The 10 Most Consistent NCAA Tournament Teams
Reliability. Dependability. Durability. Toughness.
Sometimes when talking heads on sports talkshows try to define the essence of a team, they sound like they're selling power tools.
And, sure, there are some teams who go out and give it 100% every night based on the eye test. But what about when you analyze things more objectively?
Thankfully for me, we have those metrics, or else I wouldn't have had anywhere else to go with that thought.
So, based on our Consistency metric, which teams are the most reliable in the NCAA Tournament?
The Top 5
Our Consistency measure ranks teams in percentile form, and the lower the percentile, the more consistent the squad is based on point differential in their games throughout the season.
The top five, it so happens, is made up of double-digit seeds -- and we're not talking just the 10s and 11s.
However, these aren't the juggernaut schools who will be competing for the national title (though I'd be all for it if they could).
Here's the top-five, their strength of schedule, Offensive Efficiency (in percentile rank among all schools in the country), Defensive Efficiency, and ranks among the 68 qualified tournament teams.
|South Dakota St.||0.5159||50||0.837||31||0.793||39||0.059|
Each team has a strength of schedule ranking 48th or lower, no offense cracks the top 30, and only one defense -- Weber State -- ranks inside the top 35.
So what about the key players in the field?
Wisconsin, 7 Seed, East Region
Wisconsin boasts the best Consistency rating of all of the 1 through 11 seeds, and they did so while playing the 15th-toughest schedule among the 68 tournament teams. Not bad.
They haven't lost back-to-back games since January 12th (when they lost three straight), and they're 11-3 since then.
However, their Offensive Efficiency (70th percentile in the country) and Defensive Efficiency (76th percentile) aren't exactly stellar marks. One thing that helps them close the gap is their Pace, which is the third-slowest among tournament teams.
At just 64.2 possessions per 40 minutes, Wisconsin will have to take advantage of their modest efficiency or else they're at risk of variance getting the better of them over a small sample. It'll help that Pitt, their first-round opponent, owns the 15th-slowest pace in the field.
Seton Hall, 6 Seed, Midwest Region
Seton Hall earned a 6 seed while playing the 29th-toughest schedule in the field. But for the Pirates, consistency doesn't mean balance.
Their offense ranks in the 61st percentile, but their defense ranks in the 93rd percentile in the nation. They make up for the lack of efficiency on offense -- or their inefficiency is because of -- a fairly hefty pace, one that ranks 16th in the tournament.
Gonzaga, their first-round opponent, presents a very intriguing matchup. The Bulldogs rank in the 97th percentile in Offensive Efficiency and the 89th in Defensive Efficiency. That alone is scary. But variance might rear its head in this 6/11 matchup.
Gonzaga ranks 46th in Pace and are the 21st-most inconsistent team on the bracket. Their Effective Field Goal Percentage of 55.4% (eighth-best in the field) could be problematic if they can slow down the tempo.
Oregon, 1 Seed, West Region
It's no secret that our numbers aren't high on the Ducks this year, and we see them as one of the worst 1 seeds since 2000. Their offense (90th percentile) and defense (81st percentile) isn't anything to be ashamed of -- nor is their second-toughest schedule among tournament teams.
The Ducks haven't shot worse than 42.5% (Effective Field Goal Percentage) all season, and three of their four worst games by Effective Field Goal Percentage resulted in losses -- they have just six on the year.
They've scored 60 points or more in all but one game, and they rank 42nd in Three-Point Attempt Rate among the tourney squads, so they don't rely on the three-ball to score.
Providence, 9 Seed, East Region
Providence is reliant on defense -- that much is true. Their offense ranks in just the 60th percentile, but their defense is in the 84th. They rank 25th in Pace among tournament teams and faced the 33rd-hardest schedule among tourney teams. They're 19th in Three-Point Attempt Rate, 64th in True Shooting Percentage, and 65th in Effective Field Goal Percentage among tournament teams.
So how are they consistent? Well, they hit 60 points in all but two games. In only six of their 33 games did they allow fewer than 60 or more than 80 (one of which was a double-overtime game).
Oh, and they had as many double-digit wins (10) as losses this season, and the teams they lost to were Seton Hall (twice), Michigan State, Villanova (twice), Xavier (twice), DePaul, and Marquette (twice). That's a respectable list.
North Carolina, 1 Seed, East Region
UNC boasts the eighth-best Offensive Efficiency in the tourney, but their defense ranks in just the 72nd percentile in the country. They played the 18th-toughest schedule and ranked fifth in RPI. Only one team (Florida Gulf Coast) in the field attempts three-pointers at a lower rate than the Tar Heels do.
They had as many single-digit wins (six) as losses this year, and 22 of their 28 wins were by double-digits.
That'll do it.