– Posted by Zurg –
Led by Player of the Year frontrunner Doug McDermott, the Creighton Bluejays have made a splash in its first year as a member of the Big East. Leading the Big East standings, Creighton has battled so far this season on both sides of the floor. Let’s look at just how rare this season has been for the team from Omaha – and how far its season is likely to go:
Creighton is currently ranked #4 overall on KenPom.com, made up by the nation’s second best offensive efficiency and 62nd best defensive efficiency.
10 of the last 11 National Champions were rated in the top five overall on KenPom.
Of those last 11 Champions, the lowest rated defensive team was 2009 North Carolina (1st overall, 1st offensively, 21st defensively).
The lowest rated offensive team to win? 2011 Connecticut (9th overall, 18th offensively, 13th defensively).
In the Big East this season, Creighton leads in Offensive Efficiency, effective Field Goal Percentage, 2 Point Field Goal Percentage, and 3 Point Field Goal Percentage. Since 2003, no Big East team has finished the season leading in all of these categories.
Surprisingly, Creighton also leads the Big East in Defensive Efficiency and is second in defensive effective Field Goal Percentage during conference play. The only other team to lead the conference in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency was 2012 Syracuse (Lost in the Elite Eight to Ohio State).
In terms of just making the Final Four, Creighton fits more into the mold. Teams that make the Final Four (but do not win the National Championship) are more likely to have disparity between overall offensive and defensive efficiencies. 2012 Louisville was rated 116th offensively and 1st defensively, while 2003 Marquette made the Final Four with the 2nd best offensive efficiency and 119th rated defensively efficiency.
This chart looks at every team that has made the Final Four since 2003, graphing them by their KenPom offensive and defensive efficiencies.
The equation shown on the graph is a trendline that calculates the Defensive Efficiency (“Y Axis”) to correspond with an Offensive Rating (“X Axis”) that ends up making a team most likely to make the Final Four.
For example this year’s Arizona team is rated 17th overall offensively. Based on the results since 2003, using this formula, you can determine Arizona will need a Defensive Efficiency ranked better than 17th in the country to have its best chance to make the Final Four. As of today, Arizona ranks 3rd defensively – and is a strong Final Four candidate.
Back to the point of the article, let’s look at Creighton:
Creighton is the 2nd rated offensive team in the country. Using the trendline formula based on results of the last decade, Creighton will need to have a Defensive Efficiency ranked better than 22nd nationally. Today, Creighton’s defense is rated 62nd.
That is not to say it is impossible for Creighton to advance to the Final Four. As you can see on the chart, there are plenty of teams that have beaten the odds. It is just more likely Creighton will advance to the final weekend of the college basketball season with a defense rated in the top 22 in the nation.
Just for fun, let’s look at where other Big East teams will have to rank defensively based on their Offensive Efficiency to have a solid shot at the Final Four:
Villanova: Rated 10th Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 19 (Currently: 28th)
Xavier: Rated 24th Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 15 (Currently: 69th)
Providence: Rated 61st Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 6 (Currently: 59th)
Seton Hall: Rated 82nd Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 3 (Currently: 114th)
Marquette: Rated 94th Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 2 (Currently: 94th)
Georgetown: Rated 104th Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 2 (Currently: 65th)
St. John’s: Rated 117th Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 2 (Currently: 38th)
DePaul: Rated 118th Offensively; Needs a Defensive Efficiency in the Top 2 (Currently: 183rd)
Butler: Rated 166th Offensively; Needs the top Defensive Efficiency (Currently: 85th)