The Pi-Rate Ratings

April 4, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Championship Game Preview

Monday, April 4, 2022
KansasNorth Carolina5.2

The Bracketnomics Review

For the second year in a row and 7th time in the last 11 years, our pre-tournament choice to win the National Championship has made the title game. Last year, we pegged Gonzaga to go all the way, and the Bulldogs came up one game short against Baylor.

This year, we selected Kansas as the team that most perfectly fit the bill in PiRate Bracketnomics. Obviously, you know already that this bracketnomics breakdown will favor Bill Self’s Jayhawks, because there was a reason we chose Kansas from among the 68 teams in the Big Dance to cut the nets down while “One Shining Moment” played on the screen. Let’s look at all the Bracketnomics Factors for this game, starting with the primary data.

B1: Offensive and Defensive Efficiency: Teams that finish in the top 10 in offensive efficiency and top 20 in defensive efficiency have a championship resume. Give a little more notice to the offensive efficiency.

Kansas Offensive Efficiency = 6 / North Carolina Offensive Efficiency = 18

Kansas Defensive Efficiency = 17 / North Carolina Defensive Efficiency = 39

Baylor Last Year: Offense 2 / Defense 22

Virginia in 2019: Offense 2 / Defense 5

Villanova 2018: Offense 1 / Defense 11

North Carolina 2017: Offense 9 / Defense 11

Villanova 2016: Offense 3 / Defense 5

Duke 2015: Offense 3 / Defense 11

You get the picture: Kansas fits the National Champions’ efficiency ratings criteria. North Carolina does not. The one caveat is that Connecticut twice won the title with efficiency ratings outside of the norm. No other team in the last 30 years won the title with numbers outside this norm. Kansas has the significant advantage.

B2: Schedule Strength: All national champions in the 64 to 68-team tournament era have had a schedule strength in the top 40 or above 55.0 in my PiRate Schedule Strength numbers.

Kansas has the #2 strength of schedule at 62.15. North Carolina has the #21 strength of schedule at 59.71. KU’s schedule has been about 2 1/2 points per game stronger than North Carolina’s, which is a minimal advantage.

B3: A 3-point percentage of 37% or better. This stat may need to be adjusted slightly down, because this percentage was first isolated before the 3-point line moved back a few inches.

Kansas 3 pt%: 36.1

North Carolina 3 pt%: 36.1

Obviously, this is a wash as both teams shoot the same percentage. Carolina takes more 3-pointers, but this factor only cares about percentages. If a team gets hot from behind the arc, the opponent must stretch its defense. If teams cannot hit from outside, opposing defenses can pack it in and take away the paint.

B4: Offensive Rebound %: The number 37 is important in multiple Bracketnomics factors. If a team has a 37% OReb%, they are getting 3 offensive rebounds for every 8 missed shots. In NCAA Tournament games, where teams tend to shoot below their average due to opposing defensive strength, getting 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chances to score on a possession is vital.

Kansas OReb%: 33.2

North Carolina OReb%: 31.3

Neither team reaches the magic number of 37, but both are quite strong. Kansas has a very slight advantage, but when combined with a very slight schedule strength advantage, this stat is meaningful.

B5: Defensive 2-point Field Goal Percentage: When a team holds opponents to a 2-point field goal percentage below 45%, their defense is champion tough.

Kansas 2ptD%: 46.7

North Carolina 2ptD%: 47.6

Neither team reaches the magic number, but Kansas has the superior number (not by much). What this means is that the big men on both teams should score significant points in the paint, and the quick guards should get some open shots. It could mean that this game will see a higher score than the average championship game.

B6: FT Rate of 37 or better: When a team has a FT Rate (FTA/FGA) of 37 or higher, it means that their offense is potent and forces defensive players to foul a lot so as not to give up easy shots. Making foul shots is great, but forcing fouls is the key part. Not only does this get players in foul trouble, it indicates that the defense cannot properly guard the offense. Although it is not part of this factor, defensive FT Rate should be monitored, because low FT Rates mean the defense can stop offenses.

Kansas FT Rate: 32.7

North Carolina FT Rate: 30.3

Once again, neither team reaches the 37% mark, but once again, Kansas has the slight advantage.

B7: R+T Rating: If this is your first visit to this site, R+T Rating is a statistic created by the PiRate Ratings to estimate potential “spurtability.” This is an evolving statistic, as the formula has been tweaked a few times over the years, and at the present time, there are two different R+T ratings–one using rate stats and one using counting stats.

Kansas R+T Ratings: Rate 6.2/Counting 13.8

North Carolina R+T Ratings: Rate 10.1/Counting 16.7

At last, North Carolina has an edge in something, and it is an important edge and the one area where the Tar Heels could capitalize enough to win the game. With an estimated three additional potential scoring spurts, if just one of the spurts resembles the 11-0 run the Heels made in 90 seconds against Duke Saturday night, North Carolina could open a sizable lead if the game is close when it happens.

Secondary Bracketnomics Factors

Note: These factors are lesser in importance than the primary factors but still important

B8: Scoring Margin: National Champions have scoring margins of 8 or more points, and most have double-digit scoring margins. They get to this point by dominating opponents–not by winning a bunch of 2-point games.

Kansas Scoring Margin: 11.2

North Carolina Scoring Margin: 6.8

Kansas has the distinct advantage.

B9: Field Goal Percentage Margin: When a team shoots an overall FG% margin of 8% or more, they are dominating in the most important factor of the game–putting the ball in the basket and preventing the other team from doing so. It that margin is 10% or more, you are looking at a truly dominating team.

Kansas FG% Margin: 7.0

North Carolina FG% Margin: 2.6

Neither team reaches 8%, but Kansas is close, while UNC has a small positive margin. KU gets the advantage here.

B10: A Winning Streak of 10 or more games or two of 6 or more games. To be the national champion, a team must beat 6 (or 7) other tournament teams without losing. Should one expect a team to do this if they couldn’t beat 6 or 7 teams in a row during the regular season? If a team had a 10-game winning streak or two winning streaks of 6 or more games, they played consistently for long stretches.

Kansas currently has a 10-game winning streak and had an 8-game winning streak earlier in the season.

North Carolina had one 6-game winning streak at the end of the regular season when their at-large hopes were far back in Bubbleville. They have won 11 of their last 12 games.

Kansas gets the advantage here, but it is minor.

B11: A Regular Season or Conference Tournament Championship. Almost all past national champions won either their regular season or conference tournament championship.

Kansas was Big 12 co-champions and won the Big 12 Conference Tournament.

North Carolina did not win either.
Kansas gets the advantage here.

Tertiary Factors

Note: These factors are the least important of the Bracketnomics factors, but they are still useful, because they appear in past champion resumes.

B12: A Head Coach With Past NCAA Tournament Experience. If a coach has taken multiple teams to the NCAA Tournamnt and has enjoyed success when he got there, it is worth a little extra against coaches that do not have this experience.

Kansas Coach Bill Self is coaching in his 23rd NCAA Tournament and 3rd Championship Game.

North Carolina Coach Hubert Davis has considerable experience as a player and assistant coach, but this is his first year as a head coach.

Who was the last first year coach to coach his team for an entire season and win the NCAA Championship? It was Ed Jucker at Cincinnati in 1961. Kansas gets another small advantage.

B13: Player Experience: A team with a lot of upperclassmen with playing experience tends to perform better on the national stage than a team with mostly underclassmen. How many seniors and juniors are in the top 8 of the roster?

Kansas has 5 seniors and 2 juniors among their top 8.

North Carolina has 2 seniors and 1 junior among their top 8.

Yet again, KU has a small advantage, but their roster is older than an NBA expansion team.

B14: A Clutch Player or 3 Go-To Players: When a team needs a crucial score late in the game, do they have a player that can get if for them? Or, does the team have three players not afraid to shoot that shot? Think of Michael Jordan in the 1982 Championship Game or Keith Smart in the 1987 Championship Game. You have no doubt seen a team panic in the final seconds and not even get a real shot when they needed somebody to step up.

Kansas definitely has a clutch shooter not afraid to take the basketball and take that shot. Senior Ochai Agbaji will carry KU on his back in crucial moments and deliver the goods.

North Carolina has three players that can take this final shot, even if none are like Agbaji. Brady Manek and Caleb Love can score at the end of tight games–Manek from the outside and Love in the paint. Big man Armando Bacot is the key player that can tip in a missed shot to win at the buzzer.

This is a wash, as both teams can potentially win on buzzer beaters.

B15: A Dominating Inside Presence. Championship teams have a post player or multiple post players that can stop opponent penetration but more importantly can score and rebound in the paint. The key stats are for one post player to score 12 points and average 7 rebounds per game, or to have two big men team for 20 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Kansas has two big men, David McCormack and Jalen Wilson, that team for 21.5 points and 14.4 rebounds per game. This meets the requirement.

North Carolina meets this requirement both ways. Bacot averages 16.3 and 13.1, while Bacot and Manek team for 31.5 and 19.0.

While both teams satisfy this requirement, Carolina has the overall advantage with Bacot, but only if he is close to 100% after spraining an ankle Saturday night.

B16: 4 Double Figure Scorers. When a team has 4 or more players that average double figure points per game, you might be able to stop one or two, but more than likely one or two will have a big game. If a team has only one big scorer, slowing him down can crush that team’s offense.

Both teams have 4 double figure scorers, and this has the look of a game that should be a bit higher scoring than an average National Championship Game.

Final Judgment

Both teams have avenues to exploit the other team, but Kansas has more assets and less liabilities in this game. We selected the Jayhawks to go all the way three weeks ago, and we’re sticking by that choice. Our game prediction is:

Kansas 81 North Carolina 75

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