Pella Chronicle

Z_CNHI News Service

March 18, 2014

Statistics the best guide to filling in your NCAA bracket

The NCAA Tournament is a great event because fans get heavily involved in trying to pick the winners. They invest time and money in trying to make sense of 67 games.

Nobody gets them all right – Warren Buffet didn’t make his billions by placing sucker bets – but selecting the survivor of three weeks of play can be done.

There is no guaranteed way of picking winners. Some like going with the coolest mascot or neatest uniforms. Analyzing records and statistics may be a better option.

Here’s a valuable nugget: Nine of the past 11 champions entered the field as a No. 1 seed. That means this year’s beauty pageant comes down to Virginia, Florida, Wichita State and Arizona.

Another way to predict the eventual champion is looking at one phase of the game: Nine of the past 11 national champions ranked among the top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to college basketball statistics guru Ken Pomeroy. That’s an assessment of how many points a team scores, on average, per possession. Among the top seeds, Wichita State comes in 8th and Florida 16th. Creighton, a third seed, is tops in the country.

As one would expect, tough defense is another key. Using the same adjusted factor for limiting the opposition’s ability to score, Pomeroy finds Arizona at 1st, Virginia at 3rd, Florida 5th, Louisville 6th and Wichita State at 10th.

Winning the championship means rolling off six victories over three weeks, generally against good-to-tough competition. This requires a balance of depth and star talent.

Strength of schedule offers a glimpse of how well teams are prepared. None of the top seeds could be accused of burdening itself with an unbearable schedule. Arizona’s ranked 13th toughest, according to Pomeroy, with Wichita State’s coming in at 128th. Of the teams voted into the tournament, Kansas’ schedule was the toughest. Wisconsin's was 3rd and Michigan's was 5th.

It’s imperative to have a star player when time is running out and points are in high demand. Creighton’s Doug McDermott gives the No. 3 seed the top offensive player in the country. Duke’s Jabari Parker is only a freshman who is likely making his first and only NCAA tournament appearance.

Russ Smith, a senior, is back leading Louisville to a possible repeat championship. Cincinnati plays games close but Sean Kilpatrick has scored more than 2,000 career points, and Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier leads the Huskies in points, rebounds and assists.

Others certainly to excel are Arizona’s Nick Johnson, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet, Michigan’s Nick Stauskas and New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow, to name a few.

A team’s health is an uncontrollable factor. In 2000, Cincinnati looked like a possible champ until consensus player-of-the-year Kenyon Martin went down with a broken leg in the opening minutes of the conference tournament, and the nation’s No. 1 ranked team saw its dreams die.

It was the same thing in 1975 when Indiana entered the tournament unbeaten but Scott May, who had suffered a broken arm just weeks earlier, was ineffective and the Hoosiers got bounced by Kentucky.

Kansas, which comes into the tournament with a 24-9 record and a No. 2 seed in the South Region, might feel more secure if the Jayhawks were certain that 7-foot center Joel Embiid would play. A back injury is likely to sideline him during the first weekend of the tournament. Taking out a player who shoots 62 percent and grabs more than 8 rebounds a game is a huge disadvantage.

Coaching is a major plus, and that’s where Florida enhances the chances of another Gator championship. Billy Donovan has won two national championships and coached Florida to an unbeaten record in the Southeastern Conference this year.

Of the three other top-seeded teams, Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Arizona’s Sean Miller and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall have racked up a combined 18 tournament appearances. Only Marshall has coached a team to the Final Four, though.

Add these factors together and Florida looks to be the best pick. Now it’s time for the fun part – watch the games and find out.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Sideshows involving Rice and Dungy stain NFL's image

    Pro football training camps should be all about, well, football. But the talk around the NFL is about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's two-game suspension, Tony Dungy's indelicate remarks about Michael Sam and Jim Irsay's largesse. What kind of league is Roger Goodell running?

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Features
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Obituaries