What will be the key factors for Kentucky and Kansas in tonight’s title game? Defense? Three-point shooting? Rebounding? Reserves? To help with the pregame analysis of the game, here’s a look at several box score stats and how these numbers have (or have not) favored the championship game winners. The numbers presented are based on the past 25 NCAA men’s Division I championship games.
1. Bench Scoring: The champion’s reserves have outscored the opposition's bench in 15 of the 25 games (they had the same bench point total in one contest). The winners got 10 or more points from their bench in 18 of the 25 contests; the championship game losers' bench scored 10 or more points in only 10 of the 25 games.
2. The Game‘s Leading Scorer: The game’s leading scorer has come from the winning team in 17 of the 25 games (in one game, players from opposing teams tied for game-high honors).
3. Halftime Lead: The team leading at halftime has won 19 of the last 23 championship games.
4. Better shooting: In the last 25 title games, the team that had a better field goal percentage won 22 and lost only three. The team with the better field goal percentage for the game has won the last 14 title contests.
5. Three-point shooting: Shooting more threes is not a big deal; the winning team had more three-point attempts in only seven of the 25 games. The winning team made more shots from beyond the arc in 10 games (in one game both team made the same amount).
6. Free throw shooting: Getting to the line and making more free throws than the opposition has been a factor in the last 25 games; the winning team has shot more and made more free throws in 15 of the 25 games.
7. Rebounds: The winning team has out rebounded their opponents in 14 of the 25 games.
8. Assists: The winning team has had more assists in 15 of the 25 games; in two games the teams had the same number of assists.
9. Fewer turnovers: Ironically, having fewer turnovers than the opposition was not a major factor. The team with the fewer turnovers only won 10 of the 25 games.
10. Seeds: Tonight’s title game features No. 1 seed Kentucky versus No. 2 seed Kansas. The No. 1 seed has faced the No. 2 seed in eight previous title games. The No. 1 seed has won six and lost two. Since 1979, when all teams were seeded in the tournament, No. 1 seeds are 12-6 in the championship game. The No. 2 seeds are 6-9 in championship games since 1979.