Thursday, March 21, 2013

NCAA vs. NBA: Could the Top-Seeded Louisville Cardinals Defeat the Charlotte Bobcats?

Peyton Siva wrenches the ball away from Kemba Walker in the 2010-11 season. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

The Charlotte Bobcats' 15-52 record is the NBA's worst. The roster is built with former NCAA stars Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilcrist and Gerald Henderson and most of the team's players could still be part of an NCAA tournament team. Myself and BDD pose the question: could this year's NCAA tournament's top seed, the Louisville Cardinals, defeat the Bobcats in a head-to-head battle?

When comparing an NBA and NCAA team, there are a two huge differences to take into account. The NBA plays four, 12-minute quarters. NCAA games are two, 20-minute halves. NBA teams abide to a 24-second shot clock, while NCAA teams have 35 seconds to put up a successful shot attempt. Kemba Walker leads the struggling Bobcats by scoring only 17.2 points per game. Louisville junior guard Russ Smith scores 18.1 ppg for the Cardinals. Even with fewer possessions and shot attempts, Louisville's top scorer outscores Charlotte's by almost a full point.

Winners of only two of the past 10 games, Charlotte has failed to win more than three consecutive games all season. The Cardinals are winners of their last 10, most recently overcoming a 16-point deficit in the Big East Championship to defeat the talented Syracuse Orange. 

The Bobcats dwell at the bottom of almost every relevant statistical category.

It's only fair we show the Cardinals' numbers, too.

The statistic that should pop off the page should be DRtg. 85.5 represents the number of points teams score against the Cardinals per 100 possessions. The Bobcats rank last in this category, holding a rating of 111.7. According to this, the Bobcats average nearly 96 possessions per game. Scoring at a rate of 93.1 ppg, the Bobcats manage to score a mere 1.02 ppp (points per possession), which is less than the Cardinals' average of 1.06. Keeping in mind possessions are more valuable because they are less frequent, a game where both teams abide by the same shot and game clock length, Louisville will both score and defend at a higher rate.

Where the Bobcats struggle, the Cardinals thrive. Only four teams have totaled more turnovers than Charlotte, while only one team has created more than Louisville. The Bobcats also have allowed their opponent to steal the ball away 455 times (only the Knicks have allowed more), ranking Charlotte second to last in the category. Who ranks second best in college hoops? You guessed it, the Louisville Cardinals.

The Bobcats are still professionals. The roster contains several veteran players with at least five years of experience in the league. Ben Gordon is one of those veterans who is prolific at scoring the basketball.  He also has experience playing for England at the Olympic level. An average front-court rotation contains 'quality' minutes from Byron Mullens, Bismack Biyombo and Josh McRoberts, all who are at least 6-9, with Mullens reaching 7-foot. Rick Pitino's front-court would be looking up. Only four Cardinal players are taller than 6-6 and none of them reach the 7-foot mark. Gorgui Dieng is Louisville's tallest player at 6-foot-11 and is the team's best rebounder. Chane Behanan, listed at 6-6, has tallied the second-most rebounds for the Cardinals. It is a tough match-up physically for Louisville as they also weigh 20 pounds less per player than the Bobcats. Charlotte is taller and larger before tip-off and even more experienced afterward. 

Kids are kids and professionals are professionals.  Both teams play very different basketball. That being said, it is still the same game. If the ball bounces the right way enough times, could the Cardinals score and steal their way to a victory? First, we'll see if they can defeat the competition at their own level, and maybe we could discuss it afterward.

Stats from: BasketballReference,, 

1 comment:

  1. There is no way they could do that against the Bobcats. And if they found a way to get those steals, they still wouldn't win. I hate when people compare good college teams to pro teams. The best college teams wouldn't have a chance. Many players on the Bobcats are former college studs. The only reason they can't win is because they are playing against way better competition in the NBA. If Charlotte played in the NCAA this year they'd be my pick to win it all.