In the next couple of weeks leading up to the tournament I am going to go through some of the most popular teams that I feel are tournament contenders or pretenders to get to the second weekend, final four or win it all. I feel any good team, with the right bracket and match-ups, can make a run to the Elite Eight and maybe even the Final Four. To win it all I feel there are several criteria the team needs to meet but above everything the team needs enough versatility to handle multiple playing styles. I judge this ability to be versatile not so much on if a team is great at any particular category, but what a team is bad at. I feel it is important for a team to not be below average in several categories(ranked 200 or lower), or really bad in any category(ranked 300 or lower). I also feel there is no Carmelo Anthony in this years field that can carry a team to a title. And I also feel there is no team that is nearly as good as the Kansas or Memphis team that squared off three years ago or the North Carolina team from two years ago. This field is wide open.
I will take the current stats off of Kenpom.com since it gives us the efficiency stats and provides the ability to look at teams from past years. The stats I will focus on are Offensive Efficiency, Defensive Efficiency, Effective FG %, Turnover %, Offensive Rebound%, Free Throw Rate, 3 Point%, 2 Point%, FT%, Block% and Steal%. These are the major stats tracked at Kenpom and give a very strong snapshot of any particular team.
I love the Badgers and am a Wisconsin fan. But I will be taking my bias out of this projection as I am truly basing this off of the stats and prior years. The Badgers efficiency stats are in the table at the below.
|Adj. Efficiency||124.2 1||93.9 50||101.5|
|Adj. Tempo||58.1 344||66.9|
|Effective FG%:||52.7 41||47.4 97||49.1|
|Turnover %:||13.5 1||17.3 313||20.3|
|Off. Reb. %:||34.5 96||27.3 11||32.3|
|FTA/FGA:||28.8 334||30.5 39||37.8|
|3P%:||37.6 47||36.3 267||34.4|
|2P%:||50.1 83||44.6 54||47.8|
|FT%:||82.6 1||74.4 341||69.1|
|Block%:||6.5 10||9.2 167||9.2|
|Steal%:||6.8 6||6.2 342||9.5|
- Offensive Efficiency. The Badgers are currently ranked #1 in the country.
- Offensive Turnover %. The Badgers are also ranked #1 in offensive turnover rate.
- FT%. The Badgers are also ranked #1 in free throw%.
- Defensive Rebounding. The Badgers are 11th in the country at gathering the opponents misses.
- Block and Steal % Offense. The Badgers do not get blocked on offense(ranked 10th) and do not give up steals(ranked 6th).
- Turnover % defense. The Badgers are 313 in forcing turnovers.
- Free Throw Rate. The Badgers are 334 in the country at getting to the line per field goal attempt.
- 3 point % defense. The Badgers are 267 in defensive three point shooting%.
- Steal %. The Badgers are 342 in creating steals.
My Tournament Projection: Wisconsin has a highly efficient offense which bodes well come tournament time. If you have the choice between an efficient offense or defense, go with the offense in basketball. Wisconsin is also a great free throw shooting team which will allow them to salt games away when they get a lead, this should really help out in the early rounds when Wisconsin should be the more talented team. The offensive efficiency, lack of turning it over and free throw shooting should be enough on their own to get to the second weekend.
Once in the second weekend Wisconsin is possibly the most susceptible to match-ups. Wisconsin only plays at a slower pace and rarely if ever speeds it up which is unfortunate. If Wisconsin were to speed it up to grab a lead, than slow it down to salt the game I would be more confident of their chances against like competition that they will see in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Add to this the fact that Wisconsin does not force turnovers nor do they get steals that can quickly be converted to points which prevents Wisconsin from quick runs that can open up a game or quickly close down a deficit. Wisconsin will be in a grind it out game likely from the second round on.
Due to the talents and ability of Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor I do feel the Badgers can rise above their deficiencies to get a round past where they should. These two players take Wisconsin’s ceiling of a second weekend run to a potential final four team. But I feel the Badgers getting to the final four is their ceiling, too many chances along the way to meet up with a bad matchup. A bad matchup for the Badgers would be any team that can speed you up with their defense, shoot the three, and have the personnel to match up with Leuer and Taylor.
Second Weekend: Near Lock. Any team can have a bad day and if the Badgers get stuck in a 3-6 seed the second round matchup would be far from a gimme. Otherwise the Badgers are in position to control their own destiny in the first weekend.
Final Four: Contender. I do not think the Badgers can make the final four if their path to the final four holds form throughout, meaning if they are a three seed they would face a 6, 2, and 1 to get into the final four. If the Badgers get at least one break and avoid getting the toughest possible matchup in each round I feel they are good enough on offense and can create enough issues with Leuer and Taylor to make a run to the final four.
Championship: Pretender. It think the deficiencies in forcing turnovers, 3 point % defense, and getting to the free throw line are too many to win six games in row for the Badgers. What Wisconsin is bad at, they are really bad at and that shows a lack of versatility that you need to take on all comers in the tourney.