This historic trend shows why these college basketball teams are a good bet to win a national championship
The NCAA Tournament is always fun. We fill in the brackets and some (most) of us bet on the games. We know how it goes: 68 teams enter, one team leaves.
We’ll have a lot of content on the games that make up the pack, but I’ll focus on how to predict the champion before the tournament by looking at some key metrics that have taken precedence over the past two decades. .
If you’ve ever read my college basketball work, you know I’m referencing KenPom in almost every article. Ken Pomeroy has generated a way to use incredibly predictive metrics to get the end result of the game and the true difference between the 358 college basketball teams. It’s incredibly insightful and has revolutionized the way we look at the game. You can read more about him if you want and I suggest using his site to disable that, but gassed enough KenPom, let’s use his tools to create a champion .
I’m going to focus on two of the many metrics available, Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, to help narrow down our champion’s field.
Since 2002, all but two teams have finished in the top 20 on both sides of the ball. Those two teams are the 2014 Connecticut Huskies, led by Shabazz Napier, and the 2021 Baylor Bears.
The Bears were clearly the No. 2 team in the nation, but the team had a three-week COVID break in February that maintained their defensive rating, in which they finished 22nd, so maybe it was kind of of outlier value. It’s been a weird year and I’m willing to let it slide, especially since the team just missed cutting our fixed barriers, “The Almost Famous” band.
So, from Wednesday February 23, who fits the profile of a national champion? Here are the full metrics and odds for the National Championship of WynnBET Sports betting.
Again, this is a moving target as there are new data points every game, but with every team heading down the stretch in the regular season, that’s where we’re at. are.
Gonzaga, Arizona, Auburn have received a ton of attention and are rightly in the upper echelon of national championship contenders. Teams are two-way monsters that have NBA talent littered across the roster, they can withstand all sorts of trouble throughout March due to their balance on both sides of the ball.
That being said, Gonzaga is leapfrogging the rest, now entering a level where only the 2015 and last year Kentucky Bulldogs are from an efficiency standpoint.
Baylor has been beaten most Big 12 games and fell short against Big 12 powerhouses like Kansas and Texas Tech (more on them in a bit), but if they can get healthy, they can make a another run, they project as a solid two-way club with some leftovers from last year’s national championship squad.
UCLA is a team I started the season on, projecting them closer to the 10th best team than the second, which many pundits put them on after a (fluky) run to the Final Four as the 11th seed series. However, the team is quietly emerging as a balanced roster with guard Tyger Campbell leading the offense with sniper Johnny Juzang on the wing.
This will be a theme of the article, but to me there are few things more important in the NCAA Tournament than being flexible and able to win on either side of the court. These are random games that have a ton of variance, it’s best to be equally capable on both sides to ensure you can handle a game off one side.
Again, those numbers will change, but these are teams that are in the top 50 on both sides of the ball. With each passing game, teams can improve their ranking, but they still profile like the teams above: well balanced.
At the moment, Kentucky, which is currently struggling with injuries, is escaping the top-20 threshold. You can read more about them here, but I’ll look at other candidates, I think Coach Cal’s team is closer to the first subset than this.
Kansas and Villanova are just outside the threshold due to their defensive shortcomings, but both teams look like national championship contenders. These numbers are moving targets, but as more and more eyeballs fixate on these top teams, keep an eye on the state of their defense and if they are in good shape.
Illinois and UConn are another pair of teams that may be lower in the range that are shaping up as clubs that can push inside to the next level. Both teams are in the top 30 on either side of the ball and should be grouped together in the middle of a fairly wide field for the most part. These two will likely be fashionable “No 1 seed” picks to make the Final Four due to their ability to win matches on either end.
In some extreme cases, Texas Tech has the No. 1 defense in the nation, but the offense sometimes lacks play. Texas and Tennessee also fall into the same category, each in the top 10 in defense but outside of the top 30 in attack. There will be games where their defense can carry them, but in the six-game sample, the team will need to find a solid offense.
* I drafted it on Tuesday and Loyola Chicago met the criteria, but after Tuesday’s games I slipped to 51. I elected to keep it.
These teams span the tournament spectrum, from a No. 1 seed to Cinderella’s most common double-digit prospects.
Let’s start at the top with Purdue. I talked about the Boilermakers’ issues and how that makes them vulnerable at tournament time. There will be instances, like in their opener, where they simply overwhelm the teams and win by 50. But what about the Sweet 16 (if they get there) when they face a seeded 5 like Texas, who are top 10 on defense but are they more than capable on the offensive end of challenging the Purdue defense?
These uneven teams are the ones that can win a game or two, but also run into trouble when the schedule gets tougher and a predictable regression hits them at the worst time. This is why I avoid betting Purdue in the futures market. Sure, their offense can go nuclear, but if the team has a night off, their defense probably won’t hold up with a given season.
When I look for positives on this table, I think the mid-majors are a better team to play to as they are usually under-seeded and can thrive in a unique game format where they are really good at one thing.
Take the defense of San Diego State. If the team gets the right draw as the No. 6 seed, they can be a very small underdog due to their ability to stop the opposing attack.
When you look through the microscope of a sample game, teams that excel at one thing are a pretty good bet to thrive based on their successful season. I will definitely be looking to support the North Texas and Mountain West clubs in Rounds 1 and 2, but they will likely pull out along the way as their flawed side is exposed.
There’s a difference when you look at Purdue, which is considered a top three pick to cut the nets despite being deplorable on one side of the court, and a North Texas team that may be a small underdog against a team in the first round.
I’ll update those numbers, and it’ll be nice to have previous entries to see who’s moving up and down and potentially entering new levels, but that’s our starting point ahead of Sunday’s selection when researching of value in the NCAA tournament market outright.
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