Fun With KenPom: Final Four Edition

Will defense keep Ricardo Ratliffe and Mizzou out of the Final Four?

I went back to KenPom to analyze the offensive and defensive rankings of the teams that made the Final Four between 2003 and 2011. Again, I’m using KenPom’s rankings of adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies. If you want to know more about those stats, click here. Here’s some of what I found:

Average Ranks of Final Four Teams (2003-2011):

Offense: 13.89

Defense: 17.44

Outliers – Final Four teams ranking outside the top 30 in offense or defense:

2003 Marquette (3 seed): 1st in offense, 101st in defense

2003 Texas (1 seed): 3rd in offense, 44th in defense

2006 George Mason (11 seed): 49th in offense, 18th in defense

2006 LSU (4 seed): 50th in offense, 4th in defense

2010 Butler (5 seed): 50th in offense, 5th in defense

2011 Butler (8 seed): 50th in offense, 49th in defense

2011 VCU (11 seed): 32nd in offense, 86th in defense

OBSERVATIONS:

– 2010 and 2011 were the only years where the average rank for both offense (26.25) and defense (41) were above 10.

– 2004 and 2008 were the only years where the average rank for both offense (9 in ’04 and 3.5 in ’08) and defense (6 in ’04 and  9 in ’08) were below 10.

– Of the 36 teams that made the Final Four between 2003 and 2011, just seven had an offense or defense that ranked outside the top 30. Four of those teams ranked outside the top 30 on one side of the ball, but made up for it with a top five ranking in the other category. One team, George Mason, ranked 49th in offense, but had a top 20 defense (18th). However, things got really weird in 2011. VCU and Butler had both offenses and defenses that ranked outside the top 30. Their runs to the Final Four were unprecedented, and tremendously fun to watch.

What Does This Mean For the 2012 Tournament?

Well, not too much. As we especially saw last season, anything can happen in the NCAA Tournament. It’s what makes college basketball so beautiful and exhilarating. But looking at the average rankings of previous Final Four teams, we can see which teams are in the best shape to make a deep tournament run.

Here are some teams that have similar or better rankings to the average Final Four team of the last nine years (These are teams that rank in the top 30 in both offense and defense, as of Feb. 25th):

Kentucky: 3rd in offense, 8th in defense

Ohio State: 14th in offense, 1st in defense

Michigan State: 12th in offense, 2nd in defense

Kansas: 10th in offense, 4th in defense

Syracuse: 9th in offense, 13th in defense

North Carolina: 11th in offense, 14th in defense

Wichita State: 8th in offense, 24th in defense

Marquette: 23rd in offense, 19th in defense

Baylor: 13th in offense, 30th in defense

Memphis: 25th in offense, 21st in defense*

*Surprising, huh?

Here are some teams, assuming their rankings don’t drastically improve in the next three weeks, that would join the list of Final Four outliers if they were to make it to New Orleans:

Missouri: 1st in offense, 74th in defense*

Duke: 4th in offense, 56th in defense

Florida: 2nd in offense, 85th in defense

* That’s a similar profile to 2003 Marquette, but do the Tigers have anyone who can take over a game like Dwyane Wade? Marcus Denmon is good, but I’m not sure he’s Wade good...

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1 Comment

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One response to “Fun With KenPom: Final Four Edition

  1. Pingback: Snakes In The Weeds: 5 Teams Better Than Their NCAA Tournament Seeds | A Work In Progress

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