LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It was only a matter of time before some big-name outfit put Pete Tiernan to work for its own March Madness coverage. His blog, Bracketscience.com, has long been the definitive site for analyzing the NCAA Tournament once it begins.
Now, he's doing his work for CBSSports.com. The thing I like about his work is that it's focused not on who is going to be in the tournament -- but what happens once the teams get there.
One of the things he does that I like is run each team through a filter of championship success. He comes up with a number of factors that past champions have had in common -- or in this case a list of factors that can trip teams up -- then determines which current teams also possess (or don't possess) those factors.
In his most recent post, Tiernan identifies 12 different factors, any one of which can be called a "disqualifier" for a championship.
The questions he asks: Did they go to last year's tourney? How many tourney trips has the coach made (3 or more is the championship factor)? Is their coach an historical overachiever or not? What's their conference affiliation? Strength of schedule? Possession-based Pythagorean ranking? Offensive efficiency rating? Defensive efficiency rating? Scoring average? Average scoring margin? Current momentum?
Tiernan has found statistical markers for every question, and can use those to narrow his list of "potential champions."
Right now, at the end of the regular season, there are only two schools who meet every criteria without falling short of any criteria.
The Duke Blue Devils. The Louisville Cardinals.
Three schools fall short on only one of the criteria (Indiana, Ohio State and Kansas).
Now, the 12-factor test isn't his hard-and-fast championship criteria filter. For that, he uses eight history-proven factors that the past dozen national champions have all possessed: A 1, 2, or 3 seed. A member of a power conference. Went to the prior year's tourney or possess an All-American. Coach has at least five tourney trips and at least one Elite Eight run. Average more than 73 points a game and give up fewer than 73 points a game. Have an average winning margin of more than seven points and a strength of schedule among the Top 75 in the country.
Only five teams in the nation possess all those traits heading into conference tourney play: Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan and Kansas.
Interesting stuff. We'll see if history holds up in what is expected to be a particularly unpredictable year.