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March Madness and What We Can Expect This Year

 

That time of the year is here! March Madness is just around the corner and we will get you ready for this exciting event by sharing our expectations for it and some projections based on KenPom.com

For those of you who don’t know, Ken Pomeroy created that website, which has in-depth ranking and statistics. Consulting KenPom.com is a must when filling out your bracket. 

Here’s an example why: in 2018 when Loyola Chicago made the Final Four, they ranked 17th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency. In 2015, South Carolina ranked 91st in adjusted offensive efficiency but they were 3rd in adjusted defensive efficiency and also reached the Final Four (as a No. 7 seed no less).  

Let’s get to it then: 

First, you need to understand that offensive efficiency is the number points scored by a team per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent. As for defensive efficiency, it is the number of points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent. Selection Sunday is on March 15 but keep an eye on these rankings (as of February 22):

 

Top 10 teams in adjusted offensive efficiency at KenPom.com

  1. Gonzaga (119.4 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 3)
  2. Dayton (118.4 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 6)
  3. LSU (117.6 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 35)
  4. BYU (117.4 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 16)
  5. Iowa (117.0 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 22)
  6. Creighton (117.0 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 13)
  7. Oregon (115.3 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 23)
  8. Duke (115.1 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 4)
  9. Kansas (115.0 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 1)
  10. San Diego State (114.9 points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 5)

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Top 10 teams in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom.com

  1. Kansas (83.8 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 1)
  2. West Virginia (84.4 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 7)
  3. Baylor (85.2 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 2)
  4. Virginia (86.4 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 48)
  5. Stanford (89.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 34)
  6. San Diego State (89.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 5)
  7. Texas Tech (89.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 14)
  8. Wichita State (89.2 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 39)
  9. Duke (89.2 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 4)
  10. Maryland (89.4 points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponent, No. 10)

 

Surprise Team in Wide Open NCAA Tournament

San Diego State was the last undefeated team in the nation at 26-0. They just lost 66-63 against UNLV at home last Saturday. San Diego State had won 16 of their last 17 games against UNLV, including their last four at Viejas Arena by an average of 26 points but there’s a reason why the games are played, there are no givens in sports.

 


“Well, we tasted defeat for the first time, and it doesn’t taste very good,” San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher said. “Anyone who has been saying that they thought a loss would be good for the Aztecs, we don’t feel that way at all. We wanted a perfect season. But it didn’t happen and that’s just college basketball.”

As far as why San Diego State was upset, there’s no one else to blame but themselves… They shot just 38.9 percent overall (making just 21 of 54 attempts) and were 8 of 27 (29.6 percent) from beyond the arc. Also, only six players scored — the five starters (Yanni Wetzell, Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel, KJ Feagin and Malachi Flynn) and Aguek Arop, who scored just four points in 10 minutes off the bench. 

It also didn’t help that they finished with 12 turnovers and just nine assists. You just won’t win many games when your turnovers surpass your assists. Flynn did his part, leading the way with 24 points but he was 4 of 13 from 3-point range. KJ Feagin struggled, he had just five points on 2 of 8 shooting and 1 of 6 from distance and he also had four costly turnovers. Yanni Wetzell missed five free-throws and didn’t play in the last 2:46… 

UNLV had a 37-25 lead at halftime, thanks to San Diego State’s poor 2 of 12 shooting from distance (which matched a season-low). 

Point guard Malachi Flynn is having an incredible season, averaging 16.9 points, 5.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 32.8 minutes over 27 games and Matt Mitchell averages 12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 25.6 minutes over 27 games. 

KenPom.com reveals that San Diego State has played the 112th hardest schedule in the country. Their non-conference schedule is even easier, ranking 218th. This explains why not many people mention them for the March Madness predictions but they are among the most balanced teams in the nation. As seen in the rankings above, only three teams rank in the in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency at KenPom.com: San Diego State, Kansas and Duke.  At around +1300 and +1800 at most online sportsbooks, depending on where you shop, San Diego State can go far in the 2020 NCAA Tournament and even win the whole thing. Is not a popular pick because of their strength of schedule but winning is winning and no other team in the country is undefeated. There’s a reason why it took 27 games for someone to beat them.

 

The Aztecs are now 26-1 overall and 15-1 against Mountain West Conference opponents (as of February 24). This is a reality check for them, it shows them that they’re not invincible and I think that it actually takes a lot of pressure off them because they no longer have to worry about staying undefeated and the possibility of winning the NCAA Tournament as an unbeaten team. Now San Diego State can focus just on playing their best basketball for the rest of the season and to me they’re an even more dangerous team in March.

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