Every College Basketball Team That Can Still Make the Final Four, Based on Statistical Precedent

Every College Basketball Team That Can Still Make the Final Four, Based on Statistical Precedent article feature image

A couple months ago, I introduced a way to identify college basketball teams that fit the statistical profile of a national champion. In the final update to this column, I’ll be highlighting every team whose statistical profile still fits a potential Final Four or national title contender.

Let’s begin with a brief recap of our methods and qualifications, then review the teams shuffling up and down our rankings.

I initially analyzed all college basketball teams based on three metrics — each sourced from Ken Pomeroy — to determine which could win the national title this season:

Adjusted offensive efficiency (AdjO): Points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponents

Adjusted defensive efficiency (AdjD): Points allowed per 100 possessions, adjusted for opponents

Adjusted efficiency margin (AdjEM): The difference between a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency

I correlated each of these metrics with NCAA Tournament performance. Adjusted efficiency margin has the highest correlation, which suggests that well-balanced teams are more successful in the postseason.

We established that national champion-caliber teams generally boast an AdjEM score of 23.81 or higher. This threshold serves as the primary qualifying factor in our analysis.

In another article on our Final Four dark horse candidates, we also established statistical thresholds for AdjO and AdjD. Generally, Final Four teams boast an AdjO score of 114.0 or higher and an AdjD score of 96.2 or less.

Teams must fulfill all three of the above criteria in order to qualify as a national championship contender.


Final 2018-19 National Championship Contenders

Nine of those 10 teams currently boast top-10 odds to win the national championship this season. Virginia Tech remains a longshot at 100-1.

Each of these teams is represented below based on their current AdjO and AdjD, in order to help you visualize their standing relative to previous national champions and Final Four teams:


Final Four Dark Horse Contenders

Each of these teams is represented below based on their current AdjO and AdjD, in order to help you visualize their standing relative to previous national champions and Final Four teams:

Houston stands out in particular due to the Cougars’ exceptionally high AdjEM rating of 22.36. That AdjEM score is just 1.45 points away from our national champion threshold of 23.81. As a result, Houston remains the sole team with a realistic possibility of still ascending into national championship contention based on their AAC Tournament performance.


Teams to Monitor During Conference Tournament Play

The following teams are still on the outside looking-in at Final Four consideration. Some of them are trending up (Texas Tech, Mississippi State) and others are trending down (Louisville, Marquette), but all of them can make one final push with a strong performance in their respective conference tournaments.

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