In late January, we debuted a concept that we dubbed the “Championship Arc.”
The premise was that when you graph the pre-NCAA Tournament adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency of past national champions, most past title winners fall along – or inside – of a statistical arc that represents elite offensive and defensive play.
Sure, there are exceptions like UConn in 2011 and 2014 but most national champions fit a similar statistical profile.
Adjusted efficiency measures how many points a team scores and surrenders, on average, per 100 possessions.
Generally speaking, most national champions this century have had an adjusted offensive efficiency of at least 114 (meaning they average at least 114 points per 100 offensive possessions) and an adjusted defensive efficiency that’s better than 95 (meaning they allow 95 or fewer points per 100 defensive possessions).
Here’s a look at how the best teams this season compare to the pre-NCAA Tournament adjusted efficiency of the last 17 national champions (since the start of kenpom.com).
Past national champions are marked with a yellow dot and current teams are marked with a blue dot.
The Championship Arc connects two national championship extremes: defensively elite 2013 Louisville and offensively elite 2018 Villanova. You can connect the dots from 2013 Louisville to 2004 UConn to 2002 Maryland/2016 Villanova to 2007 Florida, etc.
[RELATED: Stadium’s Latest NCAA Tournament Projections]
You get the picture. If not, we drew the Championship Arc below.
If we subscribe to our own theory that the national champion will likely fall on or inside the Championship Arc, one of the following nine teams will win the 2019 national championship: Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky or Purdue.
A few teams, like Texas Tech and Virginia Tech are just outside of the arc. The Red Raiders have the No. 1 defense in the country and the Hokies have the No. 8 offense but it’s each team’s play on the other end of the floor that leave them just outside the arc.
Texas Tech’s offense is much-improved in the last month and it’s ranked No. 34 in terms of efficiency. Virginia Tech’s defense is ranked No. 32 nationally, so the Red Raiders and Hokies are two prime candidates of teams outside of the Championship Arc that could theoretically win the national championship.
The nine national championship contenders are listed below in descending order of adjusted efficiency margin. Adjusted efficiency margin is calculated by subtracting adjusted defensive efficiency from adjusted offensive efficiency.
The numbers below are from Sunday morning, courtesy of kenpom.com.
The NCAA Tournament seed projections are from Stadium’s latest projections that were published Friday.
|Team||Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (AdjOE)||AdjOE Rank||Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (AdjDE)||AdjDE Rank||Adjusted Efficiency Margin||Projected Seed|
|Virginia||123.5||No. 2||86.8||No. 3||+36.66||No. 1|
|Gonzaga||127.2||No. 1||92.5||No. 15||+34.72||No. 1|
|Duke||119.8||No. 6||88.0||No. 7||+31.82||No. 1|
|Michigan State||121.2||No. 4||90.5||No. 9||+30.73||No. 2|
|North Carolina||119.6||No. 7||90.8||No. 11||+28.80||No. 2|
|Michigan||114.9||No. 18||86.8||No. 2||+28.13||No. 2|
|Tennessee||121.9||No. 3||94.0||No. 26||+27.92||No. 2|
|Kentucky||117.4||No. 13||90.2||No. 8||+27.17||No. 1|
|Purdue||120.8||No. 5||94.3||No. 30||+26.58||No. 3|
If recent historical trends continue, the 2019 national champion is listed in the table above and the ACC, Big Ten and SEC have multiple teams capable of cutting down the nets on the second Monday in April.