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Brian Mull | | September 21, 2016

7 team trends to count on this season

Although personnel changes from season-to-season, forcing coaches to adapt schemes and strategy, certain stylistic characteristics remain constant regardless who is wearing the uniform.

For example, scoring inside against a John Calipari coached Kentucky squad will be difficult. The Wildcats have finished in the top 11 in the nation in 2-point field goal percentage allowed in six of Calipari’s seven seasons. With another deep cache of tall, long, athletic options in the frontcourt, expect Kentucky to match its past success. 

Duke will have an elite offense. Even though the Blue Devils lost more than 10 games last season for the first time since 2006-07, coach Mike Krzyzewski still fielded a top-10 offense. UConn will protect the rim. From Jim Calhoun to Kevin Ollie, the Huskies have been among the nation’s best at blocking shots.

Come tipoff of the 2016-17 college basketball season, don’t expect the DNA of these teams to change much either.

  Belmont Bruins head coach Rick Byrd hopes his team can continue to shoot the ball well from deep.
Belmont will let 3-pointers fly

Coach Rick Byrd and the Bruins have been playing small, fast and chucking 3-pointers since the current Golden State Warriors were in grade school.  

Making the nets sing fits fine in Music City. It has produced 20 wins in 10 of 11 seasons, seven NCAA tournament appearances and a near first-round upset of Duke in the 2009 NCAAs.

Last season, 50.4 percent of Belmont’s field goal attempts were 3-pointers (4th in the nation) and it returns all but one rotation player so fans will be counting by threes yet again.

Davidson will have an elite offense

  Davidson guard Jack Gibbs (12) will be back in the fold again this season for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats burst onto the national scene in 2007 and 2008, thanks to a talented guard named Curry. To be expected, the program endured two middling years after Curry departed. Since, they’ve emerged as a consistent, efficient offensive juggernaut. Davidson stunned the A-10 conference by winning the 2015 regular season title in its first season as a member.

A year ago, Davidson recorded an adjusted offensive efficiency of 113.1 to finish top 40 in the nation for the fifth consecutive season.

The return of A-10 scoring leader Jack Gibbs and addition of versatile 6-11 forward Will Magarity should make the Wildcats cuts, screens and shooters difficult to defend once more.

Duke will take away the 3-point line

  Grayson Allen (3) and the Duke Blue Devils continue to work to limit their opponents' shooting effectiveness.

The 3-point shot can build momentum for an offense. It can ignite fans at home or silence fans on the road. The best way to limit an opponent’s 3-point production is to limit the amount of 3-point shots they attempt. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski subscribes to this theory. Each of his last 15 teams has been top 25 in the nation in percentage of 3-point attempts allowed, with 10 Duke teams ranking in the top 10.

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Extending pressure beyond the arc has made the Blue Devils vulnerable inside (100th or worse in 2-pointers seven of last nine years) at times, but it’s a trade coach K is willing to make.

Temple will protect the basketball

  Temple Owls head coach Fran Dunphy looks to lead his squad back to the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
The Owls have earned an NCAA tournament bid in seven of coach Fran Dunphy’s 10 seasons, winning 21 games or more on eight occasions. Strong ball control has been the cornerstone of Temple’s success.

It has ranked in the top 50 nationally in turnover rate in eight seasons and been particularly steady of late, finishing top five the last two seasons. Josh Brown, 10th in the nation in assist-turnover ratio (3.5) last season, returns to play point guard. He should help keep Temple’s turnovers to a minimum.

Villanova will make free throws

  Villanova will have Kris Jenkins back in the mix in the 2016-17 season, but will need to replace other pieces.
The Wildcats were an exciting, dynamic unit that played exquisite basketball down the stretch to win the second national championship in program history. Fouling them was a bad idea. ‘Nova hit 78.2 percent at the free throw line, which was 2nd in the nation. On their march to the title, the Wildcats became sharper, hitting 63 of 74 (85.1 percent) in the last four victories over Miami, Kansas, Oklahoma and UNC.

Villanova must replace gritty point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who shot 84 percent, but returns five rotation regulars who hit at least 75 percent of free throw attempts.

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William & Mary will shoot a high percentage

  Guard Greg Malinowski (5) is one of many deep threats on a talented William & Mary squad.

Tribe coach Tony Shaver has led the program to three straight 20-win seasons, which had not happened in Williamsburg since 1951. The next goal is the first NCAA tournament bid in school history and the Tribe should again have the requisite shooters to contend for the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic bid.

MORE5 programs trying to bounce back this season

The Tribe spreads four sharpshooters around the perimeter and forces opponents to step out and defend. W&M has had an effective field goal percentage of 53.6 or better each of the last four seasons, finishing top 25 or better each year. 

Watch out for Connor Burchfield, who shot 57 percent on 3-pointers and 68 percent on 2-pointers in limited action last season.  

West Virginia will hammer the offensive glass

  West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) is no stranger to mixing it up with big men on the glass.
Coaches don’t come much tougher than Bob Huggins, leader of the Mountaineers. So, it makes sense his teams thrive under the backboards, where bodies clash, elbows fly and only the strong emerge with the ball. West Virginia has been especially tenacious on the offensive glass. 

No team in the country hauled down more of their own misses (42 percent) than the Mountaineers did last season. It was the sixth time West Virginia has finished top 10 in offensive rebounding percentage in Huggins’ nine seasons. This squad should prove whether the elite rebounding is a product of personnel or the system. Leading rebounders Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton have departed.

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