Finding elite CBB contenders

December 21, 2021 07:37 PM

At this time last year, it was fairly obvious that Gonzaga and Baylor were head and shoulders above the rest of the field in college basketball. I wrote on several occasions how I thought those teams looked unbeatable, and I wasn’t alone. Of course, the Zags and the Bears were the last two standing in the NCAA tournament, with Baylor winning its first title.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but when I compared their stats and other shared characteristics with other recent champions, the Zags and Bears checked almost every box. No other team was close.

With that in mind, let’s look at those championship characteristics at this point in the 2021-22 season and see if we can find the true title contenders. My natural inclination is that we won’t find anything resembling last year in terms of obvious favorites. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t find some value for national championship futures.

This exercise will seek to find the shared statistical characteristics from this season’s pool with the last nine NCAA champions (2012-21), using the six most impactful strength indicators. Here they are:

— Steve Makinen’s Power Rating

— Makinen’s Effective Strength Indicator

— Makinen’s Bettors’ Rating

— Makinen’s Momentum Rating

— Effective Offensive Points per Possession

— Effective Defensive Points per Possession

I look at 10 other areas before the tournament each March, but most of the qualifiers only require a team to be in the top 50 or so. The list above is clearly more exclusive. Let’s go to the numbers:


The trend: Eight of the last nine champions entered the tournament with a Power Rating of 89 or higher.

2021-22: As of Monday, eight teams had a Power Rating of 89 or higher:

Gonzaga: 93

Purdue: 92

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