There is certainly not a perfect team in the Big Dance this year, and the field seems especially wide open with Virginia, Cincinnati, Michigan State and North Carolina all losing in the first weekend. The Spartans were a rare team with a top-10 offense and defense, and they still lost to one of the worst teams in the tournament in Syracuse. Things are getting mad.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote that, because the betting market is so in line with Ken Pomeroy’s Adjusted Efficiency Margin — which is simply Adjusted Offensive Efficiency minus Adjusted Defensive Efficiency — big weaknesses or advantages/disadvantages that aren’t accounted for in a basic points-per-possession metric could be undervalued by the betting market.
So, in that vein, let’s walk through each team’s biggest weaknesses and which teams are set up to exploit them. We’ll start with the worst team (sorry, Syracuse) and move our way up to the best (Villanova).
Biggest weakness: Shooting
West Virginia is not a good shooting team, ranking 183rd with a poor 50.6% effective field goal rate. The Mountaineers are the second-worst shooting team left in the tournament, and they’re still miles better than Syracuse, which ranks 325th out of 351 teams with a 46.8% effective field goal rate. It gets worse: The Orange rank 289th in percentage of shots from the 3-point line, and they’re 329th in 3-point percentage. Their offense is entirely reliant on penetration and getting to the line, which will be nearly impossible as they get a taste of their own medicine against Duke’s 2-3 zone.
Worst possible matchups: Duke, Texas A&M