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How Important is Defense in a March Madness Run?

How Important is Defense in a March Madness Run?

When it comes to making a deep run in March Madness, how does having a top-ranking defense pan out?
How Important is Defense in a March Madness Run?

Because it’s too massive to include in any article, if you want to scan through my research, you can download the Excel file below. It covers All Teams, Sweet 16 vs Worse, Breakdown by Round, and All Final Four.

Sweet 16 or Better

2018 (5/9)

3. Michigan – NCG (3-seed, 7 OVA, 35 OFF, 1C)

4. Texas Tech – Elite Eight (3-seed, 11 OVA, 50 OFF, 1C)

5. Syracuse – Sweet 16 (11-seed, 41 OVA, 135 OFF, 2*)

7. Clemson – Sweet 16 (5-seed, 14 OVA, 44 OFF, 1)

9. Duke – Elite Eight (2-seed, 3 OVA, 3 OFF, 1)

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2017 (6/8)

1. Gonzaga – NCG (1-seed, 1 OVA, 16 OFF, 1C)

3. South Carolina – Final Four (7-seed, 24 OVA, 91 OFF, 1*)

4. West Virginia – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 7 OVA, 26 OFF, 1*)

5. Florida – Elite Eight (4-seed, 5 OVA, 25 OFF, 7*)

7. Kentucky – Elite Eight (2-seed, 4 OVA, 12 OFF, 1C)

9. Wisconsin – Sweet 16 (8-seed, 21 OVA, 33 OFF, 4*)

2016 (4/7)

3. Kansas – Elite Eight (1-seed, 3 OVA, 10 OFF, 2*)

5. Villanova – National Champs (2-seed, 1 OVA, 3 OFF)

7. Virginia – Elite Eight (1-seed, 4 OVA, 8 OFF, 10)

9. Texas A&M – Sweet 16 (3-seed, 18 OVA, 37 OFF, 2)

2015 (5/9)

1. Kentucky – Final Four (1-seed, 1 OVA, 6 OFF, 1)

3. Arizona – Elite Eight (2-seed, 4 OVA, 7 OFF, 1)

4. Louisville – Elite Eight (4-seed, 17 OVA, 66 OFF, 7)

6. Utah – Sweet 16 (5-seed, 8 OVA, 17 OFF, 1C)

7. Oklahoma – Sweet 16 (3-seed, 11 OVA, 46 OFF, 7)

2014 (6/10)

1. Arizona – Elite Eight (1-seed, 2 OVA, 20 OFF, 2)

3. Florida – Final Four (1-seed, 3 OVA, 19 OFF, 7C)

4. Virginia – Sweet 16 (1-seed, 4 OVA, 27 OFF, 4)

5. Louisville – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 1 OVA, 7 OFF, 8)

7. San Diego State – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 23 OVA, 86 OFF, 1*)

10. Connecticut – National Champs (7-seed, 15 OVA, 39 OFF)

2013 (6/9)

1. Louisville – National Champs (1-seed, 1 OVA, 7 OFF)

3. Florida – Elite Eight (3-seed, 2 OVA, 9 OFF, 4)

5. Kansas – Sweet 16 (1-seed, 8 OVA, 27 OFF, 4)

6. Syracuse – Final Four (4-seed, 9 OVA, 26 OFF, 4)

7. Michigan State – Sweet 16 (3-seed, 10 OVA, 29 OFF, 2)

9. Ohio State – Elite Eight (2-seed, 7 OVA, 14 OFF, 9)

2012 (6/10)

1. Louisville – Final Four (4-seed, 7 OVA, 112 OFF, 1C*)

2. Michigan State – Sweet 16 (1-seed, 3 OVA, 17 OFF, 4*)

3. Kansas – NCG (2-seed, 4 OVA, 23 OFF, 1C*)

4. Ohio State – Final Four (2-seed, 2 OVA, 6 OFF, 2*)

7. Kentucky – National Champs (1-seed, 1 OVA, 2 OFF)

8. Wisconsin – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 8 OVA, 25 OFF, 1)

2011 (5/8)

1. Florida State – Sweet 16 (10-seed, 35 OVA, 147 OFF, 11)

2. San Diego State – Sweet 16 (2-seed, 8 OVA, 28 OFF, 3C)

5. North Carolina – Elite Eight (2-seed, 15 OVA, 49 OFF, 4)

6. Kansas – Elite Eight (1-seed, 3 OVA, 6 OFF, 11)

9. Duke – Sweet 16 (1-seed, 2 OVA, 5 OFF, 5)

2010 (4/8)

4. Purdue – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 15 OVA, 65 OFF, 1C*)

5. Duke – National Champs (1-seed, 1 OVA, 1 OFF)

6. Kentucky – Elite Eight (1-seed, 4 OVA, 22 OFF, 2)

7. Butler – NCG (5-seed, 12 OVA, 49 OFF, 1C*)

2009 (6/9)

1. Memphis – Sweet 16 (2-seed, 4 OVA, 37 OFF, 3)

2. Louisville – Elite Eight (1-seed, 5 OVA, 49 OFF, 2*)

3. Connecticut – Final Four (1-seed, 2 OVA, 17 OFF, 2*)

5. Purdue – Sweet 16 (5-seed, 18 OVA, 60 OFF, 1*)

6. Michigan State – NCG (2-seed, 9 OVA, 26 OFF, 1C)

10. Villanova – Final Four (3-seed, 13 OVA, 24 OFF, 1C)

2008 (7/9)

1. Kansas – National Champs (1-seed, 1 OVA, 2 OFF)

2. Memphis – NCG (1-seed, 2 OVA, 6 OFF, 1C*)

3. Wisconsin – Sweet 16 (3-seed, 5 OVA, 37 OFF, 10)

4. Louisville – Elite Eight (3-seed, 8 OVA, 40 OFF, 1)

5. UCLA – Final Four (1-seed, 4 OVA, 7 OFF, 1*)

9. Washington State – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 10 OVA, 23 OFF, 1)

10. Stanford – Sweet 16 (3-seed, 12 OVA, 36 OFF, 2)

2007 (5/9)

1. Kansas – Elite Eight (1-seed, 5 OVA, 29 OFF, 2*)

2. UCLA – Final Four (2-seed, 6 OVA, 27 OFF, 1C)

3. Southern Illinois – Sweet 16 (4-seed, 16 OVA, 84 OFF, 1*)

4. North Carolina – Elite Eight (1-seed, 1 OVA, 3 OFF, 2)

10. Memphis – Elite Eight (2-seed, 9 OVA, 28 OFF, 1)

BREAKDOWN OF TOP 10 DEFENSIVE TEAMS SINCE 2002

Overview

Total Teams – 170 over 17 years

National Champs – 10 (58.82% of 17)

NCG – 11 (21) (61.76% of 34)

Final Four – 14 (35) (51.47% of 68)

Elite Eight – 23 (58) (42.65% of 136)

Sweet 16 – 32 (90) (33.09% of 272)

Second Round – 34 (124) (22.79% of 544)

First Round – 27 (151) (13.88% of 1088)

Missed Tournament – 19 teams in total (10 NIT (2 champs, 2 RUs), 2 banned, 7 no postseason) (11.18% of 170 teams)

Deeper Look

Average offensive efficiency ranking for each round:

National Champs – 7.2

NCG – 23.18

Final Four – 30.29

Final Four or Better – 21.46

Elite Eight – 22.43

Elite Eight or Better – 21.84

Sweet 16 – 37.63

Sweet 16 or Better – 27.46

Second Round – 52.62

First Round – 98.04

Second or First Round – 72.72

Highs and Lows

Lowest offensive efficiency of national champion: 2014 Connecticut (113.6, 39th-ranked)

All other national champs finished ranked in the top 10 on offense

Only three teams have made the Final Four with offenses ranked outside of the top 50 (2006 LSU at 62, 2017 South Carolina at 91 and 2012 Louisville at 112)

Only four teams have made the Elite Eight with offenses ranked outside of the top 50 (2006 LSU at 62, 2015 Louisville at 66, 2017 South Carolina at 91 and 2012 Louisville at 112)

Only 10 teams have made the Sweet 16 with offenses ranked outside of the top 50 (2009 Purdue at 60, 2006 LSU at 62, 2010 Purdue at 65, 2015 Louisville at 66, 2007 Southern Illinois at 84, 2014 San Diego State at 86, 2017 South Carolina at 91, 2012 Louisville at 112, 2018 Syracuse at 135 and 2011 Florida State at 147)

35 of 61 (57.34%) teams eliminated in first or second rounds were outside of offense top 50

Percentages

170 total teams finished in the top 10 defensively between the 2001-02 and 2017-18 seasons

2 top 10 defensive teams were banned from postseason play

10 of 168 top 10 defensive teams won the national championship (5.95%)

21 of 168 top 10 defensive teams made the national championship game (12.5%)

35 of 168 top 10 defensive teams made the Final Four (20.83%)

58 of 168 top 10 defensive teams made the Elite Eight (34.52%)

90 of 168 top 10 defensive teams made the Sweet 16 (53.57%)

61 of 168 top 10 defensive teams lost in the first or second rounds (36.31%)

16 top-10 defensive teams eliminated in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight lost to another top 10 defensive team

8 top-10 defensive teams eliminated in the first or second rounds lost to another top 10 defensive team

Upsets

Upsets occur when the winning team is seeded at least three seeds worse than the losing team

37 of 61 first and second round losers were upset (60.66%)

13 of 55 Elite Eight and Sweet 16 losers were upset (23.64%)

Seeds

1 seeds – 38 (6 National Champion (15.79%), 3 National Runner Up (7.89%), 6 Final Four (15.79%), 11 Elite Eight (28.95%), 7 Sweet 16 (18.42%), 4 Second Round (10.53%), 1 First Round (2.63%))

(15 Final Four or Better (39.47%), 18 Elite Eight or Sweet 16 (47.37%), 26 Elite Eight or Better (68.42%), 33 Sweet 16 or Better (86.84%), 5 Second Round or Worse (13.16%))

2 seeds – 28 (2 National Champion (7.14%), 4 National Runner Up (14.29%), 3 Final Four (10.71%), 7 Elite Eight (25%), 3 Sweet 16 (10.71%), 8 Second Round (28.57%), 1 First Round (3.57%))

(9 Final Four or Better (32.14%), 10 Elite Eight or Sweet 16 (35.71%), 16 Elite Eight or Better (57.14%), 19 Sweet 16 or Better (67.86%), 9 Second Round or Worse (32.14%))

3 seeds – 20 (1 National Champion (5%), 2 National Runner Up (10%), 1 Final Four (5%), 3 Elite Eight (15%), 6 Sweet 16 (30%), 5 Second Round (25%), 2 First Round (10%))

(4 Final Four or Better (20%), 9 Elite Eight or Sweet 16 (45%), 7 Elite Eight or Better (35%), 13 Sweet 16 or Better (65%), 7 Second Round or Worse (35%))

4 seeds – 19 (3 Final Four (15.79%), 2 Elite Eight (10.53%), 8 Sweet 16 (42.11%), 5 Second Round (26.32%), 2 First Round (10.53%))

(3 Final Four or Better (15.79%), 10 Elite Eight or Sweet 16 (52.63%), 5 Elite Eight or Better (26.32%), 13 Sweet 16 or Better (68.42%), 7 Second Round or Worse (36.84%))

5 seeds – 18 (2 National Runner Up (11.11%), 4 Sweet 16 (22.22%), 4 Second Round (22.22%), 8 First Round (44.44%))

(2 Final Four or Better (11.11%), 4 Elite Eight or Sweet 16 (22.22%), 2 Elite Eight or Better (11.11%), 6 Sweet 16 or Better (27.78%), 12 Second Round or Worse (66.67%))

6 seeds – 7 (1 Sweet 16 (14.29%), 3 Second Round (42.86%), 3 First Round (42.86%))

7 seeds – 3 (1 National Champion (33.33%), 1 Final Four (33.33%), 1 First Round (33.33%))

8 seeds – 3 (1 Sweet 16 (33.33%), 1 Second Round (33.33%), 1 First Round (33.33%))

9 seeds – 3 (1 Second Round (33.33%), 2 First Round (66.67%))

10 seeds – 3 (1 Sweet 16 (33.33%), 2 First Round (66.67%))

11 seeds – 5 (1 Sweet 16 (20%), 2 Second Round (40%), 2 First Round (40%))

12 seeds – 2 (1 Second Round (50%), 1 First Round (50%))

14 seeds – 1 (1 First Round (100%))

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