Championship Contender Watch – 2-5-2018

I have identified a set of traits commonly found in NCAA Tournament champions.  We’re far enough along in the season to start tracking the teams that fit the mold and those that are close.  Here are the teams currently exhibiting real contender characteristics.

So far, we can use what we know about teams’ AP Poll ranks 7 weeks before the post season begins, their projected seeds (from, and their team stats to identify the teams that may have the DNA of a championship team.

“Current contenders” meet all of the qualifications.  “Almost Contenders” are missing one link but are very close and will join the contender list with a little improvement.  “Pretenders” are way off in one or two areas and will need significant improvement to become a real contender.

Current Contenders

Purdue dropped out of the list of contenders.  They’ve been out-rebounded by their last 6 opponents.  In their last game, Rutgers beat Purdue 37-25 on rebounds.

  • Michigan State
  • Duke
  • West Virginia
  • North Carolina

Almost Contenders

  • Purdue – need to improve rebounding (see above)
  • Kansas  –  need to improve defensive scoring
  • Oklahoma  –  need to improve defensive scoring
  • Cincinnati – need to improve scoring
  • Xavier  –  need to improve def scoring


Villanova dropped here, because they’ve lost ground statistically in total rebounds.

  • Villanova  –  need to improve rebounding
  • Virginia  –  rebounding and scoring are off the mark
  • Arizona  –  defensive scoring