Now that the bracket is set, let's use Net Efficiency Margin (NEM was introduced last season) to analyze the matchups and challenge some conventional wisdom. NEM is based on Ken Pomeroy's efficiency stats, and factors out game site, game tempo, and opponent strength to allow game-by-game comparisons.
It's obvious that Purdue is not the same team without Robbie Hummel. While the five game post-Hummel sample is not enough to draw significant conclusions, let's take a look anyway. I've omitted the Minnesota game in which Hummel was injured.
Games NEM OffNEM With Hummel 26 27.4 12.1 Without 5 10.8 -5.6
Purdue had enough trouble scoring before Hummel's injury, but without him they've been a below-average Division I team on offense. The Boilermakers are still a top 25 defensive team, but if they want to advance to Houston or beyond, they need to find a way to put points on the board.
Don't be so quick to pick against Wisconsin because of their troubles away from Madison.
Games NEM DefNEM Home 17 31.4 -15.4 Road/neutral 17 25.9 -13.3
The Badgers are a little over 5 points per 100 possessions better in Madison overall, with about 2 of those on defense. That would still place them defensively in the top 20 in adjusted efficiency, which makes them a strong candidate to make a deep run.
On the other hand, #1 seed Duke has a more obvious problem on the road. Last month I took a look at Duke's home/neutral/road spread and found a signifcant difference between their play at Cameron Indoor Stadium and road games.
While the gap has diminished some since then, it is still there, and is primarily driven by offense.
Games NEM OffNEM Home 17 40.3 25.9 Road/neutral 17 31.2 14.7
The Blue Devils, which have the best offense in the country, are scoring roughly 11 points fewer per 100 possessions away from Cameron. Of course, this makes them a very, very good offensive team rather than an elite one, but without a site close to home this year, it's something to keep an eye on.