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|
|3||Virginia (w/Ander.)||36||Gill||46||Brogdon||86||Anderson (top 10 Bef Inj)|
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|
|2004||Oklahoma St.||16||45||56||Final Four|
|2005||Michigan St.||65||136||145||Final Four|
|2006||George Mason||82||189||345||Final Four|
|2008||N. Carolina||3||53||66||Final Four|
|2010||W. Virginia||8||31||116||Final Four|
|2010||Michigan St.||62||234||242||Final Four|
|2012||Ohio St.||6||22||63||Final Four|
|2013||Wichita St.||167||193||252||Final Four|