Monday, February 12, 2018

Mid-February Numerology

Forget the committee’s mock from yesterday. Let’s see where we sit in mid-February by some numbers.

The Contenders
3 teams have top 20 offense and defenses. They are Purdue (3rd o, 13th d), Michigan State (10th o, 9th d) & Gonzaga (9th o, 19th d).

Gonzaga might be the surprise but given their continued consistency through the years it shouldn’t be. Their schedule is certainly conducive to achieving these kind of numbers. Outside St. Mary’s, the WCC just isn’t very good. At the same time, I think we can say something similar about Michigan State and Purdue benefitting from a down Big 14.

Still, all 3 teams would be good bets come March. Echoing what Brian said yesterday, this is a crazy year. Tread carefully.

The Offenses
Villanova and Duke have crazy good offenses coupled with so-so defenses. Villanova has KenPom era’s most efficient offense. It’s slightly better than Wisconsin of 2015. Duke isn’t far behind and overall, you’d call it one of the beat offenses of the past decade. Both are saddled with the 48th and 79th best defenses. Nova is playing in a hyper-offensive minded league. 6 of the top 32 offensive teams are in the Big East. Duke is a bit more concerning given their recent history. Between the two, Duke is clearly more talented but Nova is probably more likely to overcome a bad offensive night.

3 other top ten offenses catch my attention. St. Mary’s is 4th but have the 110th most efficient defense. They’re also one of the slowest teams in the nation. Someone is going to shoot them out of the gym in March. They’re fool’s gold. TCU is 5th but 130th in defense. There’s a lot of reasons to doubt the Horned Frogs (Still, they’re a program on the rise). Xavier is 7th but 58th in defense. I don’t think they’ll end up a 1-seed by time we get to selection Sunday but they’d be a very shaky 1-seed. My guess is, they’ll be a shaky 2-seed.

The Defenses
Virginia is the most efficient defensive team in the nation and while the national media gushes over their alleged explosiveness this year, the truth is, they’re 45th in offensive efficiency. That’s not terrible but if they have to outscore someone, I wouldn’t count on it. 

Cincinnati and Texas Tech are 2nd and 3rd respectively. Both have a chance at Sweet 16 runs. Cincinnati may steal a 1-seed if they run the table. Like Virginia, both are slow teams with offensives ranking 51st and 61st respectively. Both will be sucestiple to teams that shoot well/have a hot night.

If we’re looking for a South Carolina this year, keep an eye on Alabama. Bama is 10th in defensive efficiency but 100th in offensive efficiency. South Carolina finished 3rd in defensive efficiency and 91st in offensive efficiency last year. That, of course, was a historical outlier.

Interestingly, New Mexico State (22-3) is 7th in defensive efficiency. Keep an eye on their matchup should they make the dance. A weak offensive team could be ripe for the Aggies to upset.

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