NCAA Tournament: Viewing Guide by Style of Play

By Jordan Petersen

No matter what type of basketball you prefer to watch, the NCAA Tournament has it. Here’s who to watch based on style of play.

The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is that it has something to offer for everyone.

Upsets, check. Blue-bloods, check. Great defense, check. Creative plays, check.

Whatever you are looking for, the tournament has it.

Teams win by playing their style and all teams play a little bit differently. As coaches and fans, we all have preferences on what we like to watch. Whatever your preference, there is a team in the tournament that plays that way.

It is a great time to study the most successful college teams and take away bits and pieces from the best players and coaches in the game. To make your tournament viewing experience as easy as possible, we’ve broken down a good share of the 68 teams into simple categories based on style of play metrics. Depending on your interests, now you’ll know which teams to focus on. (All stats are from

Click on a highlighted team to view XsOs on the PlayBank.

Enjoy the madness, everybody!


Fast Pace (Possessions per game)

UNC 78.0
Buffalo 76.5
Belmont 76
Duke 75.6
Arizona State 75.3

Methodical Pace (Possessions per game)

Virginia 62.7
St Mary’s 65.9
Virginia Tech 66.1
Kansas State 66.2
Liberty 66.5

Scoring from 3-Pointers

Auburn 43.4%
Villanova 42.8%
North Dakota State 40.3%
Wofford 40.1%
Virginia Tech 38.9%

Efficient Offense (Points per possession)

Gonzaga 1.212
Wofford 1.166
Virginia 1.145
Belmont 1.143
Tennessee 1.138

Offensive Rebound Percentage

New Mexico State 36.8%
LSU 36.8%
Baylor 36.6%
Cincinnati 35.9%
Duke 35.2%

Offensive Styles of Play

Mover Blocker: Virginia
Ball Screen: Gonzaga, Northern Kentucky, St. Mary’s
4 Out 1 in: Belmont, Villanova, Purdue
Swing: Wisconsin
Dribble Drive Principals: Buffalo, Kentucky
Spread: Oregon

Horns Elbow Series: Duke


Efficient Defense (Points per possession allowed)

Texas Tech .856
VCU .863
Michigan .877
Virginia .878
Houston .883

3FG% Allowed

Virginia 27.2%
Houston 27.4%
VCU 27.6%
Murray State 28.2%
Michigan 28.4%

Defensive Rebounding Percentage

Utah State 81.7%
Vermont 80.2%
New Mexico State 79.2%
Nevada 78.7%
St. Mary’s 78.5%

Zone Defense

Syracuse 2-3
Washington 2-3
Ole Miss 1-3-1
Oregon 2-3
Baylor 1-1-3


  • Fastest Pace: LSU vs Yale (73.9 vs 74.8)
  • Potential Fastest Pace: Buffalo vs Arizona State (76.5 vs 75.3)
  • Slowest Pace: Villanova vs St. Mary’s (67.5 vs 65.9)
  • Contrasting Pace: Maryland vs Belmont (67.8 vs 76)
  • Shooting/Defending the 3: Marquette vs Murray State
    • Marquette averages 39.3% from 3
    • Murray State allows teams to shoot 28.2% from 3
  • Rebounding Battle: LSU vs Yale
    • LSU is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, grabbing 12.4 offensive rebounds per game which is the best in the tournament.
    • Yale averages the 4th most defensive rebounds in the tournament at 28.4.
  • Defensive Battle: Kansas State vs UC Irvine
    • Kansas State gives up 59.2 ppg
    • UC Irvine gives up 63.6 ppg

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Jordan Petersen is a former collegiate player and coach. He currently runs Positionless Basketball, which provides elite level basketball training and camps for youth players all the way to college and professional. It's mission is to provide student-athletes with a unique experience that develops players' minds and athletic performance.
March 8, 2019: Virginia Tech Hokies coach Buzz Williams call a play during NCAA basketball action between the Miami (Fl) Hurricanes and the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum Blacksburg, VA. Virginia Tech defeats Miami (Fl) 84 -70. Jonathan Huff/CSM(Credit Image: © Jonathan Huff/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

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