This is Significant Digits, your daily digest of the telling numbers tucked inside the news. With Walt Hickey away on vacation — and with the third round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament getting underway tonight — I’m hijacking SigDig today and tomorrow in the name of March Madness. Enjoy!
6 ACC schools
Six schools in the Sweet 16 — Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Notre Dame and Syracuse — hail from the Atlantic Coast Conference, setting a record (at least, since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985). The ACC had tied the previous record of five last season, so at this rate they’ll claim all 16 slots by 2026. [USA Today]
In their two NCAA Tournament wins thus far, Villanova has outscored foes by 49 combined points, or 24.5 per game — more than any other team in the Sweet 16 field. Granted, one of those games was against 15th-seeded UNC Asheville, but the Wildcats also beat No. 7 seed Iowa by 19 and have exceeded the scoring margin our Elo ratings would expect by 11.8 points per contest. They’ll try to keep that hot streak going tonight against Miami. [Sports-Reference.com]
Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield has enjoyed a season for the ages this year, and it’s carrying over into the NCAA Tournament, where he’s scored a tourney-best 63 points (31.5 per game) on a scorching 73.2 true shooting percentage. But maybe it’s best for the Sooners if Hield doesn’t keep that average up against Texas A&M tonight — Oklahoma was 4-5 in conference play this season when Hield scored 30 or more points, and 8-1 when the Sooner scoring attack was more balanced. [Sports-Reference.com]
Each basketball team has five starters, and in the case of Maryland’s game against Kansas tonight, each Terrapin starter will be taller than the Jayhawk lined up across from him at tip-off. As a team, Maryland has the fourth-biggest roster in the nation, with an average height a good inch and a half taller than Kansas. But will it matter against the skilled Jayhawks? Our model says “probably not” — we’ve got Kansas favored with a 73 percent probability of winning, despite Maryland’s size advantage. [KC Kingdom]
If defense really does win championships, nobody clued in Oregon or Duke. The combatants in tonight’s late game ranked 43rd and 109th, respectively, in schedule-adjusted defensive efficiency this season, per Ken Pomeroy’s stats. Aside from their 116th-place finish in 2013-14, this year’s Blue Devils have given Coach K more defensive fits than any Duke squad since Pomeroy started crunching numbers 15 seasons ago. [KenPom.com]
More than $30 million
With those aforementioned six entries in the Sweet 16, the ACC stands to make a cool $30 million, at least, from an NCAA cash pool that rewards conferences when their teams go deep in the tournament. Naturally, none of that money will ever be seen by Brice Johnson, Malcolm Brogdon, Grayson Allen, Angel Rodriguez or any of the other players who powered those teams to the Sweet 16. [ESPN.com]
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CORRECTION (March 24, 5:35 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly described the average height difference between the starters on Kansas and Maryland’s men’s basketball teams. Maryland’s starters are, on average, about an inch and a half taller, not a foot and half.