Thursday, March 27, 2008

Year of the Defense

In what is now its third annual incarnation - a look at the teams remaining in the Sweet 16. For what it's worth, my titling of these year's has been, well, less than successful in terms of predicting a final four. The first year was offense heavy in the Sweet 16, and none of the 7 best offensive teams in the Sweet 16 made the final 4. Last year was one of balance - and that prediction held better. UCLA was the only Final Four team not in the top 20 in both offense and defense. This year, the remaining teams are collectively stronger on the defensive side of the ball. The top 6 defensive teams in the country are all alive and well, compared to only 5 of the top 10 on the offensive side of the ball. The 5 that didn't make the Sweet 16 all had poor defenses - no one ranked higher than 56th, and Oregon's was worst at 120th. Three teams are in the top 10 in both categories, and two of those - UCLA and Memphis - have better defenses than offenses. If this trend holds, it gives cause for concern to those teams that are more heavily dependent on their offenses - UNC (#2 offense, #29 defense), Texas (#3 offense, #32 defense), and Tennessee (#11 offense, #22 defense). Here are the lists.

Offense
1) Kansas - 126.7
2) UNC - 126.5
3) Texas - 123.0
6) UCLA - 119.3
10) Memphis - 118.4
11) Tennessee - 118.3
14) Washington State - 118.0
15) Xavier - 117.9
18) Michigan State - 117.5
21) Stanford - 116.8
25) West Virginia - 116.3
27) Wisconsin - 116.0
31) Davidson - 115.1
35) Louisville - 114.7
60) Villanova - 110.4
62) Western Kentucky - 110.3

Defense
1) Wisconsin - 81.1
2) UCLA - 82.8
3) Memphis - 83.9
4) Kansas - 84.1
5) Louisville - 84.2
6) Washington State - 86.7
9) Stanford - 87.3
19) Michigan State - 89.3
22) Tennessee - 89.8
23) West Virginia - 89.9
26) Xavier - 90.6
29) UNC - 90.8
32) Texas - 91.5
36) Villanova - 92.0
40) Davidson - 92.3
68) Western Kentucky - 94.5

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