Is This the Best Final Four We've Seen Since the Turn of the Century?
Three 1 seeds and a Tom Izzo-led squad. This year's Final Four is pretty good.
But how talented is it when compared to other recent Final Fours?
I've found the answer.
If you haven't checked out our tournament coverage so far, not only have you missed out on our sweet numberFire Live application, but you probably have no idea about our awesome metrics, too. The most popular one that we use is called nERD, which tells us the number of points we'd expect a particular team to win by against an average squad on a neutral court.
In other words, a nERD of zero means that team is completely average. A nERD of 1.56 means we'd assume that team would beat an ordinary one by 1.56 points.
Final Four teams are clearly good, so their nERD ratings will be higher than zero. Since 2000, Virginia Commonwealth is the worst one we've seen, and their nERD was a solid 8.20 that year (2011). And VCU is the only Final Four team to not hit the double digits in nERD rating since the turn of the century.
With all of this being said, I set out to find which Final Fours since 2000 (16 of them) have had the highest and lowest nERD averages. Because averages can be skewed a bit in this case given there are only four teams, I've also found the median nERD score for each Final Four group over this time period.
Below are the results, sorted by median nERD rating.
|Final Four||Average nERD||Median nERD|
From the chart above, you see that this year's Final Four is the third-best one we've seen since 2000. The best, 2001, had the highest-rated team we've ever seen, Duke, as well as Arizona and Michigan State teams that featured a 21.1 and 20.3 nERD, respectively. In total, 2001's Final Four had three of the top-11 Final Four teams our numbers have calculated since the turn of the century.
Next comes 2008, which, if you recall, was the year all four 1 seeds made it to the Final Four.
And then there's the present season. Kentucky's 23.17 nERD is the second best we've encountered since 2000, while Wisconsin (20.22, 13th since 2000) and Duke (19.32, 19th) are both top-20 Final Four teams.
Michigan State's 14.18 nERD is bringing this group's average down a bit -- of the 64 Final Four teams over the last 16 years, this year's Spartans rank 53rd.
But even without the Spartans, it'd be tough to crown this year's Final Four the best we've seen. It's really, really good though -- we should be in store for some great basketball this weekend.