Recent history also has shown that a champion must have a top-flight point guard. Gonzaga has one of those in Josh Perkins.
Who cuts down the nets in the NCAA Tournament on April 8 from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis? We don’t know the answer but have a pretty good idea which group of teams the champion will come from.
March Madness Betting Prediction: NCAA Tournament Bracket
We’ll try not to overwhelm with numbers here, but when picking the 2019 national champion in men’s basketball, it’s important to get to know Ken Pomeroy’s statistical rankings. He’s the creator of the website and statistical archive Kenpom.com. It’s a must-check for any bettor.
Pomeroy ranks Virginia as the No. 1 overall team in the nation with Gonzaga No. 2 and Duke No. 3 – those three schools all got No. 1 seeds in this year’s Big Dance. The fourth went to North Carolina, which is ranked sixth behind the trio listed, Michigan State and Michigan (both No. 2 seeds).
Nine of the last 11 national champions finished with a top-seven offence by Pomeroy’s ratings – or was Connecticut, which won two in that span but isn’t in the field this year. The Huskies just got hot at the right time in 2011 and ’14 and had two stars to carry the offensive load in Shabazz Napier and Kemba Walker. Otherwise, the lowest-ranked offence for a champion was Louisville in 2013 when the Cards ranked seventh on Kenpom.com. That national title has since been vacated for recruiting violations.
The No. 1 offense currently? Gonzaga with an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 125.1 points per 100 possession. Virginia is No. 2 at 123.6. Tournament favourite Duke is sixth. Thinking about betting Kentucky to win it all? Think again as the Cats are 13th.
Champions can’t just be a one-pony show, though. Each of the past 11 champions had a Top 20 defense. No. 1 at Kenpom.com in adjusted defensive efficiency at 85.9 points allowed per 100 possessions is Texas Tech of the Big 12, which is a No. 3 seed. Michigan is No. 2, but the Wolverines don’t make our offensive criteria as they rank 18th there. Virginia and Duke are Nos. 5 & 6. Gonzaga is No. 16. The best-seeded team to fall outside the Top 20? No. 2 Tennessee at No. 34.
Recent history also has shown that a champion must have a top-flight point guard. Michigan State has perhaps the best all-around one in Cassius Winston. Duke has a five-star freshman at the position in Tre Jones. Virginia has a good one in Ty Jerome. Gonzaga does too in Josh Perkins.
NCAA Tournament Champion Pick
Even though no team from the western half of the USA has won it all since Arizona in 1997, Gonzaga hits all the marks and is an experienced bunch – also a common component of recent champions. Zags win their first title. They are +600 to do so at Sports Interaction.