NCAA Tournament: The Power Conference Teams

Selection Sunday is over. The bubble has burst for some, while others are dancing. Sure Dick Vitale and the rest of the talking heads on ESPN will talk about who was left out, but the pageantry of the NCAA Tournament begins in earnest on Thursday morning when the First Round of the NCAA Tournament kicks off. In Brumby's first tournament preview, he looks at the power conference teams, plus Gonzaga, to see who is ready to March to the Arch, and who will be heading home pre-maturely.

What is a college basketball geek to do on Selection Sunday? Sit in front of his computer and scour the Internet for the tiniest statistical morsel on the teams in the NCAA Tournament while watching the Bracketology Show on ESPN. There is no better hour of non-action in the sporting world landscape than the hour in which the NCAA Tournament Brackets are announced live on CBS.

I don't want to rehash what has been said about every team and seed on the various channels and Internet articles already, so I will not go over the brackets. What I want to do is actually look at the teams, and see what type of numbers they put up on the court throughout the season. Using the same efficiency numbers that I have been using to analyze the Illini all season, I will use them to look at the power conference teams in the NCAA Tournament plus Gonzaga.

Team Name Pace Defensive
Illinois 64.97 92.31 118.56 26.25
70.05 89.99 116.11 26.12
North Carolina 76.53 91.13 116.46 25.33
Florida 66.55 93.11 115.03 21.92
Michigan State 66.35 95.36 116.79 21.42
Duke 70.22 92.94 113.59 20.65
Oklahoma State 67.25 96.34 116.31 19.98
Villanova 65.33 94.87 113.17 18.29
Alabama 64.95 97.72 115.97 18.24
Kentucky 67.37 91.27 109.26 17.99
Washington 73.23 99.59 116.69 17.1
Cincinnati 68.5 93.44 110.48 17.04
Wake Forest 71.66 101.22 118.19 16.97
Connecticut 70.84 93.31 110.19 16.88
66.66 97.45 112.68 15.23
Gonzaga 68.03 102.29 117.48 15.19
Pittsburgh 63.87 97.63 112.37 14.74
Mississippi State 67.27 95.99 110.1 14.1
Kansas 67.09 96.1 109.97 13.87
Texas 68.55 98.95 112.82 13.87
Arizona 70.54 98.02 111.88 13.85
Charlotte 71.11 97.58 110.53 12.95
Wisconsin 63.22 94.19 106.42 12.23
Boston College 64.63 97.53 109.74 12.21
Texas Tech* 70.2 98.4 110.42 12.03
North Carolina State 65.57 101.21 112.65 11.45
Georgia Tech 70.46 93.57 104.66 11.08
Oklahoma 64.1 101.87 112.84 10.98
Alabama-Birmingham 72.42 97.07 107.6 10.52
Minnesota 66.84
93.21 102.99 9.78
Iowa 68.46 98.28 106.56 8.28
West Virginia 64.17 101.68 109.75 8.06
Iowa State 67.05 93.79 101.37 7.57
Louisiana State 66.41 104.77 111.19 6.42
UCLA 69.97 100.63 104.47 3.84
Stanford 68.3 99.14 102.27 3.13

The note on Texas Tech is that the Official Texas Tech web site did not update their statistics for the Big XII Tournament by the time I wrote this, so they do not have the statistics included from their run to the Big XII Tournament Championship game.

Looking through this table of the power conferences, there are a few things that I noticed right away about a few teams.
  • Louisville - Doug Buffone will not be happy, nor should he be about the Louisville Cardinals' fourth seed in the Albuquerque Region, but it could be a blessing in disguise for the Rick Pitino lead Cardinals. According to the differentials between their offensive and defensive abilities, Louisville is the second most efficient team in the country behind the Fighting Illini.

    When you put them in a regional with Washington (the weakest number one seed), Wake Forest, and Gonzaga, they have a good shot at the Final Four if they are able to get past Georgia Tech in the second round. The numbers for Georgia Tech are lower than I think they should be because of the injury sustained by BJ Elder that kept him out of action for what essentially amounted to ten games.

    Look for a high flying and fun bracket (bet the over if you are in Vegas), but look for Louisville's defense and press to be enough to get them past Georgia Tech, Washington, and Wake Forest and get to St. Louis.
  • Florida - The Florida Gators are coming into the NCAA Tournament red hot after winning the SEC Tournament Championship, and have shown that they do not mind playing defense this season thanks to the hiring of Larry Shyatt on Billy Donovan's staff, but they will have a tough time getting to the Sweet 16 thanks to a probable game against Villanova in their path.
  • Arizona - Lute Olson's Wildcats don't have the efficiency differential of the top teams like Illinois, North Carolina, and Duke, but there is something to the Wildcats this season that should not be ignored, they are playing defense. Opponents are scoring less than one point per possession against the Wildcats, and thanks to their athleticism at every position and the sharp shooting of Salim Stoudamire, they could very easily find themselves playing Illinois in the Regional Final in Chicago.
  • Oklahoma - The Sooners were the number one seed in the Big XII Tournament thanks to both Kansas and Oklahoma State imploding during the final weeks of the season, but they are ripe for an upset as Texas Tech showed in the Big XII Conference Tournament. The Sooners are not the same defensive team that most people remember from their days with Eduardo Najera, as they are allowing their opposition to score more than one point per possession, and in the NCAA Tournament that normally means upset.

    So who is along the Sooners path that could upset them? Utah and my NCAA Player of the Year Andrew Bogut.
  • Gonzaga - Another team that is ripe for an upset is Gonzaga. The Zags also have struggled defensively all season and they are allowing their opponents to score over one point per possession. When you are going against a Bobby Knight coached team, not being a stellar defensive team is not a good thing. The Red Raiders have the talent and the coaching to pull off the upset in the Second Round over Gonzaga.
  • Pittsburgh - If Pitt can get past Pacific, they have a very good chance to upset the Washington Huskies. The Panthers play a slow-it-down game versus the fast-paced action of the Huskies. It will be a clash in styles, and the team that can control the tempo should win the game.
  • Mississippi State - If the Bulldogs can get past Stanford, they could put up a fight against Duke, but that fight will probably be to no avail.

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