The Florida Gators rank #4 in the both polls, but they are ranked #1 on SevenOvertimes.com, KenPom.com, and on ESPN’s own BPI rankings. A combination of great offense and great defense has led them to the 2nd best Margin of Victory in the country (27.2 points per game to Indiana’s 27.8). But just how good their defense is may surprise you.
We are still early in conference play, so we should expect their competition to increase as the season progresses (even in a relatively weak SEC), but at this point, UF’s defense has been better than ANY team’s since 2003 (which is as far back as I looked).
Top 5 defenses in AdjD (Points Per 100 Defensive Possessions)
Not only is Florida significantly better than the next team – the teams that are similar (based on the Four Factors) to them may be surprising. This year’s Stephen F. Austin (who is quietly sitting at 17-2, with a quality win over Oklahoma) is the most similar team (Note: the numbers after the team names are their NCAA seeds).
Defensive Similarity – Florida
Of the top five teams that have shown a defense similar to Florida’s – only one has also had a Top 100 offense – and that is this year’s Ohio State team who is ranked #15 in AdjO.
While defense has been the key to Florida’s success this year, Michigan’s #1 ranked offense has been the key driver behind its first #1 ranking since the Fab Five. As John Gasaway noted in this tweet – the similarities between 2013 Michigan and 2005 Illinois are striking. However, the other very similar teams are somewhat surprising:
Offensive Similarity - Michigan
Of those teams, Illinois lost to a very deep UNC team in the Championship game, Texas lost in the Elite 8 to Memphis, Utah St. lost to Texas A&M in the opening round, and Wisconsin was upset by Butler in the Sweet 16. Notre Dame is currently 17-4, and predicted to make the tournament in the 7-10 seed range. I think anything less than a Final Four appearance for this Michigan team would be considered a disappointment.