Athlon starts your college basketball week with key stats from the hardcourt.
There are 347 division-I college basketball teams. Following college hoops these days can be overwhelming. Let Athlon Sports start your college basketball week each Monday with a look at some of the most intriuging, most important and most interesting stats from around the world of college basketball:
517: Career wins by the late Rick Majerus
The former coach at Marquette (1983-86), Ball State (1987-89), Utah (1989-2004) and Saint Louis (2007-12) died Saturday after a long battle with heart disease. Stories of the coach and broadcaster who impacted lives for more than four decades flooded the internet and airwaves, each encapsulating his gracious and gregarious personality. He won five Coach of the Year Awards in the WAC, seven regular season conference championships and led Utah to the Final Four in 1998.
23: Combined margin of defeat for Kentucky last week
Kentucky had lost back-to-back games only once under John Calipari — road games against Ole Miss and Florida back in 2010-11. The Wildcats’ worst loss under Cal was by 17 to UConn that same year. But after seven games, Kentucky (4-3) lost to Notre Dame and Baylor last week for two of the four worst losses under Calipari. The 14-point loss to the Irish was the second-worst loss of the Calipari era. The nine-point loss on Saturday to Baylor was tied for the third-worst defeat. Keep in mind: Kentucky rolled through Baylor in the Elite Eight last season en route to the national title. The loss to the Bears was the first home loss under Calipari at Kentucky, snapping the nation’s longest home winning streak at 55 games.
81: Mason Plumlee’s free throw percent against top-five teams
Entering his final season at Duke, big man Mason Plumlee was a 50.5 percent free throw shooter. But through the first eight games of his senior year, he is shooting 76.1 percent from the stripe. Against three top-five teams, Ohio State (9 of 12), Louisville (4 of 4) and Kentucky (4 of 5), he has missed only four freebies in 21 attempts. His play — 19.6 points, 1 rebounds — is a big reason Duke is still unbeaten.
18.8: UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett’s points per game
Marcus Thornton of William & Mary is the top scoring freshman in the country at 19 points per game in seven games, but UNLV’s Bennett is nipping at his heels after his first six games at 18.8 points per game. Bennett is shooting 55.4 percent from the floor and adding 7.8 rebounds per game for the 5-1 Rebels. UNLV’s postseason potential is built around veteran Mike Moser, an Athlon preseason first-team All-American, but Bennett’s development over the course of the season could be the difference between an early Tournament exit or deep postseason run.
219: SMU’s RPI in 2011-12
Larry Brown’s Mustangs are one of the top stories early in the season. SMU was 13-19 last season and hasn’t had a winning overall record since 2002-03 (17-13). After an 8-1 start with wins over Pac-12 (Utah) and Big 12 (TCU) programs, the nation is starting to take notice. SMU is No. 37 in Yahoo’s preliminary RPI, ahead of programs like North Carolina and Michigan State, and is poised for its best season in over a decade. Keep en eye on the cagey Brown and his intriguing ‘Stangs.