Quick-and-dirty final Champ Check

Now that the seeds are announced and the season has played out, we can list our final teams that meet the qualifications that the last dozen champions have possessed:

  • A one, two or three seed
  • Member of a Power conference: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 or SEC
  • Either went to the previous year’s dance or have an All-American
  • Led by a coach with more than five tourney trips and at least one Elite Eight run
  • Averaging more than 73 points per game
  • Allowing fewer than 73 points per game
  • An average scoring margin of at least seven points per game
  • A schedule among the 75 strongest in the country.

Only four teams meet all these conditions: Louisville, Kansas, Indiana and Duke. Not a bad collection of teams to run with.

I also did two different KenPom tests to determine the champ. My first one was based on offensive and defensively efficiency ranking. I had used the thresholds of 17th in OE and 25th in DE—but I realized these rankings were based against the tourney field and not all 247 D-I teams. So I relaxed the criteria slightly to 25/25. On that basis, ten teams make the grade: Florida, Louisville, Indiana, Gonzaga, Ohio State, Duke, Pitt, Kansas, Michigan State, Syracuse and Miami.

That said, I also went by the raw KenPom numbers. The weakest offensive champ (UConn) had an OE of 115.1 points per 100 possessions and the weakest defender (again, the Huskies) allowed 92.2 points per 100 possessions. If we test the tourney field against these numbers, only Indiana, Gonzaga, Duke, Florida and Pitt make the grade.

So, on the basis of the three tests, here are your lead candidates to cut down the nets:

  1. Indiana (passes all 3 tests)
  2. Duke (3)
  3. Louisville (2)
  4. Kansas (2)
  5. Florida (2)
  6. Pitt (2)
  7. Gonzaga (2)
  8. Ohio State (1)
  9. Michigan State (1)
  10. Syracuse (1)
  11. Miami (1)
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22 Responses to Quick-and-dirty final Champ Check

  1. Ryan Tressler says:

    I love Indiana this year, but I don’t know about Duke (they are much better with Kelly it appears) . . . very interesting stuff.

    • Andy M says:

      I’m not at all excited about Duke. They cannot rebound, and two seeds that don’t rebound tend to get dropped early.

  2. Dave D says:

    How do you feel about New Mexico and Florida? Both are 3 seeds that don’t meet the final four model’s criteria. But, both definitely pass the eye test. Plus, I feel like Ohio State has a tough road with Iona/Iowa State. Does the fact that these two 3 seeds violate the final four model render them incapable of making a final four run? I like Florida I lot, but I’m conflicted on New Mexico/Ohio State.

    • ptiernan says:

      Nothing invalidates any possibility–except the actual outcome. I’m not sold on New Mexico–because of their history of tourney underachievement. I like the Gators.They’re the most efficient team in the country according to KenPom numbers. But they can’t seem to figure out a way to win close games.

      • Dave D says:

        I looked more closely at the final four model and I found something really interesting. Kansas State met all the requirements for a 4 seed to make the final four except for 1… they allow 60.1 points per game and the model specified that a 4 seed needs to allow 61 points per game. Thats dangerously close, and with all scoring down in college basketball it may be reasonable to understand why they’re not allowing 61 points per game. Although, based on the eye test, I’m not sold on KSU. Also, UNC was very close to making the cut too. I think they could make a deep run.

      • Ryan H says:

        Does KenPom update his rankings through the tournament or does he cut them off the rankings at the start of the dance. Because according to his previous rankings 6 of 10 champions have been ranked #1 in his efficiency rankings but it seems that might include the tourney games themselves

        • ptiernan says:

          The KenPom data from the past includes tourney results. So it’s self-fulfilling. I always make sure to grab the pre-tourney KenPom data. That’s the only way it can be used as a valid predictive measure.

      • Jim Snaza says:

        I’m the opposite on tourney underachievement. Shouldn’t past underachievement with different players have no effect on this team? I think it’s more voo-doo than bracket science, unless a coach is making poor decisions.

        Pitt underachieved as a 1 seed in the past, but they may make the Final Four as an 8 seed. Who knows what makes Dixon tick? Maybe a little less pressure may make him more successful.

        Look at Donovan, he underachieved several times before breaking through with the Noah/Brewer teams.

        • ptiernan says:

          I see what you’re saying, and there were certainly instances of coaches overachieving after a period of underachievement. Donovan isn’t a good example though: he was a +1.271 PASE after three dances. If you look at the Ratings+ list, you’ll see coaches with a penchant for underachievement (Dixon is near the bottom). It’s worth asking if that’s just happenstance, but the fact remains that their numbers aren’t good. And this is comparison against seed expectations–not against some overall measure of quality.

  3. CoachKFan says:

    Hey Peter: You’ve probably noticed this, but KenPom picks do really well in the even years and not so well in the odd years. Just an anomaly I guess, (pause) or is it? Maaa-aaaw…

  4. Andy says:

    Uhhhh…Pitt? Isn’t # 1 on your criteria a “one, two or three seed”?

  5. RickLBermes says:

    Hey Peter… as an insider member, will we get to see any of your brackets or bracket that you fill out?

  6. Ed says:

    Duke’s KP D/E on Friday or Saturday was ranked 26th then come Sunday 25th. That in itself is probably better for them than a 1 seed. :)

  7. Ed says:

    Peter- do you feel strongly that on average for the last nine years or so the O/E for eight teams should be included towards the cutoff on the KP test?

  8. Nick says:

    What’s the relationship between NCAA Tourney champ and teams that win their respective division tournaments? For example, would history show that a team like Louiville be a better pick than Indiana because Louiville won the Big East tournament and Indiania lost the big ten?

  9. Gary Diny says:

    Pete, Do you have any info on teams record against the tourney field? I recall a few years ago reading somewhere that of FF participants, record against the field held some predictive value.

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