Following up on my injury post where I defined net efficiency margin (NEM) as a tempo-free and opponent-strength-independent team performance metric, I decided to review the first round performances using NEM. Some of the results will be obvious, but removing the strength of the opponent from the comparison can unearth some hidden gems from Thursday's and Friday's games.

All raw efficiency data is from the sublime I used the ratings through last Sunday's games to make the comparisons. (For my second round reviews, I'll update the ratings through the end of the first round, and so on.)

Best games (by combined total NEM)

 ResultTotal NEM 
1.UCLA65VCU6443.0VCU's -16.6 defensive NEM was not quite enough to pull off the upset.
2.Arizona St.66Temple5741.8Temple puts up a good fight, but the Sun Devils' 31.5 total NEM was too much.
3.Texas A&M79BYU6639.2This one was all Aggies.
4.Michigan62Clemson5939.1Defense (-20.7 NEM) leads Michigan to the win.
5.Marquette58Utah St.5738.9The Golden Eagles squeak by in a defensive showdown with both teams posting defensive NEMs better than -18.7.

Top overall performances

1.ConnecticutChattanooga64.7What do you expect with a 103-47 final?
2.North CarolinaRadford49.0Another #1 seed takes care of business.
3.Cleveland St.Wake Forest45.0Led by their offense, the Vikings shock the Deacs.
4.Texas A&MBYU42.8The Aggies and their second round opponent Connecticut both show up in the top four.
5.OklahomaMorgan St.42.3A balanced performance from the Sooners shows they may be back to full strength.

Top offensive performances

1.Cleveland St.Wake Forest37.3The Vikings jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back, led by a 9.1% turnover rate and 52.3 effective FG%.
2.GonzagaAkron36.9The Zags continued their recent offensive hot streak, but the defense (56th NEM out of 64 teams in the first round) is a concern.
3.DukeBinghamton28.8The Elliot Williams experiment continues to pay off on the offensive side of the ball (23.4 offensive NEM in their last 10). Unfortunately, it's still not paying off on defense (-3.6 defensive NEM over the same stretch, after -16.6 over their first 25 games).
4.Texas A&MBYU26.6The Aggies hope to duplicate their strong offensive showing in the second round against the stout Connecticut defense.
5.DaytonWest Virginia26.5The Flyers ranked 144th in adjusted offensive efficiency coming in against the 15th ranked defense, but shot well enough and took care of the ball to post their season high offensive NEM.

Top defensive performances (lower scores are better)

1.ConnecticutChattanooga-45.5Already known for their defense, the Huskies put up their best defensive effort of the year according to NEM.
2.North CarolinaRadford-33.6Could these Tar Heels be channeling the 2006 Florida team that played a good but not great defense (-11.6 NEM) through the regular season but went kicked it into high gear (-24.1 NEM) in the tournament?
3.SyracuseS.F. Austin-33.1The Orange continue the tough defense they showed in the Big East tournament (-16.9 NEM over their last nine games).
4.S.F. AustinSyracuse-32.5This game was a defensive showdown (or an offensive nightmare?) as both teams posted defensive NEMs in the top 4 of the first round.
5.SienaOhio St.-28.0The Saints needed all the defense they could muster to knock off Ohio State in double overtime.

Worst overall performances

1.ChattanoogaConnecticut-40.0When you're on the bottom five lists for both offense and defense, you know it's a bad day.
2.RadfordNorth Carolina-18.1The Heels were not nearly as potent on offense as usual against Radford, but it's hard to separate the absence of Ty Lawson.
3.Morgan St.Oklahoma-16.2
4.Wake ForestCleveland St.-10.3
5.Portland St.Xavier-9.3A team that many thought had a chance to surprise goes home early.

Worst offensive performances

1.S.F. AustinSyracuse-29.2
2.ChattanoogaConnecticut-27.7The Mocs were dreadful across the board (largely due to UConn), shooting 29.6% eFG and gathering only 19% of the available offensive rebounds.
3.RadfordNorth Carolina-25.2
4.Morgan St.Oklahoma-15.5
5.Ohio St.Siena-11.3The Buckeyes have had a problem with offensive rebounding all year (ranked 285th for the season, 21.5% vs. Siena), but the added atypical poor shooting (45.8% effective FG vs. Siena, ranked 13th in the regular season) eventually doomed the Buckeyes in double overtime.

Worst defensive performances (higher scores are worse)

1.Wake ForestCleveland St.22.6Cleveland State scored 1.27 points per possession on the 14th best adjusted defensive efficiency. The Deacs defense was significantly worse over their last 15 games (-4.4 defensive NEM, 8-7 record) than during their 16-0 start (-19.2 defensive NEM).
2.Portland St.Xavier17.5Allowing 61.1% effective FG and forcing turnovers at a 11.7% rate certainly won't help pull off a 13 vs. 4 upset.
3.CaliforniaMaryland15.4The Terps have picked up the offense over the last four games with a 19.8 NEM (4.8 NEM prior).