Ed's note: When this first appeared, there were some inconsistencies in the formula, specifically with regard to the Texas Longhorns and Minnesota Golden Gophers. We've refined it, and here we go: seven ways to four teams.
Everyone has their own method for picking their tournament winners: toughest mascot, better school colors, a gut feeling. But, believe it or not, there may be a more reliable way to determine this year's winner than just throwing darts.
In 2009, we set out to analyze the past 20 NCAA Tournaments to determine if there were any common bonds between each of the winners. As it turns out, we discovered a set of eight criteria met by all 20 previous champions. Using that formula, we narrowed last year's field down to two potential winners: the Louisville Cardinals and North Carolina Tar Heels; Louisville was eliminated in the Elite Eight and UNC won it all.
Each of the past 20 winners fulfilled all eight steps on their way to capturing the title. This year, only seven of those categories are needed to bring us down to four teams. Now let's run through this year's field of 65 and see who could come out on top.
1. More Assists Than Turnovers
Let's start with a basic measure of a team's consistency. No team over the past 20 years has won the tournament when committing more turnovers than assists over the course of the season. It may seem surprising that a team could even make the big dance having done this, but you'd be surprised. Vanderbilt, Clemson , Florida State and Texas A&M are among those eliminated this round. A note of caution for Kentucky backers: The freshmen-laden Wildcats entered the SEC title game with the same number of assists and turnovers, barely escaping this category in the end.
This category eliminates: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Clemson, ETSU, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Morgan State, North Texas, Oakland, Oklahoma State, Robert Morris, Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara, Vanderbilt, Vermont, Wake Forest, Winthrop.