The 4 Numbers to Know for the Sweet 16 (Day 2)
Well, that was fun, wasn't it? To be fair, we did tell you that Wichita State was the most likely of the four teams to win. It's just that the odds were against Indiana and Miami both falling down.
Marquette only held a 41.38 percent chance to win and Syracuse only held a 31.42 percent chance to win, the 12th and 13th most likely Elite 8 teams entering the weekend. They're both still alive, though, and the attention now turns to who will join them.
For each game, we've picked out a selected stat that we think could determine the outcome of the game. And because I'm feeling generous, I'm also going to give you each team's odds of victory, as determined by the Elite Eight odds on our Team Rankings page.
(1) Louisville Cardinals vs. (12) Oregon Ducks
Number to Know: 13.70
Louisville holds the No. 2 opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 24 opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency in the country. This isn't exactly news. Rick Pitino's team is halfway decent. On paper, Oregon's No. 148 ranked offense doesn't stand a chance; the Cardinals averaged 7.09 more points scored than the Ducks per 100 possessions this season.
However, we all know that Ducks fly together and have upset potential, as St. Louis/Team Iceland could tell you through tears. How susceptible is Louisville to being upset, though? There isn't a clear answer on this one. Louisville's standard deviation of their game-to-game efficiencies comes in at 13.70, or No. 149 among Division I teams. That places them around the 58th percentile of NCAA teams in terms of inconsistency. That doesn't provide a gaping hole for Oregon to exploit, but a hole is there nonetheless.
What We Expect: Louisville win with 92.1 percent odds
Well, I didn't say it was a great chance now. The Nike-branded NCAA team isn't long for this Tournament, or at least that's what the odds say. Louisville could very well go all the way to the Elite 8 without facing a squad that had more than a 17 percent chance of beating them. It's not even fun to be the No. 1 overall seed unless you've got some competition.
Louisville's two NCAA Tourney games thus far have seen them with both an offensive and defensive rating better than expectation, even after adjusting for opponents. If Oregon's No. 16 defense, the one strength of their team, can't hold Louisville to under a point per possession, it will be a long night for the Ducks. Louisville has scored at least a point per possession in each of their last four games, including the Big East Tourney semis and finals.
(1) Kansas Jayhawks vs. (4) Michigan Wolverines
Number to Know: 84
It's no secret that the Wolverines are going to score since Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. have that aspect covered. Michigan finished the season with 118.48 points per 100 possessions after adjusting for opponents, the greatest offensive efficiency left in the field after Indiana's defeat. Instead, the real question is on the other side of the ball: will Michigan stop Kansas enough to make it matter?
Michigan comes into this game with the No. 84 defense in the country, sandwiched between Eastern Michigan and Providence on our overall defensive rankings. The Wolverines had a tendency to get involved in track meets (remember those Indiana games?), and it resulted in an allowed 0.978 points per possession (PPP). They have stepped up defensively in the Tourney to this point, allowing 0.903 PPP to South Dakota St. and 0.803 PPP to VCU, but stats regress to the mean eventually...
What We Expect: Kansas win with 55.3 percent odds
Kansas should be favored, but it shouldn't be by an overwhelming margin. Sure, those Jayhawks finished seventh in Division I in terms of net efficiency this season, scoring 21.01 more points than they allowed per 100 possessions. Guess who was right under them in eighth, though? Those pesky Wolverines, who scored 20.68 more points than they allowed per 100 possessions due to that excellent offense.
The Jayhawks' defense has been stellar recently, even better than the opponent-adjusted 0.90 PPP that gained them a top-ten ranking in our efficiency charts. In their past three games, against Kansas State (Big 12 Tourney Final), North Carolina A&T, and North Carolina, they have not allowed more than 0.85 PPP a single time.
(2) Duke Blue Devils vs. (3) Michigan State Spartans
Number to Know: 42
Ahh, 42: The answer to Life, the Universe, Everything, and the number of spaces between Michigan State and Duke on our opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency charts. Duke's been getting a lot of press for their offense, and with good reason: they have the seventh-best offensive efficiency in the country. Just know that Michigan State has an advantage in here, too.
After adjusting for opponents (which means a lot when you're often headbutting Indiana and Michigan), the Spartans allowed 0.922 points per possession this season. That ranks No. 17 on our top defenses list, fifth among teams still alive (behind Louisville, Florida, Kansas, and Oregon). I don't think the Memphis Tigers would be surprised to hear that: the Spartans allowed just 0.676 points per possession against the Tigers in the Round of 32.
What We Expect: Duke win with 50.9 percent odds
We have our one true toss-up of the Sweet 16 here; every other game has one side with at least 55 percent odds of winning. With Coach K and Tom Izzo meeting head-to-head, I honestly wouldn't expect anything less.
Michigan State isn't particularly prone to inconsistency, sitting around the 30th percentile for highest standard deviation in Division I. Duke, though, is right around the 70th percentile, having been much more up-and-down this season. By the stats, and really, why would I trust anything else, a Michigan State victory would most likely happen because of a cold Duke night than an extraordinary Spartans performance.
(3) Florida Gators vs. (15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles
Number to Know: 116.42
We discussed the Florida Gators pretty heavily before their Tournament and their FGCU counterparts heavily themselves earlier this week. However, there is one number that bears repeating, and that's Florida's offensive prowess.
While both Georgetown and San Diego State were outside the Top 100 NCAA teams in terms of offensive efficiency, the Eagles will be seeing a slightly different squad in Florida. Go ahead and erase two digits there, because the Gators sit fourth in the country in opponent-adjusted offensive efficiency. Florida's 116.42 points scored per 100 possessions is over 10 more than either the Hoyas or Aztecs, and it sits as an effective counter to the Eagles' own No. 109 offensive efficiency.
What We Expect: Florida win with 96.5 percent odds
Sorry Cinderella, but midnight is rapidly approaching. As already discussed in the FGCU article from earlier this week, the Eagles do indeed have a chance, but it's just not a very good one.
Cinderella's one shot would be forcing the Gators to hurry with their No. 42 quick pace, and there is some precedent for the Gators faltering that way. Florida has averaged at least 1.1 points scored per possession in four of their last five games, including the SEC Tournament. The one game they didn't? Ole Miss forced the Gators to run, and Florida only shot a .466 effective field goal percentage en route to 0.913 points per possession and a loss.