Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia Enjoy Best Odds Entering March Madness

Four of the last six years the No. 1 Value Add player has led his team to the title. The two exceptions were when Kemba Walker finished No. 2 in 2011 and led UConn to the title, and when No. 1 Trey Burke’s Michigan team lost to the 2013 Louisville team, one of only three schools to ever have three of the top 30 Value Add players (Duke 2010 and this year’s Kentucky are the other two).

It will be hard for the No. 1 Value Add player through Sunday’s games, Delon Wright (Utah) to make it five of seven years, but No. 2 Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) and No. 3 Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) have a great shot. In fact, it is rare for a team to even make the Final Four without either one of the top few Value Add players, two of the Top 50, three of the Top 100 and/or John Calipari or Tom Izzo as their coach.

The following are the teams with the best chance of making the Final Four this season based on this history and their top three Value Add players (Anderson was in the Top 10 before his injury, so Virginia’s chances are based on him coming back):

F4 Chance Team Rnk 1st Value Add Rnk 2nd Value Add Rnk 3rd Value Add
1 Kentucky 3 Towns 7 Cauley-Stein 17 Booker
2 Wisconsin 2 Kaminsky 39 Hayes 83 Dekker
3 Virginia (w/Ander.) 36 Gill 46 Brogdon 86 Anderson (top 10 Bef Inj)
4 Duke 25 Okafor 27 Cook 41 Jones
5 Gonzaga 16 Pangos 20 Wiltjer 206 Sabonis
6 Arizona 37 McConnell 90 Hollis-Jefferson 100 Johnson
7 Utah 1 Wright 73 Taylor 263 Poeltl
8 Kansas 33 Mason 52 Ellis 138 Oubre
9 Villanova 42 Hilliard 111 Ochefu 158 Hart
10 Michigan St. 120 Trice 154 Valentine 191 Dawson

Ten other teams are close based on their top three players – in alphabetical order Baylor, Davidson, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Providence, St. John’s, Stanford, and Wichita State.

Historically, Villanova seems the least likely to make the Final Four of the teams that look to possibly be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed this year. However, Jay Wright’s 2009 Villanova team was similar and one of the other six to make the Final Four without the Value Add credentials.

Utah and Michigan State are not considered in a class with the other eight on this list, but Utah will ride Wright as far as they can to try to follow UConn (2014 No. 1 Napier), Kentucky (2012 No. 1 Anthony Davis), Duke (2010, No. 1 Scheyer), and UNC (2009 No. 1 Lawson) to the title. In addition, Michigan rode No. 1 Trey Burke to Runner-Up in 2013. Going back one year further Mario Chalmer’s was No. 4 in 2008 for the champs from Kansas.

Michigan State does not have a top 100 player, but with three top-200 players Izzo’s magic could be enough. In 2005, 2009, and 2010 he took Spartan teams without a single top 50 player to the Final Four. Calipari accomplished similar feats with Memphis State and two Kentucky teams.

As the first team to have three of the top 17 players as well as Calipari as their coach, Kentucky is the biggest favorite ever except for perhaps the 2010 Duke team, which had the top two Value Add players in Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler and the 23rd best player in Nolan Smith. Duke went onto win their first five games of the tournament by an average score of 73-56 before surviving to take the title when a last second shot by Butler fell off the rim in what would have been one of the greatest upsets in history.

The following are the 48 Final Four teams of the tempo-free era, and the ranking of each team’s top three players in the Value Add historic database, starting with the 2003 season that included Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony and Marquette’s Dwyane Wade. Only six of 48 teams have not had one or the other of those factors going for them. A review of the all-time Value Add database shows the following rankings for the top three players of each Final Four team:

Year Final Four Teams 1st Val Add 2nd 3rd Result
2003  Syracuse 7 36 41 Champ
2003  Kansas 14 19 101 Runnerup
2003 Texas 16 90 159 Final Four
2003 Marquette 3 39 115 Final Four
2004  Connecticut 11 12 251 Champ
2004  Georgia Tech 22 206 250 Runnerup
2004 Duke 13 21 38 Final Four
2004 Oklahoma St. 16 45 56 Final Four
2005  N. Carolina 12 34 80 Champ
2005  Illinois 14 15 26 Runnerup
2005 Michigan St. 65 136 145 Final Four
2005 Louisville 27 82 89 Final Four
2006  Florida 10 55 93 Champ
2006  UCLA 43 52 188 Runnerup
2006 George Mason 82 189 345 Final Four
2006 LSU 14 34 36 Final Four
2007  Florida 20 37 75 Champ
2007  Ohio St. 4 24 206 Runnerup
2007 UCLA 9 59 79 Final Four
2007 Georgetown 2 13 62 Final Four
2008  Kansas 4 71 169 Champ
2008 Memphis 59 119 141 Runnerup
2008 N. Carolina 3 53 66 Final Four
2008 UCLA 2 38 62 Final Four
2009  N. Carolina 1 17 42 Champ
2009  Michigan St. 63 116 402 Runnerup
2009 Villanova 93 176 270 Final Four
2009 Connecticut 11 98 190 Final Four
2010  Duke 1 2 23 Champ
2010  Butler 22 105 196 Runnerup
2010 W. Virginia 8 31 116 Final Four
2010 Michigan St. 62 234 242 Final Four
2011  Connecticut 2 32 92 Champ
2011  Butler 22 225 226 Runnerup
2011 Kentucky 62 65 120 Final Four
2011 VCU 89 98 293 Final Four
2012  Kentucky 1 38 59 Champ
2012  Kansas 9 29 36 Runnerup
2012 Louisville 39 72 220 Final Four
2012 Ohio St. 6 22 63 Final Four
2013  Louisville 9 28 30 Champ
2013  Michigan 1 66 79 Runnerup
2013 Wichita St. 167 193 252 Final Four
2013 Syracuse 15 42 46 Final Four
2014  Connecticut 1 109 145 Champ
2014  Kentucky 43 58 119 Runnerup
2014 Florida 28 51 54 Final Four
2014 Wisconsin 14 38 79 Final Four


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