The NCAA March Madness bracket has been set and through Kenpom Metrics there is some stats to begin narrowing down a potential March Madness champion.
March Madness Potential Champions Based On Kenpom Metrics
It’s finally here. Selection Sunday. One of my favorite days of the year as nothing brings me more joy than the release of the bracket. Last week I laid out a road map for who is most likely to cut down the nets per Kenpom’s historic metrics, now revisiting those said teams to see how they stack up today. Before that, a quick refresher on how Kenpom’s metrics work.
Kenpom is an advanced projection website for college basketball that was created by Ken Pomeroy. Since its establishment, the website has been a viable tool to determine a National Champion. The teams that fit that metric have a top-25 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency while their Adjusted Defensive Efficiency combines for less than 50.
Please note that it’s not 100% foolproof as one team has been able to break the mold. The Shabazz Napier-led Connecticut Huskies have been the lone team to win it all outside of Kenpom’s historic metrics. Can someone outside the Kenpom metrics capture that magic? I will have a piece on that later.
For now, let’s revisit the seven teams who are poised to make a deep run as we near the start of the tournament as well as welcome in a new contender.
March Madness Champion Team Breakdowns
Some made runs, while others sputtered in their Conference tournaments. A recap of every potential champion per Kenpom and who may or may not qualify heading into tournament play.
Houston Cougars +500
It was an unsettling week for the market favorite as the Houston Cougars saw their star player Marcus Sasser go down with a groin injury. Even though he managed to get through warmups, Houston wisely ruled him out in order to avoid injury risk. His production was sorely missed as Memphis cruised to victory to capture the conference title.
Houston’s deep run potential is heavily tied towards Sasser’s health, making this one of the most important storylines to watch as we near play. The odds are already too low for my liking and Sassar dealing with a nagging injury makes this an immediate stay away.
— Daniel Gotera (@DTGoteraKHOU) March 12, 2023
No one improved their resume more than the Alabama Crimson Tide, surpassing Kansas and Houston to lock in the number one overall seed. They dominated the SEC conference tournament, dismantling the Aggies in the finals.
Brandon Miller and company are poised for a deep run behind an elite defense and high-powered offense, getting the blessing of a weak region as well. They may not face any resistance until the Elite 8 where Arizona will be looming.
The number is too low for my liking, yet I will come back and monitor their Final Four odds when they come out.
Once thought of the potential number one seed, now having by far the hardest path to the Final Four. The Jayhawks region is a gauntlet, posing as a major issue for deep run potential. They are also the only original seven to not qualify anymore as a historic champ as their AdjO has dipped to 29th per Kenpom.
That lack of offense was on full display as the Texas Longhorns dismantled them from the opening tip. It also doesn’t help that head coach Bill Self is dealing with a medical emergency, yet announced he will return for the tournament.
They were a pass before and they are still a pass now after their AdjO has dipped out of historic national champ territory.
Purdue has slowly become a nationwide fade target as their guards continue to struggle against defensive pressure. Zach Edey can only take them so far with his low post offense, desperately needing the help from his guards to keep possessions alive.
They still qualify as a contender, yet their road may come to a quick end in the second round. The Memphis Tigers have quickly turned into one of my favorite sleepers, bringing a ferocious defense that will give the Boilermakers guards fits all game long.
No team has taken on more bad luck since the start of the conference tournaments than the UCLA Bruins. They took a massive blow with the injury to Jaylen Clark, then doubled down by getting the two seed in the hardest region of the bracket.
They still showed fight by taking the Arizona Wildcats down to the wire in a narrow loss in the Pac 12 Championship. They also benefit from their first true challenge not coming until the Sweet Sixteen with either Gonzaga or TCU waiting to battle it out.
Still, the offense took a massive blow without Clark’s production, and it will be a tough task to replicate the offensive success needed over the course of a deep run.
It pays to be a Lineups reader as the Texas Longhorns are looking every bit as a potential national champion after winning the Big 12 tournament. They dismantled the Kansas Jayhawks in the championship, rounding out as an elite unit on both ends of the court.
Their odds have dipped since the earlier addition of this piece, zapping the value for a national title future. I still like them at +2000 or higher so be sure to shop around for the best price possible.
They are arguably the best team in their region should Sasser not be 100% for Houston, having an easy path to the Elite 8 with a weak bottom half of their bracket. At +2000 or higher, you can start hedging the Longhorns in the Final Four to guarantee a profit. An inexperienced interim coach gives me some worry, yet it’s safe to say he has won the locker room.
Asked why Rodney Terry deserves the permanent Texas job, Marcus Carr, Sir'Jabari Rice and Brock Cunningham all give immense credit to their interim head coach.
— Noah Gross (@noah_gross27) March 12, 2023
Their Kenpom metrics still qualify them as a potential national champion, but I am not feeling nearly as confident as I was in the earlier addition of this article. Their Big East conference tournament games were uninspiring, pulling away from Providence in a seven-point win and narrowly losing to eventual champion Marquette.
It also doesn’t help that they are smack dab in the middle of the hardest region, having to go through the likes of Saint Mary’s, Illinois, Arkansas, Kansas, and UCLA. Still, the number is playable if you did not get on it before and this team is still capable of competing with the best of them.
Arizona +1600 (New Addition)
While I personally only account for the teams who fit the metrics in the regular season, I am giving the Wildcats the recognition they deserve for their impressive strides in success to end the year.
Take it with a grain of salt though as their run concluded with an uninspiring narrow victory against a hobbled UCLA Bruins squad. Their defense has serious issues in defending the middle, potentially getting burned by any team capable of stopping and popping in the middle.
What they do have going for them is that they reside in the easiest region with only Alabama and Creighton posing as a threat. While I am passing on their title odds, I will monitor their Sweet Sixteen and Final Four futures when they come available.