Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 NCAA Tournament: Historical Analysis of Final 4 Teams (Offensive & Defensive Efficiency Ratings)

Here is Part I of my analysis the NCAA tournament based on Ken Pomeroy's Efficiency Ratings. I am going to be updating the historical posts with the 2010 NCAA Tournament data and also analyzing the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Here's the schedule for the analysis I will be doing and links as I post each Part:

Part I: Historical Analysis of Final 4 Teams (Offensive & Defensive Efficiency Ratings)
Part II: Historical Analysis of Top Seeds (1 through 4)
Part III: Historical Analysis of Upsets (5 vs 12 & 6 vs 11)
Part IV: 2011 NCAA Tournament Game by Game Analysis & Possible Upsets

In this post, I am going to do a Historical Analysis of the Final 4 teams since 2003, using Overall Efficiency, Offensive Efficiency, and Defensive Efficiency ratings. I will also give a list of the top teams this year in each of these categories.

Part I: Historical Analysis of Final 4 Teams (Offensive & Defensive Efficiency Ratings)

Here are the overall efficiency ranks of the Final 4 teams from the last 8 seasons, with the champion in italics:

2010: Duke(1), West Virginia(8), Michigan State(24), Butler(26)
2009: North Carolina(2), UConn(3), Michigan State(13), Villanova(19)
2008: Kansas(1), Memphis(2), UCLA(3), North Carolina(4)
2007: Florida(2), Ohio St(4), Georgetown(5), and UCLA(6)
2006: Florida(1), UCLA(3), LSU(10), George Mason(23)
2005: North Carolina(1), Illinois(2), Louisville(4), Michigan St(7)
2004: UConn(2), Duke(1), Oklahoma St(3), Georgia Tech(7)
2003: Syracuse(7), Kansas(1), Texas(10), Marquette(16)

Analysis: The trend from 2003-2008 was for teams ranked in the overall Top 10 in efficiency to make the Final Four. There were two exceptions. The first exception was George Mason, which was a once in a lifetime run for a mid-major and their final ranking of 23 wasn't all that bad anyway. The second was a Dwyane Wade led Marquette team that had an overall efficiency ranking of 16, but was first in offensive efficiency. They also got blown out by 33 points once they reached the Final 4. Most likely due to their porous defensive rating, which checked in at 101 overall.

However, in both 2009 & 2010 we have seen a pair of teams ranked outside the top 10 in overall efficiency make the Final Four. In 2009, both Michigan State(13) & Villanova(19) started the NCAA Tournament ranked outside the Top 10 and both made the Final 4. The Top 10 teams in 2009 were the weakest group since 2006 aka the "George Mason Year." In 2010, the Top 10 teams were slightly stronger than 2009, but still weak overall, and I suspected that at least one team ranked outside the Top 10 going into the NCAA Tournament would make the Final 4. In fact, we saw two teams (Michigan State(24) & Butler(26) make the Final 4 who sat outside the Top 20 in overall efficiency at the start of the NCAA Tournament.

It would appear that we have a trend of at least 2 teams sitting outside then Top 10 in Overall Efficiency making the Final 4. This year is comparable to 2010 & 2009, so I would suspect once again we will see a minimum of one team outside the Top 10 make the Final 4 with the trend pointing to two teams.

Also, the # 1 or # 2 ranked team has won the championship in each of the last 7 years. That's good news for Ohio State and Duke fans, with Kansas lurking with the potential to takeover Duke as the # 2 team. Ohio State is the only team right now that historically profiles as a champion. They would probably be my favorite at this point.

Here are the offensive efficiency ranks of the Final 4 teams from the last 8 seasons, with the champion in italics:

2010: Duke(1), West Virginia(11), Michigan State(38), Butler(55)
2009: North Carolina(1), UConn(20), Michigan State(33), Villanova(25)
2008: Kansas(2), Memphis(4), UCLA(7), North Carolina(1)
2007: Florida(1), Ohio St(4), Georgetown(2), and UCLA(23)
2006: Florida(2), UCLA(28), LSU(50), George Mason(49)
2005: North Carolina(1), Illinois(3), Louisville(7), Michigan St(6)
2004: UConn(4), Duke(2), Oklahoma St(5), Georgia Tech(25)
2003: Syracuse(11), Kansas(6), Texas(3), Marquette(1)

Analysis: Out of the past 32 Final 4 teams we can see the following trends:

- 20 out of the 32 teams ranked in the Top 10 in Offensive Efficiency

- 7 out of 8 Champions were ranked in the Top 5 in Offensive Efficiency, with Syracuse(11) being the one outlier.

- 26 out of the 32 teams were ranked in the Top 25 in Offensive Efficiency, with the only outliers all coming in the weaker 2010, 2009 & 2006 seasons

- 31 out of 32 teams were ranked in the Top 50 in Offensive Efficiency, with Butler(55) being the one outlier.

From these trends, you can see that any team ranked in Top 10 in offensive efficiency has a great chance to make the Final 4. However, in both 2009 & 2010, three of the teams in the Final 4 were Top 10 or worse, so this trend may not be as reliable in a weaker season like this year.

To win the National Championship, it looks like a Top 5 offense is necessary regardless of how strong the Overall Efficiency rankings are. In fact, the # 1 or # 2 most efficient offensive team has won the championship the past 6 seasons. Again this is good news for Ohio State who has the # 1 ranked offense and also Wisconsin who checks in at # 2 with Notre Dame following close by at # 3. However, I don't see Wisconsin winning it all though or Notre Dame either for defensive reasons (see below.) So this trend again points me towards Ohio State as the best choice for National Champ.

If a team is outside the Top 25 in offensive efficiency than they are far less likely to make the Final 4. However, the trend points heavily to some of the more talented teams that are ranked between # 25-50 in offensive efficiency as possible Final 4 teams.

Here are the defensive efficiency ranks of the Final 4 teams from the last 8 seasons, with the champion in italics:

2010: Duke(4), West Virginia(24), Michigan State(27), Butler(15)
2009: North Carolina(35), UConn(3), Michigan State(10), Villanova(25)
2008: Kansas(1), Memphis(4), UCLA(3), North Carolina(19)
2007: Florida(12), Ohio St(15), Georgetown(20), and UCLA(2)
2006: Florida(5), UCLA(3), LSU(4), George Mason(18)
2005: North Carolina(5), Illinois(11), Louisville(14), Michigan St(25)
2004: UConn(5), Duke(4), Oklahoma St(12), Georgia Tech(3)
2003: Syracuse(19), Kansas(1), Texas(44), Marquette(101)

Analysis: Out of the past 32 Final 4 teams we can see the following trends:

- 14 out of the 32 teams ranked in the Top 10 in defensive efficiency

- 25 out of the 32 teams ranked in the Top 20 in defensive efficiency

- 28 out of the 32 teams ranked in the Top 25 in defensive efficiency

- 29 out of the 32 teams ranked in the Top 30 in defensive efficiency

Defense wins championships? Apparently it does, but only to an extent. It helps to be ranked in the Top 25 in Defensive Efficiency if you want to make the Final 4, but once you get there, since most teams are pretty equal on defense, the offense is what separates who wins and who goes home. This was never more true than in the 2009 season, where North Carolina's elite offense made up for what has been the worst defensive team of any champion in the past 8 seasons. In fact, UNC was the worst defensive team of any of the past 24 Final 4 teams. Still a Top 30 defense is a strong indicator of a Final 4 quality team.

This is extremely bad news for Notre Dame & Wisconsin, who despite high powered offenses, check in 62nd & 63rd overall in defensive efficiency. The only team that mirrors them is the 2003 Marquette squad and I don't see any Dwyane Wade's on either of those teams.

Here are the Offensive Effective FG% ranks of the Final 4 teams from the last 8 seasons, with the champion in italics:

2010: Duke(92), West Virginia(164), Michigan State(58), Butler(80)
2009: North Carolina(45), UConn(81), Michigan State(139), Villanova(100)
2008: Kansas(5), Memphis(53), UCLA(75), North Carolina(49)
2007: Florida(1), Ohio St(38), Georgetown(4), and UCLA(41)
2006: Florida(2), UCLA(36), LSU(131), George Mason(24)
2005: North Carolina(4), Illinois(5), Louisville(12), Michigan St(18)
2004: UConn(25), Duke(24), Oklahoma St(8), Georgia Tech(40)
2003: Syracuse(69), Kansas(36), Texas(160), Marquette(18)

Analysis: This stat is all over the place as far as predicting the Final 4. In fact, 2009 & 2010 saw 8 teams with some of the worst effective FG% rankings to make the Final 4 in the past 8 years.

I would not use this stat too much when picking my Final 4, although you probably could limit it to teams within the Top 100. However, be careful with eliminating teams do to a low effective FG%. Last year, we saw three teams (Duke, West Virginia, & Michigan State) with average to below average effective FG%'s compared to previous Final 4 teams. However, they all ranked within the Top 10 in offensive rebounding, which helped make up for the fact they were hitting less shots than other teams. The same applies to UConn(11) & Michigan State(6) in 2009, while UNC(21) & Villanova(52) were decent on the offensive boards as well.

Here the Top 20 tournament teams in Offensive Rebounding % this season (overall rank in parentheses):

Old Dominion (1)
Pitt (2)
Morehead State (3)
Kansas State (4)
West Virginia (6)
UConn (7)
Long Island (8)
Florida (9)
Cincinnati (10)
Tennessee (12)
Texas A&M (13)
Belmont (14)
Washington (16)
San Diego State (18)
Texas (23)
Syracuse (26)
Alabama State (29)
North Carolina (30)
Kansas (32)
Georgia (35)

Also, here are some higher seeded teams that are some of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the tournament: BYU (202), Purdue (179), Temple (156), Vanderbilt (151), Xavier (147), Arizona (144), Georgetown (138), & Notre Dame (132)

Here are the Defensive Effective FG% ranks of the Final 4 teams from the last 8 seasons, with the champion in italics:

2010: Duke(12), West Virginia(118), Michigan State(73), Butler(68)
2009: North Carolina(62), UConn(2), Michigan State(85), Villanova(89)
2008: Kansas(9), Memphis(6), UCLA(37), North Carolina(90)
2007: Florida(18), Ohio St(42), Georgetown(10), and UCLA(76)
2006: Florida(16), UCLA(37), LSU(32), George Mason(10)
2005: North Carolina(36), Illinois(63), Louisville(12), Michigan St(136)
2004: UConn(1), Duke(13), Oklahoma St(37), Georgia Tech(5)
2003: Syracuse(10), Kansas(38), Texas(47), Marquette(55)

Analysis: Much like Offensive Effective FG%, this stat is all over the place. However, 30 of the past 32 Final 4 teams were in the Top 100 in this stat. So I would say you could eliminate most teams outside the Top 100. Only West Virginia & Michigan State have the made the Final 4 with a Defensive Effective FG% ranking above 100.

Ohio State actually ranks 132nd in Defenseive Effective FG%, which is bad news according to the historical data. No champion has ranked worse than 62nd in this stat over the past 8 years. Will be interesting to see if they can break that trend this year.

2011 NCAA Tournament Analysis (Efficiency Ratings)

Top 10 tournament teams in Offensive Efficiency:

1 Ohio St. 124.6
2 Wisconsin 123.6
3 Notre Dame 123.0
4 Kansas 121.2
5 Duke 119.8
6 Pitt 119.6
7 Kentucky 118.8
8 BYU 118.2
9 Washington 117.5
10 Oakland 115.9

Other Notables(Overall Rank, Offensive Efficiency): Arizona (14, 115.8), Florida (15, 115.5), Syracuse (17, 115.3), Purdue (18, 115.3), Texas (19, 115.1), UConn (21, 115.1), San Diego State (24, 114.2), Louisville (36, 112.0), North Carolina (37, 111.8)

Top 10 tournament teams in Defensive Efficiency

1 Texas 86.5
2 Florida St. 86.9
3 Duke 87.1
4 San Diego St. 87.2
5 Louisville 87.6
6 Utah State 88.1
7 North Carolina 88.3
8 Purdue 88.4
9 Clemson 88.7
10 Ohio St. 88.8

Other Notables(Overall Rank, Defensive Efficiency): Kansas (12, 89.3) Syracuse (16, 90.0), Pitt (21, 90.9), Kentucky (22, 91.0), UConn (31, 92.2), BYU (37, 93.0), Florida (40, 93.2), Notre Dame (62, 95.6), Wisconsin (63, 95.6), Arizona (67, 95.9)

Finally, the Top 20 teams Overall Efficiency:

1 Ohio St. 0.980
2 Duke 0.975
3 Kansas 0.971
4 Texas 0.964
5 Pittsburgh 0.959
6 San Diego State 0.957
7 Kentucky 0.955
8 Purdue 0.955
9 Wisconsin 0.950
10 Notre Dame 0.948
11 Syracuse 0.946
12 Louisville 0.944
13 BYU 0.940
14 North Carolina .938
15 Washington 0.932
16 Utah State 0.928
17 UConn 0.927
18 Belmont 0.924
19 Florida 0.922
20 Illinois 0.917

Other Notables(Overall Rank, Overall Efficiency): West Virginia (21, 0.913), Arizona (25, 0.897)

Final Analysis:

By the trends, Final 4 teams in 2011 will most likely look like this: Overall Efficiency in Top 30, Offensive Efficiency in Top 50, Defensive Efficiency in Top 30.

Teams that fit all 3 trends: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, Texas, Pitt, San Diego State, Kentucky, Purdue, Syracuse, Louisville, North Carolina, UConn, Belmont, Illinois, West Virginia, Gonzaga

These are your best bets for Final 4 teams.

By the trends, the National Champion will most likely look like this: Offensive Efficiency in Top 5, Defensive Efficiency in Top 35, Off. Effective FG% in Top 50, Def. Effective FG% in Top 100

Teams that fit all 4 trends: Kansas & Duke

Teams that fit 3 of the 4 trends: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Kentucky, Louisville, Utah State, Syracuse, Belmont, Illinois, Gonzaga

Teams that fit 2 of the 4 trends: Wisconsin, Texas, Florida State, San Diego State, North Carolina, Purdue, Clemson, UNLV, Cincinnati, Kansas State, West Virginia, USC, UConn, UCLA

Note: Kansas & Duke hit all 4 trends of a National Champion. Ohio State only hits 3 because of their defensive effective FG% rating being rather low. I would throw out Utah State, Belmont, Illinois, & Gonzaga as possible champs, but the rest of the teams that hit on 3 trends all have a possibility to cut down the nets. The teams who hit on 2 trends, I would ignore for National Championship purposes. Final 4 is probably as far as they will go.

From this whole analysis, I would say the safest bets to win it all would be Ohio State, Kansas, & Duke. I feel pretty confident one of those three will win.

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