It’s not a coincidence that scoring and fouling are at historically low levels

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The general consensus this season was that while the best college hoops games this season were thrilling, overall it was an ugly year for the sport. No one seemed to be able to score and every game looked more like a rugby match than it did a basketball game.

Now that the season is over and we can reflect, the numbers back that sentiment up. From Daniel Uthman of USA Today:

  • Scoring in Division I men’s basketball is at its lowest point since 1951-52. Teams averaged 67.5 points per game in 2012-13.
  • Team 3-point shooting percentage declined to its lowest mark since the 3-point line was introduced in 1986-87. Teams shot 34.05% from 3-point range this season, continuing a decline that began in 2011.

And perhaps an explanation why:

  • Foul calls reached an all-time low, and teams shot the fewest free throws of any season since 1976. Teams averaged for 17.68 fouls each per game, and they shot fewer than 20 free throws a game (19.76) for only the fifth time in history.

Over the last season or two, Jay Bilas has made a point out of emphasizing the need for more fouls to be called. His argument is that, essentially, if we want scoring to increase, we need to allow freedom of movement. Players need to be able to cut through the lane without being held or grabbed. They need to be able to dribble the ball without having two hands in their back. They need to be able to drive to the rim and trust that a foul will be called if they get clobbered.

This may make the games a bit tougher to watch initially, but as players and coaches adjust to how close the game is being called, it will open things up. Scoring will increase. There will be fewer slugfests. According to Rick Pitino, this is precisely what the NBA did when their game looked like it was becoming tackle football.

“What happened in the NBA now is they stopped all the arm bars, all the standing up of screens, all the coming across and chopping the guy,” he said at the Final Four. “They stopped all that. Now there’s freedom of movement in the NBA and you see great offense.”

“When you coach in the Big East, you should wear body guard. Peyton wears body guard, shoulder pads, because you can’t cut, can’t move. The referees are caught in a quandary. They’re saying, We’re going to ruin the game, we’re on TV. Jay is 100% right, if we want to get back, take a page out of the NBA, have freedom of movement.”

All of this discussion about lowering the shot clock to speed up the game is great, but all the evidence you need to discern why college basketball has become so defensive-oriented is right there. You win by being more physical, because physicality isn’t being penalized.

Call fouls and you open up the game.

It’s really that simple.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter.

Playing in his final game for Wisconsin, Nigel Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime.

With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: