Photo via Louisiana Athletics
Tennessee basketball is back in the NCAA Tournament, landing as a four-seed in the East Region with a first round matchup against Louisiana in Orlando.
The Ragin’ Cajuns are making their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in Bob Marlin’s 13th season as Louisiana’s head coach. Louisiana was a 14-seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament where they fell to Creighton in the first round of the tournament.
Let’s take a quick look at the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
How Louisiana Got Here
The Ragin’ Cajuns were the two-seed in the Sun Belt Conference where they defeated Georgia Southern, Texas State and South Alabama to earn the NCAA Tournament bid. It was a favorable path for Louisiana as they beat the conference’s eight-seed, 11-seed and seven-seed to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Louisiana enters the NCAA Tournament 26-7 (13-5 Sun Belt) and ranks 92nd in KenPom. The Ragin’ Cajuns fell to Drake 76-64 in November Texas 100-72 in December while winning the rest of their non conference games.
The Sun Belt Tournament Champions’ best non conference wins came over Samford, Harvard, Louisiana Tech and SMU.
Louisiana lost its first two Sun Belt games before reeling off 10 straight wins in the middle of the conference schedule. The Ragin’ Cajuns struggled down the stretch, losing three of their final six regular season games before winning the conference tournament.
Marlin’s 13th Louisiana teams best wins (according to KenPom) are Marshall, South Alabama and Southern Miss.
Where Louisiana Impresses
Louisiana is an offensively minded team, ranking 57th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and 146th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Ragin’ Cajuns play an inside out style of basketball, scoring 54.3% of its points from two-point range and only 26.5% from three-point range. That’s the case in large part due to star power forward Jordan Brown (more on him in a bit).
While Louisiana likes to score from the inside, the shoot the ball well from the perimeter. The Ragin’ Cajuns made 36.6% of their three-point attempts this season, a mark that ranks 49th nationally.
When they miss three-pointers, Louisiana is good at rebounding them. The Ragin’ Cajuns rank 31st in offensive rebounding efficiency. Why they don’t rebound as well on the defensive end, Louisiana is still good postinf the nation’s 83rd best rate.
Louisiana isn’t overly impressive anywhere defensively but is good at earning steals with its ball pressure. The Sun Belt Champions earn steals on 10.7% of possessions, a rate that ranks as the 66th best nationally.
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Where Louisiana Struggles
The only area on the offensive end Louisiana struggled and that’s at the free throw line. The Ragin’ Cajuns are making just 67% of their free throw attempts on the season— one of the worst marks in the country.
Louisiana does not do a strong job of defending the three-point line, allowing opponents to make 35.9% of triples on the season. Most made baskets against the Ragin’ Cajuns come off of assists, an area Tennessee thrives.
The Ragin’ Cajuns rim protection is also lacking despite Brown’s large frame. Louisiana ranks just 253rd nationally in block percentage. Due to its poor rim protection, teams get to the foul line at an extremely high rate against Louisiana.
Standout Ragin’ Cajuns
Everything for Louisiana starts with 6-foot-11 power forward Jordan Brown. One of the top players in the Sun Belt and a former top recruit that went to Arizona, Brown averages 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Brown shoots an efficient 57% from the field but struggles as he gets further away from the basket. The Louisiana star is shooting just 61% from the foul line this season.
Senior shooting guard Greg Williams Jr. is Louisiana’s best perimeter scorer. The 6-foot-3 senior is averaging 13.1 points per game on 40% shooting from three-point range.
6-foot-7 senior Terrence Lewis II is the secondary interior scorer for Louisiana, averaging 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Lewis can’t shoot from the perimeter which could limit his scoring chances against a taller front line.
Themus Fulks is one of the best point guards in the Sun Belt, dishing out 5.9 assists per games while turning it over 3.1 times per game. Fulks can score as well, totaling 9.4 points per game on 44% shooting from the field and 34% shooting from three-point range.
Kentrell Garnett is Louisiana’s best three-point shooter, making 42% of his triples on the season. The sophomore guard can’t score much besides from deep and is averaging just 6.7 points per game.