Arizona's Deandre Ayton is first, but like Cincinnati's Gary Clark he can only wait to see how three others still playing do on the offensive and defensive side of the ball because right now those five are within 0.72 points of value per game. Here is the list, and note that while Saint Mary's Jock Landale is in the NIT, Villanova's Mikal Bridges and West Virginia's Jevon Carter could shoot up in the rankings if either can dominate against the other in Friday's Sweet 16 game:
|1||Deandre Ayton #13||Arizona||Done||11.32|
|2||Jock Landale #34||St. Mary's||NIT vs Utah-Wed||11.00|
|3||Gary Clark #11||Cincinnati||Done||10.80|
|4||Mikal Bridges #25||Villanova||NCAA vs WVU-Fri||10.74|
|5||Jevon Carter #2||West Virginia||NCAA vs Vill-Fri||10.60|
Carter Dominated Defensively in Round 2
Everyone else looks at offensive stats first, so let's first look at the defense. Carter's led a West Virginia defense with four defensive rebounds and five steals, as they help Marshall to only 86% of their normal offensive production (they normally score 1.10 points per possession, and only scored on 71 of 75 possessions for 0.95 points per possession - so 0.95 divided by 1.10 is 0.86. If Carter can perform anywhere near that level against Villanova - the top offense in the country with 1.20 points per trip - then his defensive rating would improve enough to help him move up into the top three.
Bridges led and even more impressive defensive effort as Villanova held an Alabama team to only 58 points on 66 trips, which is only 0.81 of their normal offensive output of 1.09 per trip. Bridges did not have any steals, and with two blocked shots and defensive rebounds ranks just below Carter for the game's defensive effort, but we are talking an A+ vs an A.
Landale had a terrible NIT performance against Washington. Not only did Washington run all over the Saint Mary's defense that he anchors, scoring 81 points in 64 trips down the court, but Landale did not block a shot or grab a steal and only recorded one defensive rebound.
Wednesday Landale needs to redeem himself on defense against a Utah offense that is even better than Washington's (1.12 per trip vs. 1.07 per trip), while Carter tries to stop the best offense in the national and Bridges takes on a solid offense from West Virginia. Here is the summary of the defensive grades for all three players and the challenge ahead:
|Best Defense||Def Effort||Opp Off||How Good||Def Reb||Blk||Stl|
|Jock Landale||vs. Wash||F||1.27||1.07||1.18||1||0||0|
|Mikal Bridges||vs. Ala||A||0.88||1.09||0.81||2||2||0|
|Jevon Carter||vs. Marsh||A+||0.95||1.10||0.86||4||0||5|
Landale was solid on offense, with 7 of 12 shooting and five offensive rebounds to be worth 1.52 points per time he had the ball - however he did not have the ball that much and his 14 points performance was actually not as strong as Carter running the offense with the same 1.52 rating, or even Bridges 1.24 but handling the ball a lot more to dominate the second half against Alabama.
Carter hit 5 of 7 three-pointers en route to 28 points, and Bridges scored only one first half point before taking over to finish with 5 of 8 three-pointers for 23 points. Once again an A+ for Carter and an A for Bridges, while Landale was very efficient but just not enough touches.
|Best Offense||Off Grade||Offense||Opposing Def||How Good?|
|Jock Landale||vs. Wash||B||1.52||1.00||1.52|
|Mikal Bridges||vs. Ala||A||1.24||0.95||1.31|
|Jevon Carter||vs. Marsh||A+||1.52||1.03||1.48|
Put it all together, and on both offense and defense, Carter and Bridges are surging heading into their showdown Friday, while Landale needs to get the ball more on offense and play tougher defense tonight to stay ahead of them in this 5-player race to determine who is the Most Valuable Player in the country.
99th Percentile Bracket
My Tuesday speech asking Senators to pass a resolution was pre-empted by a Senator shouting out, “Don’t tell me you had a basketball bracket in the 99th percentile after all these upsets!” Yes, here is the link to the www.valueaddbasketball.com bracket that is currently 150,000th out of 17.3 million and could still be correct in 12 of the final 15 games.
So here it is. Among the possible methods for approaching a bracket, we noted the most important under the header, “March Madness: Top Team Value Adds Adjusted for Injuries, Returning Players (Most Important).” This looked at all key injuries and chose games based on the Value Add of the current roster and then provided two columns with suggested picks:
- Overall Value/Upsets went with the higher Value Add and is currently in the 88th percentile, and
- “Take Upsets in tight” gave any toss-up games – within a point either way – to the worse seed to account for the “hunter” having an edge over the hunted in the toss-up games.
The first column put your bracket in the 89th percentile – with 24 of 32 in the first round and 8 of 16 picks in the second round.
However, the second column is above the 99th percentile with 24 of 32 in the first round but 10 of 16 in the second round for 440 points and another 1120 potential points left due to 12 more potential wins in 15 games culminating with a predicted 76-71 Villanova win over Kentucky in the championship.
We provided these three Value Add-based brackets along with several other methods in a Breitbart piece, and then in the link to that story to adjust for late-breaking injuries before the tournament started, and then plugged the final picks into the ESPN group, where you can see the rankings after future games are completed.
|RANK||Pudner Value Add||R64||R32||Champ||PPR||TOTAL||PCT|
|1||Upset if lower seed close||240||200||Villanova||1120||440||99.1|
|4||Value Add All-Amer, Top 3||240||160||Villanova||800||400||88.8|
|6||Pudner's MASTER COMPOSITE||210||160||Villanova||800||370||65.7|
|7||Best Coaches Pull Thru||190||160||Villanova||720||350||43.8|
|9||Mismatch (3pts, OR, Stl)||200||80||Villanova||800||280||8.3|
The two competing bracket methods that did not work were based on assuming more experience coaches can overcome a team with a little more Value Add (just below average at 44th percentile) and even worse seeing if a mismatch in one component of the game such as three-pointers, steals or offensive rebounds could lead to upsets (a pathetic 8th percentile). That mismatch also held the Composite down to the 66th percentile.
Relying on the most NBA talent yielded a below average bracket (44th percentile), HOWEVER, it could improve dramatically if it’s prediction of Duke defeating Kentucky in the championship holds true.
The other three adjustments to the bracket based on Value Add after injuries have been very strong, with a tweak for the Hottest teams currently in the 96th percentile, and tweaks for more experienced guards in the 93rd percentile, and finally going with the team with the three best Value Add players in the 89th percentile.
The lesson once again is to rely heavily upon Value Add for your brackets – and while tweaks based on experienced guards or finishing the season strong are fine – adjusting for coaches or style of play will only hurt your bracket or worse yet your favorite conference generally costs you wins. Stick with Value Add.
As for the Value Add bracket that is behind on 150,000 brackets, and ahead of 17.1 million brackets for the 99.1 percentile, here are the 12 wins still possible from the final 15 games.
Kentucky 3 More (vs. Kansas State, Gonzaga-Michigan, then Final 4)
(Did not have Loyola or Nevada)
Gonzaga 1 more (vs. Florida State)
Michigan 2 more (vs. Texas A&M then Gonzaga-FSU)
Villanova 4 more (vs. West Virginia, Texas Tech-Purdue, then 2 in Final Four)
Purdue 1 more (vs. Texas Tech)
Kansas 1 more (vs. Clemson)
(Did not have Duke or Syracuse)