What do Christ Koumadje and Demontrae Jefferson have in common? They’re both outliers.
Koumadje, a center from Florida State, stands at 7-4, making him the tallest player in the NCAA tournament. Jefferson, a 5-7 Texas Southern guard, is the shortest.Second-seeded Duke plays No. 15 Iona in the first round and is the tallest team in this year's tournament. Radford is the shortest, which didn't stop the Highlanders from picking up their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
Here’s the full ranking of 2018’s field of 68 by height:
|Rank||School||Average Height (in inches)|
|7||San Diego State||78.08|
|38||Stephen F. Austin||76.92|
|56||South Dakota State||76.45|
|62||New Mexico State||76.00|
The Blue Devils’ players average 79.2 inches (just over 6-7). Duke has 10 players over 6-6, and their shortest player is 6-2. That may have something to do with why the Blue Devils are the fourth-best rebounding team in the country, and the second-best in the tournament.
Radford is on the other end of the spectrum, averaging just 75.2 inches per player (just over 6-3). Only four Highlanders breach 6-6, and just one player in Radford’s starting five is taller than 6-5 — the 6-8 Randy Phillips, who averages 6.9 points per game. But it’s 6-5 Ed Polite Jr. who pulls in the most rebounds for Radford, accounting for 23% of the Highlanders boards.
Seeing that difference between a 1 seed and a 16 seed is pretty common. Here's how average height breaks down by seed:
None of the 2-seeds (Duke, Purdue, North Carolina, and Cincinnati) have an average height of under 6-5. The 1 seeds include the Nos. 5 (Kansas), 10 (Virginia), and 14 (Xavier) tallest teams, but are brought down by Villanova, which has an average height of 6-4.5, the 14th shortest in the field. Unsurprisingly, four of the 16 seeds come in at the first (Radford), second (LIU-Brooklyn), third (NC Central), and fourth (Texas Southern) shortest teams in the tournament.
In the past 10 years, no player under 6-0 or over 6-10 has won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
|Year||School||MOP||Height (in inches)|
|2017||UNC||Joel Berry II||72|