13) Last four national titles were won by a #1-seed; last national champ that wasn’t a #1-seed? Villanova, six years ago- they were a #2-seed.
12) eFG% (FG%, but where a 3-pointer counts as 1.5 made baskets) seems to be a big indicator of NCAA Turney success.
Last four tournaments, nine of 16 Final Four teams were in the top 40 nationally in eFG%; 12 of 20 were in the top 100. Last three national champs ranked #1-19-7 on eFG%.
11) Depth means very little; last four years, only one of 16 Final Four teams was in the top 150 in bench minutes for that season. Longer TV timeouts, refs calling fewer fouls fuels that theory.
10) Last four Final Four’s teams, by seed #:
9) Defensive eFG% is also a solid indicator:
— 13 of last 16 Final Four teams were in top 100 in eFG% defense
— 8 of last 16 were in the top 50.
There are always exceptions, which is what makes handicapping interesting; Baylor won the national title last year- their eFG% defense was ranked #121, but they ranked #4 in forcing turnovers.
South Carolina made the Final Four in 2017; I wouldn’t have bet on them with your money, but they got there as a #7-seed. Like Baylor, they were strong at forcing turnovers (#5)
I have 17 categories on my chart here; 14 of the last 16 Final Four teams were in the top 11 nationally, in at least one category.
8) 3-point shooting has become more and more important; last three tournaments, 9 of 12 Final Four teams ranked in the top 50 in 3-point shooting %age.
7) Teams that get a lot of their points on the foul line don’t get to the Final Four much, adding to the theory that refs call fewer fouls in March Madness.
Last four tournaments, only 1 of 16 Final Four teams (that 2017 South Carolina squad) ranked in the top 100 in %age of points scored on foul line. No other team ranked in the top 150.
6) Strength of schedule is an indicator; 12 of last 16 Final Four teams ranked in top 50 in strength schedule; Gonzaga’s two Final Four trips are two of the four schedules that fell outside the top 50 (72-89).
Today’s Gonzaga program is like UNLV was thirty years ago; very big fish in a small pond.
5) Does experience matter? 12 of last 16 Final Four teams were in top 100 of experience; only 6 of 16 Final Four teams were in the top 100 of continuity.
Sadly, there is no metric for TALENT; good/great players win championships, in any sport.
So what teams, at this point, figure to be favorites in March:
4) eFG% leaders:
— Loyola, Chi
Also, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky
3) defensive eFG% leaders:
— San Diego State
Also, VCU, USC, Gonzaga, UConn
2) 3-point %age leaders:
— South Dakota State
— North Carolina
Also, Colorado State, Michigan State, Loyola Chi, Murray State
1) Teams with most experience:
— St Bonaventure
Also, Buffalo, Seton Hall, SMU, Drake
These numbers will change over the six weeks; we’ll keep an eye on them before we predict who will be in the Final Four