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METRICS SYSTEM

March 06, 2013
March 06, 2013

Table of Contents
March 6, 2013

LEADING OFF
PICKING A WINNER
  • PREDICTING NCAA TOURNAMENT GAMES IS A TIMELESS TRADITION WITH MANY INTERPRETATIONS—BUT A FEW RULES ARE SET IN STONE

  • In a tournament in which the champion must win six (or seven) single-elimination games, there's plenty of room for randomness. These three advanced statistics can provide a framework for picking a smarter bracket

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THE TOURNAMENT IN PHOTOS

METRICS SYSTEM

In a tournament in which the champion must win six (or seven) single-elimination games, there's plenty of room for randomness. These three advanced statistics can provide a framework for picking a smarter bracket

1 Adjusted efficiency—how many points a team scores or yields per possession, adjusted for schedule strength—is a much better indicator of title worthiness than any traditional stat such as field goal percentage or points per game. According to kenpom.com, the average adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings (among all D-I schools) for Elite Eight teams in the past decade were 15.8 and 19.1, respectively, and the average rankings for teams that reached the title game were 12.8 and 9.9. Only a handful of schools will rank that high in both metrics.

This is an article from the March 6, 2013 issue

2 Mediocre defense is a red flag. Only five Final Four teams from the past decade have ranked outside the top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency, and only two (VCU in 2010--11 and Marquette in 2002--03) have ranked outside the top 50.

3 Teams with strong interior defenses are the best bets to advance deep into March. (Defenses that thrive on locking down the three-point line or creating turnovers are more volatile over a six-game stretch.) Kentucky was No. 1 in two-point field goal defense allowed last season, and UConn, even though it was a surprise champ in 2011, ranked seventh nationally in that category during its title run.

PHOTOPETE SOUZA/THE WHITE HOUSESEAL OF APPROVAL Seeing the President make his tournament picks helps justify our bracket obsession—and plummeting office productivity—in the days following Selection Sunday.