After taking a break from winning it all in 2018, the NW Missouri State Bearcats were back on top in 2019. Unlike 2017, this team got through 38 games without a loss. While they did the impossible and improved on a one-loss title team, they were also more dominant this past season, winning by an average of over 20 points per game, compared to about 16 points per game two years ago. (Sidenote: their “down” year in 2018 was a 27-4 record, these guys are just dominant every year under coach Ben McCollum)
Compared to Other Champs…
Enough about how the Bearcats have compared to their recent selves, compared to other champs, their numbers stood out even more. They’re the only NCAA D2 Men’s Champion over the last eleven years to put up an effective field goal percentage of over 60% and their true shooting percentage of 63.8% was topped only by Bellarmine in 2011 who was at 64.0%.
The effective field goal percentage was bolstered by having 38.7% of their points come from three-pointers. That’s five percentage points better than any of the last eleven champions. That includes 404 made three-pointers, 37 more than the closest recent champion and an overall average of more than 10.5 made three-pointers per game, just slightly better than Florida Southern in 2015 and Augustana in 2016.
A natural extension for a team making three-pointers like this is a very high points per possession, in this case 1.29, again the highest of any of the most recent champions.
Just Average in Other Areas
Let’s be honest, no national champion is average in any way. However, when we look at some of the numbers from recent champions. The Bearcats were very much in line with those averages.
Defensively, opponents were spot on with a true shooting percentage of 52.5% and an effective field goal percentage of 49.5%, the latter just one percentage point better than the average of the previous champions.
From a rebounding standpoint, the total rebounding percentages on both sides of the ball, were exactly in line with the averages with the Bearcats gaining 53% of rebounds and giving their opponents the other 47%. The make up of their rebounding percentage was very different with a very low offensive rebounding percentage – just 26.6%, which again is a natural extension of a team that shoots a high number of three-pointers. But they had a higher than average defensive rebounding percentage of 77.6% – the highest of any team in the last eleven years.
One big outlier
Northwest Missouri State had just 295 turnovers, the lowest for a champion since….the 2017 version of Northwest Missouri State. That’s 8 turnovers per game. When a team scores nearly 1.3 points per possession and turn the ball over just 8 times per game, you have to be perfect to beat them. For the Bearcats in 2019, they were the perfect ones.