On this first day of March, I give you your first taste this year of the often imitated but never duplicated Net Efficiency Margin. Read the background for details, but in short NEM is a tempo-free, opponent-adjusted, and site-adjusted metric for looking at a team's game-by-game performance. NEM allows us to look at trends over the course of a season in the proper context.

I'll break out NEM in full force during the NCAA Tournament as I have the last few seasons, but here are few nuggets to whet your appetite. All numbers are through Tuesday's games.

South Florida

With three key players missing parts of the first month, South Florida was not at full strength until mid-December. Since then, the Bulls have gone 11-5 against a relatively weak Big East schedule. NEM shows us that even considering the quality of their opponents, USF has been playing solid defense since getting back to full strength.

Reminder: Larger numbers are better for offensive NEM and smaller numbers are better for defensive NEM. NEM values are points per 100 possessions and are adjusted for quality of opponent and game location.

Full strength1815.92.9-13.0

To put the -13.0 in context, that would be rank their defense in the top 15 nationally. The committee may consider the impact of missing players on the their early season struggles, which may be enough to keep them on the good side of the cut line.

Duke and Indiana

These two schools are linked by the two winningest coaches in D-1 men's history, but they couldn't be more different in one aspect this season.

TeamHome NEMRoad/Neutral NEMHome court (dis)advantage

While Duke's defense has improved since bottoming out in late January, the Blue Devils are still playing about 5 points per 100 possessions better away from Cameron. This isn't surprising, given how they just completed a perfect ACC road season while dropping two home conference games with one more remaining.

Indiana, on the other hand, is taking advantage of the rejuvenated crowds at Assembly Hall this season. Again, given the powerhouse teams the Hoosiers have beaten at home, this is no surprise.