bad Saturday for home streaks. Syracuse lost after 38 straight wins at the Carrier Dome while Colorado State lost after 27 consecutive wins. The current longest streak (30) belongs to South Dakota State. Don't look for Syracuse to be scheduling a game there next season or any season. Has the 'Cuse ever played a nonconference road game?