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Who Cuts Down the Nets in Atlanta?

kentuckywins

Truthfully, I just needed an excuse to post this picture again.

In the coming weeks, March Madness will consume this fine nation of ours. Millions of brackets will be filled (and promptly busted), parties will be hosted, and BW3’s will constantly remind us they have the worst commercials in the business. Another thing that makes the tournament so special is the unifying effect it can have on a city.  I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded, but Lexington around this time last year was something special.  This season is drastically different as Kentucky sits firmly on the bubble for the time being. However, many teams around D-1 have a legitimate shot at taking home the title. Given that predicting tournament outcomes is such an integral part of the Madness, I thought it’d be interesting to research past championship caliber teams and compare them to today’s contenders using Kenpom.com’s advanced database.

First and foremost, this comparison isn’t meant to compare the individual talent of respective teams.  This comparison will solely examine a team’s statistical profile, meaning I’ll be investigating overall offensive/defensive efficiency paired with “four factor” characteristics. Again, it’s not based off individual talent, it’s strictly a numerical comparison. Finally, if possible, I’ll be pairing this year’s contenders with similar teams who were successful in taking home the title (and teams who weren’t).

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Indiana: (#1 Adj. Offense, #16 Adj. Defense)

Championship Team Comparison: 2009 North Carolina (#1 Adj. Offense, #16 Adj. Defense)

Non-Championship Team Comparison: 2008 North Carolina (#1 Adj. Offense, #19 Adj. Defense)

Much to the dismay of everyone around the nation, Tom Crean and his band of flopping Hoosiers are legitimate title contenders. If you were unaware, they fit the statistical profile of a champion perfectly. Since 2003, eight teams ranked either #1 or #2 in adjusted offensive efficiency have taken home the NCAA title.  As it currently stands, the Hoosiers are the nation’s best offensive team by a significant margin. For perspective, Michigan, the #2 ranked offense, is behind by 4.6 points. The Hoosiers are prolific shooters, rebound extraordinarily well, and get to the free throw line at a high rate.  However, they aren’t without fault as they rank 113th nationally in turnover percentage.  While detractors can point to their defense as a weakness (and legitimately so), 2009 North Carolina proved that you can win the title with a non-elite defense.  However, you need a powerful offense to mask that problem. Sadly for everyone, Indiana has just that.

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Florida: (#4 Adj. Offense, #2 Adj. Defense)

Championship Team Comparison: 2004 UConn (#5 Adj. Offense, #5 Adj. Defense)

Non Championship Team Comparison: 2008 Memphis (#4 Adj. Offense, #4 Adj. Defense)

It’s difficult to get a read on the Gators; they’re one of the nation’s most efficient teams on both sides of the ball, yet they’ve lost five times to clearly inferior competition (granted those were mostly road games).  On the surface, Florida does not fit the #1 or #2 offense trend, but once you dig deeper, you realize just how close they are to the #2 spot.  Currently, Michigan holds the #2 distinction, but the Gators only find themselves a minuscule 0.5 points behind.  While the Gator offense is elite, they aren’t as balanced offensively as Indiana. Whereas the Hoosiers rank within the top-10 in three of the four “four factor” categories, Florida only finds themselves inside the top ten in effective field goal percentage.  This is concerning because every team will experience an off shooting night eventually. The question going forward will be; how does Florida recover offensively when the shots aren’t falling?

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Louisville: (#25 Adj. Offense, #1 Adj. Defense)

Championship Team Comparison: N/A

Non-Championship Team Comparison: 2009 Memphis (#25 Adj. Offense, #1 Adj. Defense), 2007 Kansas (#17 Adj. Offense, #1 Adj. Defense)

The first thing you should notice about Louisville is that they don’t match the profile of any past champion (since 2003 when these statistics became available).  However, this doesn’t mean the Cardinals can’t cut down the nets in Atlanta. Their offense may not be the best, but they have steady ball handling in Peyton Siva, elite rebounding from Chane Behanan & Gorgui Dieng, and potential for great scoring in Russ Smith (among other things). While their offense isn’t elite, many of their opponents have found it difficult to score against Rick Pitino’s defense. Currently, Louisville has the highest rated defense since 2003, allowing just 0.809 points per possession.  Defense itself may not win championships in college basketball, but if any team can buck the trend, it’ll be the team with the best statistical defense since 2003.

Gonzaga

Gonzaga: (#3 Adj. Offense, #23 Adj. Defense)

Championship Team Comparison: N/A

Non-Championship Team Comparison: 2007 Georgetown (#2 Adj. Offense, #20 Adj. Defense), 2010 Baylor (#3 Adj. Offense, #34 Adj. Defense)

For the first time in school history, Gonzaga is perched atop the AP and Coaches polls, becoming the first non-power six conference school to do so since 2008 Memphis. The Bulldogs have the nation’s third most efficient offense (0.1 behind Michigan). They’re led by 7-foot forward Kelly Olynyk, who’s one of the nation’s premier scorers, pouring in 17.7 per game. The Zags aren’t one-hit-wonders on offense either as both Kevin Pangos and Elias Harris are averaging over 11 points per game.  While Mark Few’s squad is elite offensively, they have some work to do defensively as they’re 2.3 points away from a top-ten defensive rating. Much like Louisville, it’d be unprecedented if they were to win a title given their statistical profile. However, with some defensive improvement, they could be right there in the end.

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Duke: (#5 Adj. Offense, #28 Adj. Defense)

Championship Team Comparison: N/A

Non-Championship Team Comparison: 2011 Pittsburgh (#5 Adj. Offense, #25 Adj. Defense), 2010 Ohio State (#7 Adj. Offense, #24 Adj. Defense)

While the nation has a firm grasp on how strong the previous four teams are, we know a lot less about Duke because of Ryan Kelly’s recent return. The Blue Devils lost four games in his 14 game absence, but they’re undefeated with him on the floor.  This is due to his team best offensive rating and three point percentage (56%).  Currently, Duke finds themselves 1.1 points away from the magical #2 offensive ranking and the re-addition of Kelly may be exactly what the Devils need in order to pull that feat off. While Coach K’s squad is fine offensively, they need some polish defensively.  They’re currently slotted 28th overall in defensive efficiency, lingering 3.2 points away from a top-ten ranking in that category. Duke is certainly a contender, but they need to improve quickly if they want to fit the historical profile.

 

Admittedly, this kind of comparison isn’t perfect, but it gives a good gauge on how strong some of the perceived contenders are.  Currently, only two schools, Indiana and Florida, fit the profile of a champion according to the numbers. However, two other schools, Gonzaga and Duke, have a shot if they can clean up their defensive play.  Louisville doesn’t fit the traditional profile, but a defense that strong cannot be ignored.  While these five are the class of D-1, it may not even matter this year given the perceived “downness” of college hoops. Knowing this, it’s anyone’s guess to who takes home the title.

 

Article written by Jonathan Schuette

13 Comments for Who Cuts Down the Nets in Atlanta?



  1. UC Farmer
    9:39 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    I think Tom Izzo is going to take them all down.



  2. SayWhat
    9:43 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    I think this years champ will be a first time National Champion…so I’m going with Gonzaga from this list. This year will be a wild run to the championship…only wish UK was better equipped to make a run.



  3. oldschool
    9:43 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    Hoosiers have the perfect combition of experience, pure talent, shooting, balance and depth. They have a very nice point guard in Yogi, one of the best big men with great low-post moves in Zeller, an athletic stud in Oladipo and two great shooters and scorers in Hulls and Watford. Off the bench they’ve got guys like Sheehey who can come in on a given night and give you 20 points. They’ve got a five or six guys who can contribute solid minutes off the bench for a rotation of 10-11 guys. Most teams in the country don’t go that deep.

    Of course – winning six games in a row seems extremely hard for anyone to do this season – but just based on their personnel, the Hoosiers do seem to be the best team this season.



  4. Pitino
    9:53 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    This year, it’s in the CARDS….. and then I retire to CBS.



  5. Unfortunately
    9:55 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    The cards cut down the nets



  6. jk
    9:57 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink


  7. Rae
    10:31 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    Every year, I pick Gonzaga as a sleeper team, and they’ve been largely disappointing. I’m going all in with them, because if I don’t, and they win it all, I’ll feel like an idiot.

    The way I see it, Gonzaga is making history, either winning it all and shocking the world who worships us elite, or they’ll be the first 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed. Norfolk State is primed for a 16 seed, and they pulled off an upset once. There isn’t too much difference between 15s and 16s, and this year, 1s and 2s are pretty equal.

    Them or someone off this list, like Michigan State or Kansas (they lose a lot this year so it could be their best chance for a couple of years.) I do think we will be a little surprised in the end. The favorite won’t win two years in a row.



  8. Derek4UK
    10:42 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    I think Florida can bring it home. Just as much as Indiana. This is gonna be the hardest year to predict the champs, because of so many good teams. Miami isn’t bad and deft don’t count out Michigan. Duke, Indiana, and Florida is the top picks to win it IMO. Cards will go to sweet 16 and then Russ smith or Peyton Siva will have a off night and loose. Yet unfortunately Duke, Indianda, and Florida, has the bench, and athleticism and talent to make it to the ship. Prob gonna be duke and Indiana in the ship, even tho I hope the hell not. So I’m gonna root for my SEC team other than us. Btw I’m still not counting UK out. Never will because of the talent we have. Call me crazy or just call me a true blooded UK fan. I at least think UK can make it to the sweet 16 at least. Whatever gets UK beyond the 16 will be a team that decides to be just that. Don’t give up on Harrow, Archie, or Poythress. It’s deft gonna take Kyle Wiltjer ON BOTH SIDES. If not than Alex Poythress has gotta realize than he has the capabilities of being just as or more than offensively better. We need the team to become what Juilius Mays has been trying to show em all season long. To trust each other and realize that they are what they and all of us thought they were.



  9. buzzard
    11:08 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    I’m getting nauseous just thinking about IU winning the title. Their fans are vile, obnoxious, odious, unsavory, repulsive, disgusting, contemptible, despicable, reprehensible and loathsome, hateful, nauseating people and I do not like them. Please God, anyone but the Hosiers.



  10. plz no
    11:10 pm March 4, 2013 Permalink

    9 cant agree more anyone else



  11. ScrewIU
    1:00 am March 5, 2013 Permalink

    I’ll take the Filthy Cards over IU. I’ll take Duke over IU. Anyone but those candy striped morons.



  12. Bluekzu
    9:33 am March 5, 2013 Permalink

    9. Exactly. I’m sure the team is a group of perfectly nice kids, but their fans don’t deserve that kind of reward. Maybe I’m wrong, but the worst of our fan base in terms of behavior seems to be the norm for them.



  13. IU Fan
    10:16 am March 5, 2013 Permalink

    I want UK and U of L in our NCAA bracket in the worst possible way!! IU Players are all fine outstanding young men full of intelligence and integrity. UK and U of L players are morons, rednecks, or thugs who can’t put an intelligent sentence together to save their lives.
    We will destroy both teams just by the fact that our guys are superior human beings!! The entire state of Kentucky has the collective IQ of a rock!!!