While we've broken down seven factors that can give a team a chance for an upset in March Madness, we finish with by far the most important factor - who is the best team on the court in each game?
The best team doesn't always win, but they win two-thirds of the team.
If course the first place people should go as a starting point is www.kenpom.com, who revolutionized analytics. However, I do suggest people also go to www.valueaddbasketball.com for one reason - it breaks the ratings down to each player on a team so that you know how much an injured player will hurt them or who much better their rating would be with a player who has returned.
The following rankings for all teams who will (or in a few cases might) make the tournament are based on the following:
1. VA5 indicates the sum of the player rankings at www.valueaddbasketball.com - which is similar to www.kenpom.com but represent more than a point (e.g. Gonzaga is a 51.97 here and a 32.97) mainly because our math indicates players on good teams would be even more valuable if the could play more.
2. Then the big difference is the "healthy" column. If that number is 0 then there is no adjustment because there have been no major injuries. However, if that number is a positive number then it is added to the first number because it indicates the team's ranking is actually higher when a player who misses some games is back. However, a negative number means the team is missing a key player or players so is actually not as good as their www.kenpom.com or raw www.valueaddkbasketball.com ranking would indicate.
The two really tough variables are from the Big Ten. Both Illinois and Ohio State have key players that might or might not be ready to play in the tournament, so look at the notes on them in particular and move them up or down several spots based on monitoring those key injuries at this site.
The following are the most important numbers if you only read one of these blogs.
|Rnk||Team||VA 5||Healthy?||Team on Court||Notes on injuries, or players who were out|
|2||UCLA||47.33||2.51||49.84||Despite their loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, the fact that Jaylen Clark, Cody Riley and Johnny Juzang all appear to be healthy pushes them to the No. 2 team on the court.|
|4||Texas Tech||43||2.22||45.22||With Kevin McCullar and Terrence Shannon back, Texas Tech is loaded again.|
|5||Houston||46.18||-1.3||44.88||The drop of Houston assumes Marcus Sasser is not coming back.|
|10||Tennessee||43.51||-1.32||42.19||As great as they have been, they are hurt by Olivier Nkamhoua being out.|
|16||Baylor||44.85||-6.69||38.16||The defending champs are the most hurt, with both Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and LJ Cryer out.|
|18||Illinois||38.82||-1.3||37.52||if Jacob Grandison's shoulder is ok and he plays, this improves by 2.3, if not drop it by 2.3 - so one of two big question marks.|
|22||San Diego St.||36.36||0||36.36|
|24||Texas||37.31||-1.68||35.63||This drop assumes Tre Mitchell does not return - if he does they go back up to a 37.31.|
|27||North Carolina||36.43||-1.03||35.4||No word on Dawson Garcia, so assuming he is out for the season.|
|28||Memphis||32.86||1.84||34.7||As disappointing as Memphis has been with all that talent, if they win the American tomorrow with Jalen Duren and DeAndre Williams playing, they could be a scary first round game.|
|46||Seton Hall||32.18||-2.3||29.88||Bryce Aiken's concussion has kept him out for a while, one of the biggest injuries and they would shoot up several spots if he returned.|
|51||Ohio St.||33.15||-4.1||29.05||Key is if Kyle Young and Zed Key are back. If not -8.2 instead of -4.1, but if back take the -4.1 away. They would move all the way up to 33rd if both are back, but drop to 60th if not - so I split the difference here.|
|53||Creighton||29.85||-1.43||28.42||All know Ryan Nembhard's injury hurts, but if Trey Alexander keeps playing well in his place, the inside outside with Ryan Kalkbrenner - who now ranks on the verge of All-American as the 17th best player in the country - can still make them lethal.|
|54||Chattanooga||27.48||0.75||28.23||Gillespie's only competition for 1st team All-American PG is this Malachi Smith (there is another one at Dayton), and with Silvio De Sousa back they are stronger.|
|57||South Dakota St.||28||0||28|
|59||New Mexico St.||25.49||0||25.49|
|61||Long Beach St.||22.46||0||22.46|
|62||Georgia St.||19.79||1.4||21.19||They will be a big underdog, but with one of their two players in the top 10% of all players, Eliel Nsoseme, back they will be a stronger challenge.|
|68||Bryant||17.1||0.72||17.82||Bryant would have ranked higher if Hall Elisias didn't miss games, but he is back now.|
|72||Cal St. Fullerton||17.21||0||17.21|
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