Team No. 1 entered the NCAA Tournament at 26-9. The following stats (courtesy of www.kenpom.com) are post-NCAA Tournament.
Offensive Efficiency Rating: 115.7
Defensive Efficiency Rating: 90.3
Adjusted Tempo: 65.4
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 48.2 (opponents: 44.5)
Turnover Percentage: 17.1 (17.3)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 38.2 (opponents 33.5)
Free Throw Attempts/Field Goal Attempts: 33.8 (26.8)
Bench Minutes: 29.4 percent
Average Experience: 0.95 years
Effective Height: +3.4"
Now let's take a look at the same stats for Team No. 2. That team entered the NCAA Tournament with a record of 27-7.
Offensive Efficiency: 114.6
Defensive Efficiency: 87.6
Adjusted Tempo: 66.9
eFG%: 50.2 (opponents: 42.5)
TO%: 17.2 (18.7)
O-Reb.%: 37.1 (29.8)
FTA/FGA: 43.1 (30.7)
Bench Minutes: 26.6 percent
Average Experience: 1.47 years
Effective Height: +1.0"
It wouldn't surprise you, after looking at the numbers, to see that KenPom ranked Team No. 2 as a better team than Team No. 1. Team No. 2 has a bigger gap in overall efficiency, and shoots better while holding opponents to a poorer shooting percentage than Team No. 1. Team No. 2 turns the ball over slightly more, but forces quite a bit more turnovers. Team No. 2 is also more experienced, and gets to the free throw line at a better rate.
That's not to say that Team No. 1 doesn't have its plusses. Team No. 1 is slightly more efficient on the offensive end, plays more bench minutes (which can indicate a deeper bench), is significantly taller and is a better offensive rebounding team. Team No. 1 also keeps opponents off the free throw line at a better rate.
The two teams are pretty similar in a number of areas, and both have six players who play at least 40 percent of their minutes. And on both teams, those six players each have an offensive rating of 104 or more.
Overall, the two teams are pretty close, so it wouldn't come as a surprise that they played to a one-point game in an overtime contest this year.
By now, you might have guessed who the two teams are. The first team is the 2010-2011 NCAA Champion Connecticut Huskies. The second? Well, that's a team that was knocked out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, your own Texas Longhorns.
The purpose of this exercise is to show just how close the Longhorns were this year to being an elite team. And it's worth noting that each team had its tournament destiny decided by a game against Arizona. Texas lost by a point following a pair of controversial calls, first on an inbounds play and later on a foul non-call on a last-ditch J'Covan Brown drive. Connecticut meanwhile, claimed a two-point victory to go to the Final Four.
All that goes to show just how tight the NCAA Tournament can be. One field goal separated what was statistically a better team ¬— the Longhorns — from the eventual NCAA champions. Basketball, as you can say about any sport, is a game of inches. The inches went right for the Huskies, and they added to their trophy case. The inches went wrong for Texas, and the Longhorns suffered what was ultimately a disappointing end.