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Update: Second look at KenPom.com metrics of last 17 NCAA basketball champs

2019 ncaa tournament bracketologyThis is how peer-reviewing is supposed to work: a reader pointed out a flaw in my reasoning in looking at the KenPom.com metrics of the last 17 NCAA basketball champs.

The flaw: I was looking at post-tourney numbers, which would have an obvious bias.

Teams that had just won six games would be expected to improve in terms of efficiency on both ends of the floor over the course of those six wins.

Fortunately, KenPom.com makes available spreadsheets of its pre-tourney renderings of the national scene.

Which I’ve now reviewed, and … here we go.

 

National champ Adj. Off. Eff. (Pre/post-tourney) Adj. Def. Eff. (Pre/post-tourney)
Villanova (2017-2018) 127.4 (1)/127.8 (1) 96.0 (22)/94.0 (11)
North Carolina (2016-2017) 122.1 (4)/120.7 (9) 94.1 (25)/92.5 (11)
Villanova (2015-2016) 118.3 (15)/122.8 (3) 91.6 (7)/90.8 (5)
Duke (2014-2015) 124.3 (3)/124.5 (3) 94.9 (37)/92.0 (11)
UConn (2013-2014) 111.4 (57)/113.6 (39) 92.2 (12)/91.5 (10)
Louisville (2012-2013) 114.3 (17)/117.7 (7) 83.2 (1)/84.8 (1)
Kentucky (2011-2012) 120.6 (2)/122.2 (2) 88.8 (6)/89.6 (7)
UConn (2010-2011) 114.8 (21)/115.8 (19) 93.1 (27)/91.9 (15)
Duke (2009-2010) 119.3 (4)/121.0 (1) 87.7 (5)/87.7 (5)
North Carolina (2008-2009) 122.6 (1)/123.2 (1) 94.1 (37)/92.1 (18)
Kansas (2007-2008) 121.4 (1)/120.9 (1) 87.5 (3)/85.7 (1)
Florida (2006-2007) 120.9 (2)/122.8 (1) 92.1 (14)/92.0 (13)
Florida (2005-2006) 116.0 (13)/117.9 (3) 92.1 (18)/89.7 (7)
North Carolina (2004-2005) 121.1 (3)/122.5 (2) 91.8 (12)/89.7 (5)
UConn (2003-2004) 116.2 (11)/117.8 (9) 90.3 (10)/89.5 (6)
Syracuse (2002-2003) 113.9 (18)/114.4 (17) 94.0 (31)/91.1 (14)
Maryland (2001-2002) 118.2 (4)/119.2 (4) 91.3 (12)/89.9 (7)

 

What you see when scanning the numbers: there’s something about being ranked in the top 37 both offensively and defensively that seems to stand out.

Sixteen of the 17 national champs in the KenPom.com era were so ranked heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Looking, then, at the 2018-2019 numbers, with the number 37 in mind:

 

Team Adj. Offensive Efficiency (Rank) Adj. Defensive Efficiency (Rank)
UVA (1) 123.3 (2) 86.1 (2)
Gonzaga (2) 127.7 (1) 92.7 (15)
Duke (3) 121.0 (6) 88.7 (6)
Michigan State (4) 121.4 (4) 91.1 (9)
North Carolina (5) 120.1 (7) 91.8 (11)
Michigan (6) 115.3 (20) 86.9 (3)
Tennessee (7) 121.7 (3) 93.6 (21)
Texas Tech (8) 112.7 (37) 85.3 (1)
Kentucky (9) 118.0 (12) 90.8 (8)
Purdue (10) 121.0 (5) 94.7 (30)
Virginia Tech (11) 118.9 (9) 94.6 (29)
Auburn (13) 117.1 (15) 95.7 (37)
Houston (14) 114.1 (26) 92.8 (17)
Florida State (15) 113.3 (32) 92.0 (12)
Kansas (16) 113.7 (28) 92.8 (15)
Maryland (19) 114.6 (23) 94.1 (24)
Louisville (21) 112.8 (36) 92.8 (16)
Buffalo (23) 114.6 (24) 94.9 (32)
Nevada (24) 114.9 (22) 95.2 (34)
Marquette (28) 113.6 (30) 95.5 (35)

 

That’s a pretty crowded pool: 20 teams. Funny how the exact number 37 played in on both sides of the equation with Texas Tech and Auburn.

It’s almost as if they somehow know.

One thing to further spell out: 13 of the 17 KenPom.com-era champs were ranked in the top 10 in one of the two categories.

If we winnow our 2018-2019 pool down using that as a guide:

 

Team Adj. Offensive Efficiency (Rank) Adj. Defensive Efficiency (Rank)
UVA (1) 123.3 (2) 86.1 (2)
Gonzaga (2) 127.7 (1) 92.7 (15)
Duke (3) 121.0 (6) 88.7 (6)
Michigan State (4) 121.4 (4) 91.1 (9)
North Carolina (5) 120.1 (7) 91.8 (11)
Michigan (6) 115.3 (20) 86.9 (3)
Tennessee (7) 121.7 (3) 93.6 (21)
Texas Tech (8) 112.7 (37) 85.3 (1)
Kentucky (9) 118.0 (12) 90.8 (8)
Purdue (10) 121.0 (5) 94.7 (30)
Virginia Tech (11) 118.9 (9) 94.6 (29)

 

Spoiler Alert Redone: See above for your 2018-2019 national champ.

Column by Chris Graham


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