4-on-4: Turnovers defining early CBB games

4-on-4: Turnovers defining early CBB games
Posted at 2:52 PM, Nov 14, 2016

4-on-4 is our regular look at college basketball in the Big 4: UB, Canisius, Niagara, and St. Bonaventure.


The first weekend of the college basketball season is under our belt, and as great as it is to have college basketball back, there's already some cracks showing in the NCAA's new rule "emphasis."

Here's our Monday 4-on-4:


1. It's (way too) early, but turnovers are up for the first weekend of the college basketball season

...that's according to stat aficionado KenPom. Let's be clear: we're just a game or two into the season for most teams, so this is way to early to call it a trend, but it's worth noting.

The median turnover percentage last season for teams was 18.0% The median so far this season? 19.0%

A one-percent change in turnover percentage isn't huge -- that adds up to about 1.7 extra turnovers per game between the two teams combined. But given how many traveling calls we've seen in Big 4 games this year, it's not at all surprising.

If you follow me on twitter (shameless plug: @CatlinBogard) you know what I think about the new traveling rule. (Spoiler: Not a fan) Six calls in the St. Bonaventure game alone, and at least four in the UB / Niagara game was more than enough for me. But, on the flip side, ball handlers have to adjust to it, and that should happen rather quickly.

I'll be curious to see how this number changes over the course of a year. If I was making a guess -- the average turnover percentage will likely rise between 0.5 and 1 percent.

Canisius has the high-mark across the Big 4, with 19 turnovers in their loss to Kentucky. Something tells me they won't be the only team to cough up the basketball against the 'Cats.


2. Sorry Griffs, Sunday's game was much more about the Wildcats than you

As a Kentucky resident for most of my life, I've seen a lot more Kentucky basketball than most. And in the John Calipari era, there's a trend: for no apparent reason (other than the whole 'one-and-done' thing) the Wildcats always seem to struggle at home against at least one mid-major team every season.

In other words, I'm not putting a ton of stock into Canisius matching the Wildcats through 18 minutes.

That's not to say I didn't find their trip to the Bluegrass state impressive: their ability to go toe-to-toe with Kentucky on the boards is a great sign, and their resiliency early in the second half after the deflating final two minutes to the first were quite impressive.

But I'm not ready to predict an amazing season based on the first 18 minutes of the regular season.


3. Is it really worth it to be on ESPN2 if your game is at 6:30 a.m.?

This is a question I ask every season for that 2/4/6 a.m. block of the college basketball tip-off. Not only is the game ridiculously early for Niagara, you have to play it on the road at Hartford!

Niagara's defense, especially on the interior, is worth watching. On Sunday, Brown hit just two three's all game, but still put up 88 points, in large part to getting to the free-throw line for 45 attempts. (Even if you take out the late-game fouling, Brown still had 37 attempts in the first 36 minutes) Niagara struggles in the second half against UB to keep the Bulls out of the lane, and had the same problems against Brown -- teams are shooting 61% from inside the arc against the Purple Eagles so far this season.


4. Buffalo will need their defense to show up to compete against Xavier

The Musketeers struggled with Lehigh in their season opener, but one thing they were able to do well was get the ball inside. Xavier put up 44 points in the paint, led by 25 points from 6'6' guard Trevon Bluiett (a USA Today Third Team All-American last season) and 24 points from 6'6 guard Edmond Sumner. (Who is on the Watch List for the 2017 Bob Cousy award) Both these guys have range and they can drive, making them in general complete nightmares to guard.

The good news is that Buffalo has size in their guard corps as well, and should be able to compete with the physicality of the Musketeers.

Xavier shot the three poorly against Lehigh, and the Bulls can hope those struggles continue.

Offensively, UB will have to watch turnovers. (Xavier forced 20 in their season opening win) It was a problem against Niagara in the first 12 minutes, and this isn't a team you can afford to spot a nine or ten point first half lead.