Photo: AP Images
Sports Illustrated’s excellent college basketball writer Luke Winn has a revealing nugget that says a lot about college basketball in his Elite 8 postmortem today: Each Final Four team this year was the best defensive team in its respective region.Using the defensive efficiency statistic provided by kenpom.com, Winn found that defence is king in the NCAA Tournament. He noted that just four of the last 40 teams to make the Final Four have been ranked outside the top 30 in defensive efficiency.
So what’s it mean?
One conclusion you could draw is that the rise of good defenses in college hoops has been a result of the decline of good offenses. As we saw yesterday when UNC was firing on all cylinders in the first half against Kansas, good offence beats good defence.
But because teams only stay together for a season and good players always leave school early, elite offensive teams are extremely rare. UNC was such a team — a cohesive five-man offensive unit that played together for two seasons and developed a variety of ways to score — before point guard Kendall Marshall got hurt, and the whole thing came apart.
But ultimately this year’s UNC team was so good offensively because Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, and Kendall Marshall all decided to forego the NBA Draft last year. Who knows when that will happen again.
Winn argues that scoring is down because of “tough-to-crack defensive schemes” and “extra-terrestrial shot-blockers.” It’d be interesting to see what would happen if a truly elite, dynamic offence came up against such defenses. But unfortunately no such team exist right now.
For better or worse, defence is king.
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