Wisconsin rejoins champ list, Florida owns best efficiency numbers

Two weeks ago, Wisconsin dropped off the champ list. This week, they’re back on. Now eight teams meet the criteria that the last 13 champs 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

The teams that meet all these criteria include: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Villanova, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Michigan. Louisville fell short again of making the grade because of an increasingly weak SOS (104). Here’s the legend…and then the breakdown:

  • Light red boxes show where teams missed the criteria
  • Orange boxes show teams meeting all criteria
  • The light blue box shows the team that just missed because of SOS
  • Dark blue tabs on the right show teams meeting KenPom ranking criteria
  • The dark red box indicates the team meeting KenPom raw efficiency criteria
  • The light purple boxes in the second column show teams whose KenPom ranking suggest that they don’t deserve their AP top 20 rating


Of the eight teams meeting the basic champ criteria, two are in serious danger of falling off due to low scoring output. Surprisingly, Arizona’s scoring average is just 73.1 points per game and trending down. And Wisconsin is at 73.3 points a game, with a handful of meat-grinder Big Ten matches to go. Heck, if Michigan continues playing like they did on Sunday, their 75-point average could dip below the 73-point barrier.

The two possession-based champ checks saw changes this week as well. Last week only four squads had champion-quality KenPom efficiency rankings. Since Pomeroy started posting efficiency stats 10 years ago, every champion has ranked at least 17th and 25th in offensive and defensive efficiency, respectively. The only teams that meet these parameters are Syracuse, Florida, Kansas, Villanova and Louisville. The Gators are the newcomers.

Florida also owns the distinction of being the only team whose raw efficiency numbers are championship grade. Every champion for the last decade has scored at least 115.1 and given up no more than 92.2 points per 100 possessions. Twenty teams met the offensive efficiency threshold, but only eight were strong enough defensively—and just Florida was among the offensive juggernauts. The next closest team was Louisville. The Cardinals missed out on the defensive end by 0.1 points.

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10 Responses to Wisconsin rejoins champ list, Florida owns best efficiency numbers

  1. Greg says:

    You still haven’t addressed the fact that Louisville and Cincinnati are no longer in a power conference.

    • ptiernan says:

      Greg – You’ll note that I haven’t talked much about conferences at all this year. Fact is, the NCAA is slowly rendering me speechless on the subject. I’ve had emails on the illustrious “American” conference arguing for both inclusion and exclusion as a Power conference. Fact is, both American and Big East are watered down (BE less so, but still, it’s not the same). For now, I’ve just kept American teams as Power conferences. Luckily, the point is moot. Neither Cinci nor Louisville are on the outs due to conference affiliation. I’ll address this whole conference deal in a future blog.

  2. Blazers! says:

    You can say they are powerhouse in a inferior competiton. Just like at SEC, it’s all about Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky in the past years. Aside from that, let’s take a look at potential bracketbuster teams. Here is my list: Mercer, Manhattan, Southern Miss, Green Bay, and a #16 seed that’ll give a #1 seed hard time -> Southern U.

  3. Blazers! says:

    Iowa State is your 2009 Wake Forest! Book it, they’ll be booted out in the round of 64.

    • Andy says:

      Good post Blazers, thought I would add a little more here.

      Cincinnati and San Diego State are also in very big trouble, based on similarly weak efficiency numbers coupled with weak SOS’s. I agree with some of your teams as underdogs, but also add UC-Santa Barbara (beaten Cal and won at UNLV, or maybe UC-Irvine whose Pythag numbers are not far behind if they replace them) and Vermont (who nearly won at Duke) as potential teams to lop off one of these weaklings.

      Another bold prediction, after reviewing the Upset Spotting and Pretender/Contender models as stats stand right now, multiple double-digit seeds make the Sweet 16, with a good chance one may slip into the Elite Eight.

      All of what I said here though, is assuming we were filling brackets out now, which of course we are not. But something to watch for sure.

  4. jbessa says:

    Interesting that in a year where offense is up, 6 teams in top 20 fail to meet >73 points per game but only 1 defense fails to make the grade. Arizona stuggling without Ashley. Arizona, Syracuse, Florida and Wisconsin all have high offensive efficiency numbers but are hurt by slow tempo. Is this the year a champ fails to meet all 8 of your criteria? Maybe.

    • Blazers! says:

      Let’s discuss those six teams as to why they fail to meet the >73 scoring offense. San Diego State, Cincinnati, and Virgina are defensive minded team and, they do not have enough consistent scorers in their squad. And San Diego State is in the ***Mountain West***. Syracuse has depth issue and only have four players that average at least 10 points per game (Grant, Fair, Ennis, and Cooney). And they play zone defense, which forces opponent to constantly pass the ball. St. Louis is another defensive minded squad, and they lack stars (enough said). Florida is the only team to argue why their numbers are low. They did lost three important offensive players from last season, so this is a down year for them yet it doesn’t appears to as one. Quick question for Dr. Tiernan, is there any correlation between team field goal percentage and points per game or it is best just to focus on team points per game?

  5. jbessa says:

    Sorry, remove AZ from my comment about high efficiency numbers. Not true.

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