When the NCAA Tournament brackets were announced (and/or leaked) yesterday, it meant the stats and ratings on KenPom.com were locked in their final pre-tournament state. And those final stats put the Virginia Cavaliers in an enviable position: ranked in the top 10 for both offensive and defensive efficiency. Only UVa and Kansas can boast that status this year.
(Quick aside: KenPom is an invaluable resource at tourney time. For in-depth ratings of each team, you'll need to buy a subscription. You should. You'll earn it back in your tournament pools.)
In the fourteen years of KenPom data, only 21 teams have entered the tournament rated top 10 in both—what I'll call "T10" teams. Of those 21, 11 have made the Final Four and an additional 3 made the Elite Eight. Put another way, two-thirds of all teams in the same class as Virginia have made the Elite Eight. Only three teams didn't make the tournament's second weekend: Wichita State in 2014, Duke in 2008, and Cincinnati in 2002.
Similar trends hold true expanding the classification to teams whose offensive and defensive efficiency ranks average out to top 10—what I've called "T20" teams, since the total of their ranks is 20 or lower. Of the 31 teams that fit this category, 14 made the Final Four and six more made the Elite Eight. Again, that's about two-thirds of the teams in the group with Virginia. There were two more first-weekend exits among the T20 crowd: Villanova in 2015, and Texas in 2011.
Villanova and North Carolina are both in the T20 group this year. Michigan State just missed, with their ranks adding up to 21.
As every Virginia fan is all too well aware, making it to the Elite Eight means a probable match-up with Michigan State for the third straight NCAA Tournament. Historically speaking, the Hoos have about a 67 percent chance of making that round and getting the chance to settle the family business.
Some other interesting tidbits:
- The other team to enter the tournament with the same rankings as Virginia—9th on offense, 4th on defense—was Florida in 2013. The Gators won each of their first three games by double digits before meeting the red-hot Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight. Michigan knocked off Florida to win the South Regional, and rode Trey Burke all the way to a national runner-up finish.
- 17 of the 21 T10 teams were #1 seeds. The only four that weren't were Louisville in 2014, Florida in 2013, Ohio State in 2012, and Duke in 2008. All but 2012 Ohio State missed the Final Four. Both T10 teams in 2016 are #1 seeds (Kansas and UVa).
- There have been six seasons with multiple T10 teams: 2014 (Louisville and Wichita State), 2012 (Kentucky and Ohio State), 2008 (Kansas, UCLA, and Duke), 2007 (Ohio State and UNC), 2005 (UNC, Illinois, and Duke), and 2002 (Kansas, Duke, and Cincinnati). The only year with multiple T10 teams in which all T10 teams made the Final Four was 2012, with Kentucky and Ohio State.
- Only two seasons had no T20 teams at all: 2009 and 2006.
- Kansas' appearance as a T10 in 2016 makes it their third, one of only five teams with multiple years as a T10. Duke has the most with six (2011, 2010, 2008, 2005, 2004, and 2002).
- Four T10 teams have cut down the nets and won the title: Kentucky in 2012, Duke in 2010, Kansas in 2008, and UNC in 2005. Two more made the final game: Ohio State in 2007 and Illinois in 2005.