Without further ado, here are a few net efficiency margin-related thoughts on the Final Four teams. Much like the preferred "slash line" in baseball (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), NEM here will be shown as offensive/defensive/total NEM. (OK, so it's not exactly like the slash line, since you can derive the third from the other two, but work with me.) Remember, larger offensive NEM (more points scored) and smaller defensive NEM (fewer points allowed) is better.
Through the first four games of the tournament, the vaunted Syracuse zone has vanquished opponents new and old. Their tournament offense has been at roughly their regular season level, but the defense has been Orangetastic.
Regular season and Big East Tournament (35 games): 12.1/-12.8/24.9
NCAA tournament (4 games): 9.8/-38.0/47.8
That -38 defensive NEM means they're allowing 0.38 points per possession fewer than an average Division 1 team would allow against the same opponents. For a typical 66-possession game (the average number of possessions per D1 game), that translates to 25 points.
Mitch McGary started a few games in February, but was inserted into the Wolverines' starting lineup for good at the start of the NCAA tournament. In four games, McGary has averaged 30 minutes per game, pulled down 8 defensive rebounds per game, and scored a career-high 25 points against Kansas.
Remember it's only a four-game sample, so we have to be careful drawing too many conclusions.
Regular season and B1G tournament (32 games): 19.1/-8.0/27.2
NCAA tournament (4 games): 24.8/-20.7/45.5.
The offense is playing about 5 points per 100 possessions better, but the defense is much improved. For comparison, prohibitive favorite Louisville is sporting a 27.4/-19.6/47.0 NEM line for their four tournament games. If Michigan's improved play isn't a fluke, they could give the Cardinals something to worry about if both make it to Monday night.
KenPom recently noted that McGary is putting up some DeJuanian rebounding numbers, but he's also been producing points. McGary has made 33 of his 45 field goal attempts in the tournament (all inside the arc). He hasn't gotten to the line much (10 attempts in 4 games) or converted once there (he made 4 of those 10), so at least he has something to work on.
Louisville (and Michigan) prep?
Much was made before Sunday's Midwest Regional final about Coach K's 11-1 record in Elite 8 games, as if there was any predictive value for quick turnarounds in a 12-game sample that you couldn't already get by knowing he is a Hall of Fame coach with the most all-time D1 wins. (I digress.)
However, the numbers (again, an admittedly small sample) through the first two weeks show that Louisville and Michigan have each excelled in the second game of each pair. It could be superior preparation for games on short rest, or it could (more likely) be statistical noise. In any event, it's an interesting nugget and something to watch should both reach Monday.
First game of each week
Second game of each week
The Shockers beat the 1 and 2 seeds in their region on the way to Atlanta. Though none of the other three teams managed that, they didn't face the most difficult path down Peachtree Road.
Seeds defeated on the road to Atlanta:
- Michigan 13 + 5 + 1 + 3 = 22
- Wichita State 8 + 1 + 13 + 2 = 24
- Syracuse 13 + 12 + 1 + 3 = 29
- Louisville 16 + 8 + 12 + 2 = 38
They have also been the most consistent of the four teams remaining in the tournament, but is that enough?
Average and standard deviation NEM during 2013 NCAA tournament:
A smaller standard deviation indicates more consistent performance, which is usually good. The problem for Wichita State is that with their lower average, it also implies a lower ceiling if they remain consistent.