Whether you believe in the RPI system, the BPI, KenPom, or throwing darts at your bracket sheet, we can all agree that this year’s NCAA Tournament champion could be any number of teams.
When comparing the common traits of previous champions, however, it seems that only one team fits the bill as the likely champion: the Kentucky Wildcats.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, there are certain criteria that have been met over the last 15 years be the majority of champions.
Why believe in Kentucky? History shows they're the best fit to win https://t.co/RYqM4i0533— Michael Eaves (@michaeleaves) March 15, 2017
- Top-3 Seed
14 of the last 15 national champions have been a 3 seed or better in their region. The only exception? You guessed it, the No. 7 UConn Huskies that beat Kentucky in the 2014 title game.
- Lottery Picks
During this time span, 11 national champions have had at least one NBA lottery pick on the roster. Several teams have had multiple players taken in the lottery. This Kentucky team has at least two (De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk).
- Strong Efficiency Numbers
12 of the champions on this list were in the top 6 in KenPom’s net efficiency rating entering the tournament. Again, UConn messes up the curve as both of their recent champions finished outside the top six as well as Carmelo Anthony’s Syracuse squad. This Kentucky team enters the tournament at no. 4 this season.
- Strong Schedule
Every single team that has won a championship in the last 15 years has had a top-40 ranking in the KenPom strength of schedule list. Kentucky comes in at 30.
- Conference Tournament
Perhaps this metric was just added to eliminate the only remaining non-Kentucky team (Kansas Jayhawks), but no team has ever won the national championship after losing the first round of their conference tournament. Kentucky rolled to it’s 30th SEC Tournament Championship, so obviously it meets this qualification.
Not only do the Wildcats meet all of this criteria, but they are the ONLY team in the field that does.
Does this give you any more confidence about Kentucky’s ability to bring home number 9?