Legit contenders to win it all
Which of 2013's top teams measure up to past champs, and which don't?
I've assessed the relative merits of college basketball's national title contenders a couple of times already this season, and by now you likely know the drill, so I'll be brief:
For the past seven seasons I've tracked the per-possession performance in league play of more than 100 teams in Division I's top conferences. Over that span the average major-conference team that makes the Final Four has outscored its league by 0.13 of a point per possession during the regular season. On the other hand, Connecticut won it all in 2011 after outscoring the Big East by just one-hundredth of a point per trip (what I call the Connecticut Exception), so keep in mind that there's a reason this month is known for its madness.
However, by measuring this season's top teams against the standard set by past Final Four entrants, we can get a very good idea of which contenders are legitimate threats to win it all and which ones aren't. Connecticut Exceptions notwithstanding, your 2013 national champion likely will be one of the following seven teams. (At the end, we'll detail three top-rated teams that don't measure up.)
Teams that can win it all
Florida Gators (plus-0.29 of a point per possession)
Will Yeguete isn't the most important player in the country, but the with-Yeguete and without-Yeguete numbers are striking. With Yeguete in the lineup in January and early February, the Gators outscored the SEC by 0.42 of a point per possession, a number that might be termed historic, insane or both. But after Yeguete was sidelined by a knee injury on Feb. 5, Billy Donovan's team lost three of its next seven games.
To read John Gasaway's full article on which of this season's top teams are legitimate threats to win a national championship, you must be an ESPN Insider.
Insider CBB content
• Greenberg/Telep: Kansas Jayhawks
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Marquette
• Gasaway/Rankin: Indiana Hoosiers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Michigan Wolverines
• Gasaway/Rankin: Ohio State Buckeyes
• Greenberg/Finkelstein: Memphis Tigers
• Gasaway/Rankin: Florida Gators
• Greenberg/Telep: Kentucky Wildcats
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Louisville Cardinals
• Gasaway/Finkelstein: Syracuse Orange
• Greenberg/Biancardi: NC State Wolfpack
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Duke Blue Devils
• Biancardi/Gasaway: North Carolina Tar Heels
• Biancardi/Gasaway: Arizona Wildcats
• Greenberg/Telep: UCLA Bruins
• Gasaway: Breakout second-year coaches
• Lunardi: Could Louisville repeat as champs?
• Greenberg: UVA tops list of surprise teams
• Fraschilla: How returning stars can improve
• Gasaway: Top title challengers to Kentucky
• Lunardi: Who will earn No. 1 seeds in 2014?
• Telep: Latest on No. 13 junior Theo Pinson
• Rankin: What Wiggins means for Kansas
• Biancardi: KU to prep Wiggins for NBA success
• Telep: Updated look at top recruits
• Roundtable: Most impressive on AAU circuit?
• Ford: NBA draft lottery preview
• Ford: Winners from the NBA draft combine
• Fraschilla: Burke the draft's top point guard?
• Ford: Measurements concern some GMs
• Ford: Why Wiggins would go No. 1 in 2013
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