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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Defense Gets You to the Final Four, Offense Wins it All

Welp, I guess we are all here now.  I think fans are now buckled in for the remainder of this basketball season with this team.  They endeared themselves on Saturday against West Virginia with one of the best comebacks in UK history.  They finally showed what their potential could mean for March.  If Knox plays like that, the guards are knocking down shots, big men getting rebounds and finishing, you would think that this team COULD make the Final Four.

But do the numbers back it up?  I think a good metric to use when determining possibilities getting to the Final Four is the KenPom rankings.  The formula he uses takes into account more factors than anything else I can see and using the Adjusted Offense and Defense ratings can be a great stat to determine just how good a team is.  Currently, Kentucky ranks 43rd in the country in Adjusted Offense and 27th in Defense.  Certainly very solid numbers.  But good enough to make the Final Four?  Below are each and every Final Four team in the last 15 years and what their final offense and defense rankings were in the KemPom rankings.  Those bolded won the national title:

Adjusted Offense
1: 2007 Florida, 2008 UNC, 2009 UNC, 2010 Duke, 2013 Michigan, 2015 Wisconsin, 2016 UNC
2: 2003 Marquette, 2004 Duke, 2005 UNC, 2007 Georgetown, 2008 Kansas, 2012 Kentucky
3: 2003 Texas, 2005 Illinois, 2006 Florida, 2015 Duke, 2016 Villanova
4: 2007 Ohio State, 2014 Wisconsin
6: 2004 Oklahoma St, 2005 Michigan St, 2008 Memphis, 2012 Ohio St, 2015 Kentucky
7: 2008 UCLA, 2013 Louisville
8: 2005 Louisville, 2011 Kentucky
9: 2004 UCONN, 2017 UNC
12: 2003 Kansas, 2010 West Virginia
14: 2014 Kentucky, 2015 Michigan St
16: 2016 Oklahoma, 2017 Gonzaga
17: 2003 Syracuse, 2009 UCONN, 2017 Oregon
19: 2011 UCONN, 2014 Florida
23: 2012 Kansas
24: 2009 Villanova
26: 2009 Michigan St, 2013 Syracuse
27: 2007 UCLA
28: 2004 Georgia Tech
31: 2006 UCLA
33: 2010 Michigan St
35: 2013 Wichita St
39: 2014 UCONN
43: 2011 Butler
47: 2011 VCU
49: 2010 Butler
50: 2016 Syracuse
62: 2006 LSU
66: 2006 George Mason
91: 2017 South Carolina
112: 2012 Louisville

Adjusted Defense
1: 2008 Kansas, 2012 Louisville, 2013 Louisville, 2015 Kentucky, 2017 Gonzaga
2: 2007 UCLA, 2008 Memphis
3: 2003 Kansas, 2003 Duke, 2006 LSU, 2009 UCONN, 2012 Kansas, 2014 Florida, 2017 South Carolina
4: 2004 Georgia Tech, 2005 Illinois, 2006 UCLA, 2012 Ohio St
5: 2005 UNC, 2008 UCLA, 2010 Duke, 2016 Villanova
6: 2004 UCONN, 2009 Michigan St, 2013 Syracuse
7: 2006 Florida, 2010 Butler, 2012 Kentucky
10: 2009 Villanova, 2014 UCONN
11: 2004 Oklahoma St, 2007 Ohio State, 2015 Duke, 2017 UNC
13: 2006 George Mason, 2007 Florida
14: 2003 Syracuse, 2008 UNC
15: 2011 UCONN
16: 2011 Kentucky
17: 2016 Oklahoma, 2017 Oregon
18: 2009 UNC, 2016 Syracuse
20: 2005 Louisville, 2013 Wichita St
21: 2007 Georgetown, 2010 West Virginia, 2016 UNC
27: 2010 Michigan St, 2015 Michigan St
28: 2005 Michigan St
32: 2014 Kentucky
35: 2014 Wisconsin, 2015 Wisconsin
37: 2013 Michigan
46: 2011 Butler
58: 2003 Texas
78: 2011 VCU
109: 2003 Marquette

A couple stats:

  1. 42 of the 60 teams were in the Top 20 in Adjusted Offense.  47 of the 60 teams were in the Top 20 in Adjusted Defense.
  2. But for national champions, only 3 out of 15 were outside the Top 10 in Offense, while 6 of the 15 were outside the Top 10 in defense.
  3. Those ranked outside the Top 50 in either category were elite in the other sans VCU in 2011.  2003 Texas (3rd Offense), 2003 Marquette (2nd Offense), 2006 LSU (3rd Defense), 2006 George Mason (13th Defense), 2017 South Carolina (3rd Defense), 2012 Louisville (1st Defense).  Point being, you have to be elite in something, unless you are VCU.
  4. The worst Offensive team to win the title: 2014 UCONN (39th).  The worse defensive team: 2009 UNC (18th).

Kentucky’s numbers are not yet at Final Four caliber.  But YET is the key word there.  This team might be coming into form and I expect their KenPom numbers to go up over the next 6 weeks heading into the NCAA Tournament.  Let’s see if either the offense or the defense can get into the Top 20 by then, because if not, it’s gonna be hard to see the Cats getting to San Antonio this year.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

6 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Defense Gets You to the Final Four, Offense Wins it All



  1. Rixter
    10:05 am January 29, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t think Louisville made the Final 4 in 2012 or 2013.



  2. Booher
    10:32 am January 29, 2018 Permalink

    True



  3. rainman
    10:38 am January 29, 2018 Permalink

    But, this is not a typical year! There is no standout team, that should
    open these numbers up?



  4. Underdog
    12:10 pm January 29, 2018 Permalink

    2012 KY is not bolded in the section on Defense, as of 12:10 pm.