Legit contenders to win it all

Which of 2013's top teams measure up to past champs, and which don't?

Originally Published: March 5, 2013
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Scottie Wilbekin, Mike Rosario, Will Yeguete, Erik Murphy Rob Foldy/USA TODAY SportsWith Will Yeguete (15) back in the lineup, Florida has the look of a Final Four team.

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.