Who To Pick In This Year’s March Madness? It’s Not Just About Defense

Not enough O...

Not enough O…

The brackets are out. You’ve signed up for all of the pools with your friends. The only thing left? Make your picks. Regardless of whether you’re trying to win one billion dollars or one hundred dollars, we’ve got some stats that should help you determine which teams have the best chance at cutting down the nets in early April.

The common saying is that “defense wins championships”. While that’s certainly a prerequisite, you actually need a very efficient offense too.

For the past 11 years, college basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy has been compiling data and churning out formulas that show how efficient teams are on both sides of the ball, per 100 possessions against an average opponent. Every year, the eventual national champion has been ranked in the top 25 in both adjusted defensive efficiency and adjusted offensive efficiency. Surprised? Don’t be. Teams capable of winning six straight games against elite competition simply need to be able to score the basketball.

Per kenpom.com:

Year National Champion Adjusted O Adjusted D
2003 Syracuse 14 13
2004 Connecticut 9 5
2005 North Carolina 2 12
2006 Florida 3 6
2007 Florida 1 17
2008 Kansas 2 1
2009 North Carolina 1 21
2010 Duke 1 8
2011 Connecticut 18 13
2012 Kentucky 2 8
2013 Louisville 4 3

But enough about the past, you just want to know what that means for the future, right?

For the 2013-2014 season, the teams in the top 25 of adjusted defensive efficiency that reached the NCAA Tournament are:

1. Arizona
2. VCU
3. Virginia
4. Ohio State
5. Florida
6. Louisville
7. San Diego State
8. Saint Louis
9. Cincinnati
10. Wichita State
11. Connecticut
13. Gonzaga
14. Villanova
16. Tennessee
18. Syracuse
22. North Carolina
25. Kansas State

Which of these teams are also in the top 25 in adjusted offensive efficiency?

8. Wichita State
10. Louisville
16. Villanova
17. Florida
25. Virginia

If you follow this method, you have two major decisions to make. The East Regional contains both No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 2 seed Villanova. The Midwest Region contains both No. 1 seed Wichita State and No. 4 seed Louisville. Florida, for reference, is in the South Region.

It’s a safe bet that your national champion will come from that group of five above. But hey, you can make your own decisions.


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Matt is a Co-Founder at College Spun. He can be reached at [email protected]