Hoosiers, Jayhawks gain champ cred; Buckeyes, Gators, Tar Heels fall

In my November 17 blog, only a couple games into the season, I did my first champ check of the year. I evaluated the AP Top 20 against four of the eight stats that the last 12 champions have possessed. At that point, 14 teams met the criteria.

Every other week, I check the AP Top 20 against eight characteristics that the last 12 champions have possessed:

  • Earned a one, two or three seed
  • Came from a Power conference (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 or SEC)
  • Were led by a coach with more than five tourney trips and at least one Elite Eight run
  • Either went to the previous year’s dance or had an All-American
  • Averaged more than 73 points per game
  • Allowed fewer than 73 points per game
  • Owned an average scoring margin of at least seven points per game.
  • Played a schedule among the 75 strongest in the country

So which teams in this week’s AP Top 20 have the chops to be champs—and which don’t? Take a look at this chart:

champcheck_121712

When I did this analysis two weeks ago, Indiana didn’t make the grade because their SOS was so soft. Ironically, with their loss to Butler, their schedule toughened up enough for them to meet that qualification. The same thing happened to Kansas, the other first-timer on the list.

Meanwhile, Ohio State, Florida and North Carolina have played their way off of the list. The Buckeyes did it by loading up on too many powderpuffs. The Gators saw their offensive output fall below the 73-point average threshold. And the Tar Heels didn’t make the AP Top 20.

That leaves only seven teams with the qualities of a tourney champion: Duke, Michigan, Syracuse, Louisville, Indiana, Kansas, and Minnesota. My guess is that the Gophers will be first team to drop out of this list. And OSU and Cinci are the most likely candidates to earn their champ wings.

Every couple weeks, I also track the teams whose AP rankings don’t reflect their possession-based efficiency numbers. This is the invaluable “Pythag” rating that Ken Pomeroy tracks on www.kenpom.com. Right now, according to efficiency numbers, six teams don’t deserve to be ranked in the top 20. The biggest imposter is—surprise, surprise—Butler (ranked 44th in Pythag) but Georgetown (36), Missouri (32), Illinois (28), New Mexico (27) and San Diego State (25) aren’t playing as efficiently as their ranking would indicate either.

They’ve supplanted six more efficient squads. Pitt is the most criminal omission (ranked sixth, yes sixth, in Pythag). Kentucky (12) Wisconsin (14), VCU (16), Notre Dame (19) and UNLV (19) also have a beef.

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4 Responses to Hoosiers, Jayhawks gain champ cred; Buckeyes, Gators, Tar Heels fall

  1. Jay says:

    Peter,
    I see your 8 items(10 really – since 2 are double requirements) for championship wins, but I wonder if they have an affect on earlier round games. I am interested in a method of tie breaking for closely seeded early round games. If I assign a point for each of the 10 items in your bullet point list, would the tightly matched game go to the team with the most items checked off on your list?
    What do you think?

  2. ptiernan says:

    They don’t necessarily help in what I call “toss-up” games–match-ups where the seed difference is less than four positions. But I do a whole series of articles on this topic in January/February. Keep your eye out for it. It will probably be in the “Tips” section. Right now, I’m working on the “Seed Match-up Guide,” which will also have more information about every match-up there’s ever been in the tourney (obviously all the first rounders, but all second-rounders that have occurred, like 10v15, etc.)

  3. Matt says:

    Welcome back…finally catching up to the 2012-2013 material. I see, once again, you are using points scored (i.e., PF>73, PF<73) as one of the criteria for selecting a champ. I also see you are increasing your use of Pythag stats. When do you think you'll finally switch to points per possession, instead of points scored, in your analysis of champs?

    • ptiernan says:

      Once we get 10 years in, Matt, it might make sense to change. Pomeroy data just goes back to 2004 (at least data from Selection Sunday). I still maintain that a certain amount of offensive output is important. As efficient offensively as they might be, you don’t see slow-down teams like Wisconsin cutting down the nets.

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