March Madness Guide: South Carolina MVP; Va Tech, Creighton, Xavier Toughest Injuries

Jaylen Barford, Joe Toye

Villanova’s Josh Hart passed Kansas’ Frank Mason in what looked like a two-way race for the Value Add Basketball Most Valuable player, only to have Sindarius Thornwell pass them both for No. 1 after single-handedly putting South Carolina in the NCAA tournament.

In filling out your brackets be aware Virginia Tech, Xavier and Creighton must overcome the toughest injuries.

Rnk Best 3 Players Team Value Add 6th man Real Value Sagarin Sag if not playing
1 Sindarius Thornwell S. Carolina 11.73 1.91 9.82 84.58 (31st) 74.76 (108th)
2 Josh Hart Villanova 11.53 3.05 8.48 93.73 (2nd) 85.25 (27th)
3 Frank Mason Kansas 11.24 2.82 8.42 91.98 (6th) 83.56 (38th)

The SEC Player of the Year Thornwell’s Value Add was held down most of the season due to missing six of the first 13 games, during which South Carolina did not beat a top 250 team, getting blown out by Memphis and losing to Clemson and Seton Hall. Value Add’s calculation indicates everything he does on offense and defense is enough to improve a score by 11.73 points per game, so a 76-70 loss with him not playing turns into a 76-70 win with him on the court. However, to determine his actual value to South Carolina you subtract the Value Add of the team’s 6th best value on a weak South Carolina bench of 1.91, meaning he is actually worth about 9.82 points a game.

Thornwell also has the best defensive rating (-3.92) at what has become the toughest position “3” or “small forward” in old terminology. (see explanation of positions and value of replacement players and injured or returning players here)

Sagarin Ranks South Carolina as the 31st best team in the country, with a point value of 84.58, so if he did not play we estimate South Carolina is only the 108th best team in the country with a 74.76 adjusted Sagarin Rating. A team typically is hurt less than a point by a player not in their top five being injured — and this is not always an actual bench player — it can be a player who is shooting and turning the ball over too much and playing poor defense.

Villanova and Kansas would both easily make the tournament if their top stars went down because their benches are so much stronger that they would only drop to 27th and 38th. Of course, both have plenty of top recruits who could go to a much higher level given the chance.

Because Value Add Basketball measures how much each player is worth to their team, this provides a guide for checking on how many points a injured or returning player will impact the final score of their team before filling out your brackets.

Putting a front slash “/” into the team search field at Value Add Basketball pulls up only injured players. The lists shows that fans should not have been shocked when heavily favored Valparaiso lost to the Horizon League 9-seed 43-41, because they had the most damaging injury of the season when Alec Peters (7.92 Value Add) went down.

Of the teams playing in March Madness, the ones most hurt by injury are Virginia Tech (Chris Clarke, 5.25 Value Add), Xavier (Edmond Sumner, 4.49) and Creighton (Maurcie Watson, 3.28). The double blow to the Big East could hurt, as they are projected to have a national best 70% of their teams (7 of 10) be selected Sunday, however these injuries change Creighton and Xavier from favored Sweet 16 teams to teams that could easily lose in the opening round and give the Big East a 2-5 record even if Butler and Villanova win.


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