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Why Duke will probably win the NCAA Tournament

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And trust me, this is not something I want to be writing in any way, shape, or form. However, the trends from the last 10 Final Fours, along with the numbers from this Final Four do not predict good things for last two days of the tournament, so at least this will give Tar Heel fans a chance to begin their grieving process.

First, let's look at what we have seen over the last 10 Final Fours, as it relates each team's Efficiency Margins (EM), which is the difference between a team's offensive and defensive efficiencies:

  • The average EM of the previous 40 Final Four participants has been 18.8 (Range: 6.8 - 27.5)
  • The average EM of the last 10 National Champions has been 22.4 (Range: 13.8 - 27.5)
  • The team with the highest EM in the Final Four has won the Title 7 of the last 10 years (including the last 4)
  • The eventual champion has had an EM of at least 21 for 8 of the last 10 years (including the last 6)
  • The eventual champion has had an offensive efficiency of at least 112 for 9 of the last 10 years
  • None of the last 10 Champions had a defensive efficiency greater than 95.8

Now, what do the efficiency numbers look like for this year's Final Four?

[table id=30 /]

So, what we have is a Duke team with an EM that is higher than the average EM of the last 10 Champions versus 3 teams with EMs significantly lower than the average EM of the last 40 Final Four participants. In other words, Duke is an even bigger favorite than would be assumed if just looking at the fact that they are the only #1-seed remaining.

Wonderful...

On top of that, two of the Final Four teams (WVU and MSU) have defensive efficiencies that would make them the worst defensive teams to win a title this century, and Butler would be the worst offensive team to win the title.

Even more wonderful...

And lastly, the difference between Duke's EM and Butler's EM represents the largest difference between the top two EMs in a Final Four over the last 11 years.

Ugh...

On the plus side, if any one of the other 3 teams can knock Duke out, then Duke's failure to win it all would certainly be one of the bigger upsets in the last 10-20 years of college basketball!