Shared stat traits of tournament teams

USATSI_12500559

(To view the charts associated with this report, subscribe to VSiN.com)

Every Selection Sunday, the NCAA committee grants 68 teams a chance to play for Division 1 college basketball’s national championship. For many teams, it’s enough of an honor to earn a bid, and a victory or two in the tournament is beyond comprehension. For others, the goal is a title. In the end, four teams will set themselves apart by reaching the semifinals, this year in Indianapolis. Only one will cut down the nets at the Lucas Oil Stadium. Who will compose the Final Four? Which team has what it takes to be the champion? Which underdogs have a chance to be Cinderellas? Should any top seeds be on upset alert? 

Let’s try to answer these questions by analyzing the shared statistical characteristics of upset victims, Cinderellas, Final Four teams and champions dating to 2012, or the last eight tournament seasons. I have picked out 12 key statistical categories and four of my personal strength indicators, plus a combined average ranking, and charted the recent qualifying teams by their performances in these categories. Here they are:

— Steve Makinen’s power rating

— Opponent power rating (schedule strength)

— Offensive points per game

— Defensive points per game

— Steve Makinen’s effective strength indicator

— Steve Makinen’s bettors’ rating

— Steve Makinen’s last 10 momentum ratings

— Effective offensive points per possession

— Effective defensive points per possession

— Offensive field-goal percentage

— Offensive 3-point field-goal percentage

— Rebounding percentage

— Assist-to-turnover ratio

— Offensive turnovers per possession

— Defensive turnovers per possession

— Defensive field-goal percentage

— Combined average ranking

After determining the national season ranks for all Division 1 teams, I pulled all the upset victims, Cinderellas, Final Four teams and champions from the eight years for special analysis. For each stat category, I look for minimum performance, typical national ranking and the percentile of teams that qualify within certain ranges. As a final exclamation point, I take a combined national ranking of the sortable categories to separate the more complete teams from the rest.

To summarize the findings, it was determined that my effective strength indicator was the most significant of all the categories analyzed. The average of the last 32 Final Four teams ranked 11.9 in the country in that rating. Among the harder-core statistical categories, effective defensive points per possession was most important. The least important factor was defensive turnovers per possession, or the ability to create turnovers.

For those who love to reminisce about previous tournaments and great teams of recent years, the 2014 Louisville team was actually the top team of the last eight years when all the rankings were combined. However, that team lost in the Sweet 16 to eventual runner-up Kentucky. The best team that wound up a champion in that stretch was the 2017 North Carolina squad.

Shared Traits of Upset-Victim Teams

The following is a list of traits shared by teams that would be considered upset victims, or those that were seeded No. 6 or better yet lost their first-round games. In general, I used an 80th-percentile cutoff to eliminate some of the more fluky teams from recent years. These stats include only those obtained as of Selection Sunday and contain no games beyond that point, so they should accurately reflect those you’ll be using when picking this year’s bracket. These were the upset victims considered:

2012

No. 2: Duke, Missouri

No. 4: Michigan

No. 5: Wichita State, Temple

No. 6: UNLV, San Diego State

2013

No. 2: Georgetown

No. 3: New Mexico

No. 4: Kansas State

No. 5: Oklahoma State, UNLV, Wisconsin

No. 6: UCLA

2014

No. 3: Duke

No. 5: Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Virginia Commonwealth

No. 6: Ohio State, Massachusetts

2015

No. 3: Iowa State, Baylor

No. 6: SMU, Providence

2016

No. 2: Michigan State

No. 3: West Virginia

No. 4: California

No. 5: Baylor, Purdue

No. 6: Seton Hall, Arizona, Texas

2017

No. 5: Minnesota

No. 6: Maryland, SMU, Creighton

2018

No. 1: Virginia

No. 4: Wichita State

No. 5: Arizona

No. 6: Miami, TCU

2019

No. 4: Kansas State

No. 5: Marquette, Mississippi State, Wisconsin

No. 6: Iowa State

Of the last 46 upset victims seeded No. 6 or better, about 80% of them:

— Entered the tournament with a Steve Makinen power rating of 86.5 or lower.

— Finished the regular season with a schedule strength ranked outside the top 15 nationally.

— Ranked outside the top 25 in offensive points per game.

— Ranked outside the top 15 in defensive points per game.

— Had a Steve Makinen effective strength indicator rating of + 16.5 or less and/or ranked outside the top 15 nationally.

— Had a Steve Makinen bettors’ rating of at most -14.5 and/or ranked outside the top 13 nationally.

— Had a Steve Makinen last 10 rating outside the top 25 nationally.

— Scored fewer than 1.230 effective points per possession on offense and ranked outside the top 11 nationally.

— Allowed more than 0.910 effective points per possession on defense and ranked outside the top eight nationally.

— Shot less than 48% from the field for the season, ranking outside the top 15 nationally in field-goal percentage.

— Made less than 39% of their 3-point attempts for the season, placing outside the top 30 of all teams.

— Had a rebounding percentage rate of less than 55% and ranked outside the top 12 in the country.

— Had an assist-to-turnover ratio of less than 1.45, ranking outside the top 12 nationally.

— Ranked outside the country’s 25 top teams in offensive turnovers per possession, about 15.5%.

— Ranked outside the country’s 70 top teams in defensive turnovers per possession, about  20.5%.

— Allowed opponents higher than 39.3% on field-goal attempts, a mark typically good enough for the top 15 in the country.

— Had a combined average ranking of 57.0 or worse in all analyzed stats.

Using the logic of qualifying all 24 teams seeded No. 6 or better this year under our criteria, here is a chart showing the number of times each team qualified for the 16 categories. Based on our belief that the upset victims share characteristics, the teams at the top of the list are most at risk of being upset in their first-round games.

Note that in the last tournament, 2019, the five upset victims were among the top 14 listed teams on this chart, including the top two, Marquette and Mississippi State.

Shared Traits of Cinderella Teams

The following is a list of the traits shared by teams that could be considered Cinderella teams, or those seeded No. 7 or worse that won at least two games to reach the Sweet 16. In general, I used an 80th-percentile cutoff to eliminate some of the more fluky teams from recent years. These stats include only those obtained as of Selection Sunday and contain no games beyond that point, so they should accurately reflect those you’ll be using when picking this year’s bracket. These were the Cinderella teams considered:

2012 Florida (No. 7)

2012 Xavier (No. 10)

2012 NC State (No. 11)

2012 Ohio U. (No. 13)

2013 Oregon (No. 12)

2013 La Salle (No. 13)

2013 Florida Gulf Coast (No. 15)

2013 Wichita State (No. 9)

2014 Connecticut (No. 7)

2014 Kentucky (No. 8)

2014 Tennessee (No. 11)

2014 Dayton (No. 11)

2014 Stanford (No. 10)

2015 Michigan State (No. 7)

2015 Wichita State (No. 7)

2015 NC State (No. 8)

2015 UCLA (No. 11)

2016 Gonzaga (No. 11)

2016 Syracuse (No. 10)

2017 South Carolina (No. 7)

2017 Michigan (No. 7)

2017 Wisconsin (No. 8)

2017 Xavier (No. 11)

2018 Florida State (No. 9)

2018 Kansas State (No. 9)

2018 Loyola (Chicago) (No. 11)

2018 Nevada (No. 7)

2018 Syracuse (No. 11)

2018 Texas A&M (No. 7)

2019 Oregon (No. 12)

Of the last 30 Cinderella teams seeded No. 7 or worse, about 80% of them:

— Entered the tournament with a Steve Makinen power rating of 87 or worse.

— Finished the regular season with a schedule strength ranked outside the top 12 nationally.

— Ranked in the top 150 in offensive points per game, averaging over 70.

— Ranked in the top 170 in defensive points per game, allowing fewer than 68.

— Had a Steve Makinen effective strength indicator rating of at least + 10.0 and ranked in the top 55 nationally.

— Had a Steve Makinen bettors’ rating of at least -7.0 and ranked in the top 50 nationally.

— Had a Steve Makinen last 10 rating in the top 50 nationally.

— Scored at least 1.110 effective points per possession on offense and ranked in the top 90 nationally.

— Allowed better than 1.000 effective points per possession on defense and ranked in the top 75 nationally.

— Shot at least 44% from the field for the season, ranking in the top 125 nationally in field-goal percentage.

— Made at least 33% of their 3-point attempts for the season, placing them in the top 225 of all teams.

— Had a rebounding percentage rate of at least 50% and ranked in the top 160 in the country.

— Had an assist-to-turnover ratio of at least 1.000, ranking in the top 150 nationally.

— Ranked in the country’s 190 top teams in offensive turnovers per possession, about 18.5%.

— Ranked in the country’s 250 top teams in defensive turnovers per possession, about 16.5%.

— Allowed opponents 43.0% or less on field-goal attempts, a mark typically good enough for the top 100 in the country.

— Had a combined average ranking of 105.0 or better in all analyzed stats.

Using the logic of qualifying all 44 teams seeded No. 7 or worse this year under our criteria, here is a chart showing the number of times each team qualified for the 16 categories. Based on our belief that the Cinderella teams share characteristics, the teams at the top of the list are most prepared to make exciting tournament runs.

In 2019, the only eventual Cinderella, Oregon, tied for second on this chart with 15 marks.

Shared Traits of Final Four Teams

The following is a list of the traits shared by teams that reached the Final Four. Again, I used about an 80th-percentile cutoff to eliminate some of the more fluky teams from recent years. These were the last 32 Final Four teams:

2012 Kentucky (No. 1)

2012 Kansas (No. 2)

2012 Louisville (No. 4)

2012 Ohio State (No. 2)

2013 Syracuse (No. 4)

2013 Louisville (No. 1)

2013 Michigan (No. 4)

2013 Wichita State (No. 9)

2014 Wisconsin (No. 2)

2014 Florida (No. 1)

2014 Kentucky (No. 8)

2014 Connecticut (No. 7)

2015 Kentucky (No. 1)

2015 Duke (No. 1)

2015 Wisconsin (No. 1)

2015 Michigan State (No. 7)

2016 Oklahoma (No. 2)

2016 North Carolina (No. 1)

2016 Villanova (No. 2)

2016 Syracuse (No. 10)

2017 North Carolina (No. 1)

2017 Gonzaga (No. 1)

2017 Oregon (No. 3)

2017 South Carolina (No. 7)

2018 Loyola (Chicago) (No. 11)

2018 Kansas (No. 1)

2018 Michigan (No. 3)

2018 Villanova (No. 1)

2019 Virginia (No. 1)

2019 Michigan State (No. 2)

2019 Texas Tech (No. 3)

2019 Auburn (No. 5)

Of the last 32 Final Four teams, about 80% of them:

— Entered the tournament with a Steve Makinen power rating of 86 or higher.

— Finished the regular season with a schedule strength ranked in the top 60 nationally.

— Ranked in the top 150 in offensive points per game, scoring about 71.0.

— Ranked in the top 85 in defensive points per game, allowing about 68.5.

— Had a Steve Makinen effective strength indicator rating of at least + 16.0 and ranked in the top 17 nationally.

— Had a Steve Makinen bettors’ rating of at least -12.5 and ranked in the top 19 nationally.

— Had a Steve Makinen last 10 rating in the top 18 nationally.

— Scored at least 1.160 effective points per possession on offense and ranked in the top 40 nationally.

— Allowed better than 0.965 effective points per possession on defense and ranked in the top 25 nationally.

— Shot at least 44.5% from the field for the season, ranking in the top 110 nationally in field-goal percentage.

— Made at least 33.5% of their 3-point attempts for the season, placing in the top 200 of all teams.

— Had a rebounding percentage rate of at least 51% and ranked in the top 130 in the country.

— Had an assist-to-turnover ratio of at least 1.125, ranking in the top 90 nationally.

— Ranked in the country’s 160 top teams in offensive turnovers per possession.

— Ranked in the country’s 235 top teams in defensive turnovers per possession.

— Allowed opponents 42.0% or less on field-goal attempts, a mark typically good enough for the top 60 in the country.

— Had a combined average ranking of 67.0 or better in all analyzed stats.

Using the logic of qualifying all 68 teams this year under our criteria, here is a chart showing the number of times each team qualified for the 16 categories. Based on our belief that the Final Four teams share characteristics, the teams at the top of the list are most prepared to make deep tournament runs.

The 2019 Final Four group of Virginia, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Auburn each had at least 12 marks on this chart, ranking in the top 17 of the tournament teams in that category.

Shared Traits of Tournament Champions

Recent years of tournament action have shown a big difference between reaching the Final Four and winning the title. Typically, only the truly elite teams accomplish the latter. Here’s a look at the minimum requirements for winning the championship over the last nine seasons. These are the eight champions during that span:

2012 Kentucky (No. 1)

2013 Louisville (No. 1)

2014 Connecticut (No. 7)

2015 Duke (No. 1)

2016 Villanova (No. 2)

2017 North Carolina (No. 1)

2018 Villanova (No. 1)

2019 Virginia (No. 1)

Looking for clear separation in the teams’ stats and ranks among the last eight NCAA champions:

— Seven went into the tournament with a Steve Makinen power rating of 89 or higher.

— Seven finished the regular season with a schedule strength ranked in the top 45 nationally.

— Six ranked in the top 55 in offensive points per game and averaged at least 72.

— Six ranked in the top 115 in defensive points per game or allowed fewer than 70.

— Seven had a Steve Makinen effective strength indicator rating of at least + 18.5 and ranked in the top six nationally.

— Seven had a Steve Makinen bettors’ rating of at least -15.5 and ranked in the top five nationally.

— Seven had a Steve Makinen last 10 rating in the top eight nationally.

— Seven scored at least 1.185 effective points per possession on offense and ranked in the top 18 nationally.

— Seven allowed better than 0.955 effective points per possession on defense and ranked in the top 15 nationally.

— Six shot at least 46% from the field for the season, ranking in the top 45 nationally in field-goal percentage.

— Six made at least 34.5% of their 3-point attempts for the season, placing in the top 100 of all teams.

— Six had a rebounding percentage rate of at least 52% and ranked in the top 65 in the country.

— Seven had an assist-to-turnover ratio of at least 1.170, ranking in the top 45 nationally.

— Six ranked in the country’s 60 top teams in offensive turnovers per possession.

— Six ranked in the country’s 190 top teams in defensive turnovers per possession.

— Six allowed opponents 42.0% or less on field-goal attempts, a mark typically good enough for the top 60 in the country.

— Seven had a combined average ranking of 50.0 or better in all analyzed stats.

Looking at each of these key categories and every team’s standing as of Monday, here is a chart showing the teams most ready for a title run in 2021, with 19 teams scoring eight marks or better:

Virginia, the 2019 champion and a popular pick of many experts — including yours truly — ranked second of the 68 tournament teams with 15 qualifying marks on this chart.

Naturally, every rule has exceptions, but it’s a fairly safe bet that the eventual upset victims, Cinderellas, Final Four teams and champion will be found among the tops of these lists.

back to news

 

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

VSiN PrimeTime: Be aware of injuries on the offensive line, skill positions get the most publicity, but if an elite tackle is out it could have a huge impact on the game. View more tips.

A Numbers Game: If you’re just getting into soccer betting, make sure you know exactly what you’re betting. i.e. Double chance, to win, to advance, etc. View more tips.
 
Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

​Michael Lombardi: Seahawks -7. View more picks.

 

Subscriber Only News  Vsin Exclusive

View All

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Betting Splits: Percentage of handle & tickets from DraftKings for every game on the board, updated every 10 minutes. GO HERE.

NFL Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

CFB Power Ratings3 sets of numbers from Steve MakinenGO HERE.

View more CFB tools for Pro subscribers

View more NFL tools for Pro subscribers

Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

VSiN PrimeTime: Be aware of injuries on the offensive line, skill positions get the most publicity, but if an elite tackle is out it could have a huge impact on the game. View more tips.

A Numbers Game: If you’re just getting into soccer betting, make sure you know exactly what you’re betting. i.e. Double chance, to win, to advance, etc. View more tips.
 
Screen_Shot_2022-08-22_at_12.19.15_AM

Chuck Edel: Kansas State +2.5 vs TCU. View more picks.

Kenny White: Fresno State +3 vs Boise St. View more picks.
Close