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Why Syracuse,Kentucky seem to have a slight edge

Mar 23, 2012, 8:35 AM EDT

spt-120322-scoop AP

Louisville’s win against Michigan State was Thursday’s most notable result, but it was the outlier where expectations are concerned.

Namely, defensive expectations.

Among the eight teams playing in yesterday’s regional semifinals, the winning teams were rated higher in a significant area on kenpom.com: adjusted offensive efficiency.

The two toss-up games – Syracuse-Wisconsin and Florida-Marquette – pitted teams that were significantly better on offense (Orange, Gators) against a team significantly better on defense. Ohio State-Cincinnati was a game where the Buckeyes rate higher in both areas and played like it. Only the Cardinals were worse on offense entering the game, and won.

Why bring all this up now?

The post over at Team Rankings by Adrian Atkinson (who normally writes at Tobacco Road Blues) makes a compelling case that for a team to win it all, it doesn’t need a dominant defense as some announcers might proclaim. It needs balance. And if it doesn’t have that, a better offense is better to win in March.

That bodes well for the likes of Kentucky and Syracuse, the only two teams still playing who feature an elite offense and defense and those offenses are slightly better than the defenses. (Yeah, that’s a mouthful.)

It should be noted that Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio State also feature elite offenses and defenses. But the defenses are a notch better. Anyway. Interesting post.

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