Two years ago, before the last NCAA tournament started, we introduced a system that could help narrow the range, using advanced stats from recent seasons.
It worked – barely.
Virginia, one of six teams that passed all of our statistical tests in 2019, did indeed win the national championship. All it took was one last-second shot to force overtime in the Elite Eight, three last-second free throws in the semi-finals and another late 3-point shot that forced OT into the semifinals. the title match.
Never a doubt.
We could give up while we’re ahead, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, it’s time to bring the same system back for another attempt to narrow the field.
Review: This method uses six stats in which every champion since 2008 has placed in the top half of Division I. All of these stats are available at barttorvik.com – and we’ll use that information to narrow down this year’s contenders.
Stat n ° 1: General classification
T-Rank is the primary measure of overall team strength on barttorvik.com. Every champion since 2008 has been in the top 23 of this ranking, based on the team’s performance before the NCAAs.
This gives us the following initial list of title contenders: Gonzaga, Houston, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, San Diego State, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Loyola Chicago, Villanova, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas , Texas Tech, Southern California, West Virginia, Colorado, Creighton and Arkansas.
Stat # 2: Adjusted Offensive Effectiveness
A stat based on points per 100 possessions, adjusted for the opponent’s strength. The last 12 national champions have all placed in the top 55.
That means two teams are eliminated from this year’s roster: Loyola Chicago (ranked 65th in that statistic) and Tennessee (56th).
Stat # 3: Adjusted Defensive Effectiveness
Every national champion in our sample was in the top 40, so that’s the cutoff point. This eliminates several teams, including a No.1 seed.
Baylor (47th), Iowa (61st), Ohio State (78th), Villanova (72nd), West Virginia (60th) and Creighton (42nd) all fall out of consideration.
Statistic # 4:% defensive eFG
The effective percentage of field goals (eFG%) is a measure of the percentage of field goals in which the 3 points are given additional weight. Every national champion since 2008 has entered the tournament in the top 102 in defensive eFG%.
This statistic does not change anything this year. Every team that does not meet this standard has already been removed due to stat # 2.
Stat n ° 5:% TO
Spin percentage measures how often a team returns the ball, while taking into account the number of possessions. You don’t have to be great in this category to win it all, but each of the last 12 champions has placed at least in the top 125.
So we say, nervously, in some cases, goodbye to Illinois (129th), Alabama (157th), Florida State (231st) and Texas (239th).
USC (124th) barely remains in place.
Stat # 6: Defensive Free Throw Rate
A measure of how often a team puts their opponents on the line. Every champion since 2008 has been in the top 121.
This eliminates Houston (333rd), San Diego State (198th), Connecticut (292nd) and Texas Tech (284th).
It’s also worth pointing out that Baylor (175th) and Illinois (152nd) would not have reached this standard if they hadn’t already been dropped. These two No.1 seeds certainly have a lot going for them, but there are areas where they could be vulnerable.
No one needs to know that this tournament can produce weird results, and in this tough season the advanced stats may be a little less reliable than usual – but the seven teams that have passed this process without failing any of the tests are: Gonzaga, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, USC, Colorado and Arkansas.
Michigan could be limited by the injury to Isaiah Livers, and Virginia has been facing COVID-19 issues. It may really be Gonzaga’s year.
Especially if fortune smiles on the Bulldogs like it finally did for those Virginia Cavaliers a few years ago.
Follow Noah Trister on www.Twitter.com/noahtrister
More AP College Basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25