A look inside the numbers to try to narrow down the bracket
At this time of year, everyone’s in search of a system — some way of simplifying the brackets and making it a little easier to pick one champion out of all those contenders.
You could go with the most experienced coaches, or perhaps the teams playing the best defense. Or you could fill out the whole bracket based on team mascots .
Fortunately, thanks to the proliferation of advanced stats, there is another way. Basketball junkies are familiar with Ken Pomeroy’s work at kenpom.com , and there’s similar data available at barttorvik.com . In fact, the latter site is especially helpful because of the filters it offers for archived stats. For each year since 2008, it’s easy to go back and see what type of profile the eventual champion had before the NCAA Tournament.
A quick look at the past 11 national champions reveals some interesting information. It’s possible for a team to win the title while being deficient in some areas. For example, Villanova’s 2016 title team was just 210th in offensive rebounding percentage heading into the tournament.
However, there are a handful of important stats in which each champion since 2008 was ranked solidly in the top half of Division I. Let’s take a look at those — and see if they can help us narrow down this field of 68.