What History Tells Us About This Year’s Final Four Candidates

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Digging into the past is sometimes the best way to predict the future. From now until Selection Sunday, I will be making frequent posts and tidbits on what we can expect in this year’s NCAA Tournament, in hopes of creating the elusive perfect bracket.

I assessed the statistics from each of the last six year’s Final Four teams, and here is what I found:

  1. Of the past 24 Final Four teams, only one (2012 Louisville) was not ranked in the top 50 nationally in offensive efficiency. Eighteen of the 24 ranked in the top 25.
  2. Of the past 24 Final Four teams, just two did not rank in the top 40 nationally in defensive efficiency. Seventeen of the 24 ranked in the top 20.
  3. Twenty of the past 24 Final Four teams have finished in the top 100 in opponent effective field goal percentage.
  4. Fifteen of the past 24 Final Four teams have ranked in the top 80 in turnover percentage.
  5. Eighteen of the past 24 Final Four teams have ranked in the top 100 in opponent free throw attempt frequency.
  6. More teams have finished worse than 100th in opponent three-point percentage than in the top 50. Sixteen of the past 24 Final Four teams, however, have ranked in the top 100.
  7. Nineteen of the past 24 Final Four teams have ranked in top 75 in opponent two-point field goal percentage.
  8. Twenty-two of the past 24 Final Four teams have ranked in the top 30 in strength of schedule. The only exceptions are Butler and VCU, two of the greatest Cinderellas in NCAA Tournament history.

So who best fits the criteria this season? Here’s a quick list:

  1. Villanova
  2. Virginia
  3. Baylor
  4. Kentucky
  5. Iowa State
  6. Florida

The Iowa State inclusion is unexpected, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of the other five teams in April this season. We’ll see how it shapes out.

More on the way.