Final Four 2015: Inside the Numbers of the NCAA Tournament's Final Weekend

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 30, 2015

B/R via Getty Images, AP Images

The 2015 NCAA men's basketball tournament has been indescribably fantastic, and the best might be yet to come. A pair of outstanding games await on Saturday night when Duke faces Michigan State and Kentucky draws Wisconsin.

We have a full breakdown of the teams, stars and stories of the Final Four posted here, but for those of us who enjoy bar trivia factoids, let's have some fun with numbers.

Some of these are historical; one is (obviously) fictional. Some are tempo-free and require a subscription to, but most require no knowledge of "advanced metrics" whatsoever.

We'll kick things off with a nice round number.

10: Combined seed number of No. 1 Kentucky, No. 1 Duke, No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 7 Michigan State. In each of the last two years, this number was 18, and in 2011 it was 26. It was nine in 2012, but that group only had one top seed in it. It's been a little while since we had a Final Four grouping this strong.

46: Combined number of Final Four appearances in the history of these four schools. This is Kentucky's 17th Final Four. Duke has been to 16, Michigan State to nine and Wisconsin to four.

15: Combined number of national championships by these schools16 if you include the one forthcoming on Monday. Kentucky has eight, Duke has four, Michigan State has two and Wisconsin had one way back in 1941.

75: Percent of teams that participated in the Champions Classic in November that reached the Final Four. Kansas is the only one that didn't make it, but the Jayhawks barely earned a participation ribbon for losing to Kentucky by 32 in November. In the other game, Duke beat Michigan State 81-71, in case you're the type to read into box scores from four months ago.

2,532: Career wins by the head coaches in the Final Four: Mike Krzyzewski (1,016), John Calipari (635), Tom Izzo (495) and Bo Ryan (386). Have we mentioned that this is a pretty solid Final Four?

Mar 21, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks with his players during the second half against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at KFC Yum! Center. Kentucky defeated Cincinnati  64
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

50: Consecutive wins remaining until Kentucky ties UCLA's all-time record of 88 in a row.

127.5: Wisconsin's adjusted offensive efficiency rating, No. 1 in the country.

124.1: Michigan's adjusted offensive efficiency rating during the 2013-14 season. This was previously the highest AOE posted by any team in the era (dating back to the 2001-02 season). This year's Wisconsin squad is good at offense.

39.2: Kentucky's defensive effective field-goal percentage.

41.4: Memphis' defensive effective field-goal percentage during the 2008-09 season (Calipari's last season with the Tigers). This was previously the record during the era. Kentucky is good at defense. It will be quite the contrast in strengths when the Badgers and Wildcats go to war on Saturday.

40.0 / 40.7: Assist rate on field goals made against Kentucky and Wisconsin, respectively, ranking them first and second in the nation in that category. At least they have something in common.

16.0: Percent difference between Kentucky's offensive rebounding rate and Wisconsin's defensive rebounding rate, both of which rank in the top six nationally. Something has to give.

Mar 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Justise Winslow (12) celebrates after making a three-point basket against the Utah Utes during the second half in the semifinals of the south regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Man
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

14.6: Points per game averaged by Duke's Justise Winslow since Rasheed Sulaimon was dismissed from the team 17 games ago. He was great in the Blue Devils' last two games against Utah and Gonzaga. But don't call it a breakout performance, because he has been solid for two monthsdespite playing for much of that stretch with a fractured rib, as Krzyzewski told reporters after a Feb. 28 win over Syracuse.

50.0: Three-point percentage (25-of-50) by Wisconsin's opponents thus far in the tournament. There have been plenty of surprising moments in the tourney this year, but North Carolina hitting 8-of-13 three-pointers against the Badgers ranks near the top of the "You've got to be kidding me" list.

11: Double-doubles recorded by Duke's Jahlil Okafor this season.

0: Double-doubles recorded by Okafor in the month of March. He has had a couple of nice games over the past six weeks, but are we sure the ankle that he injured in mid-February is anywhere near 100 percent?

121: How many more free throws Wisconsin has made than the number of free throws Wisconsin's opponents have attempted throughout the season. On average, the Badgers shoot 14.7-of-19.3 from the charity stripe while their opponents shoot 8.1-of-11.6. Patience is a virtue, and defending without fouling is a big advantage.

63.2: Michigan State's free-throw percentage this seasongood for 336th in the nation. Though Connecticut was also the No. 7 seed from the East Region when it won the title last year, the Huskies and Spartans couldn't be more different in this regard, as Shabazz Napier and Co. shot 77.7 percent as a team. It hasn't ended Michigan State's run yet, but poor free-throw shooting has a way of manifesting into a disaster.

Mar 29, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo talks to Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals in the finals of the east regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournamen
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

5.7: Fouls per 40 minutes committed by Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns this season. However, that rate has been much higher as of late. Since March 14, he has committed 23 fouls in 123 minutes for a per-40 rate of 7.5. The Wildcats need him to stay on the court in these final two games.

17: Duke's current rank in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Blue Devils were ranked 62nd at the start of the ACC tournament. It's a testament to how great their defense has been in the tournament, but also to how little stock we should put in the oft-cited stat that every national champion since 2002 has ranked in the top 21 in KenPom's ADE. Just by virtue of winning six March Madness games, that number is bound to improve considerably throughout the tournament.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28:  Sam Dekker #15 and Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrate late in the second half while taking on the Arizona Wildcats during the West Regional Final of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Cente
Harry How/Getty Images

44.5: Points per tournament game averaged by Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker. It's pretty awesome when quality players actually stay in college for multiple years, isn't it?

20: Big Ten teams that have made the Final Four since 1991, including Michigan State and Wisconsin this year. Michigan State (2000) was the only one to win the title. Coincidentally, there have also been 20 ACC teams in the Final Four since 1991. Eight of those 20 won the title. ACC fans will want to keep that info in their back pocket for the next time a Big Ten fan brags about winning the ACC/B1G challenge thanks to a narrow victory by Penn State or Rutgers.

34: Days after the tournament ends before Tyus Jones celebrates his 19th birthday. We should probably kill the "importance of senior leadership" narrative forever based on the incredible job this 18-year-old has done all year.

18: Total losses suffered by the Final Four teams this season. Michigan State is responsible for 11 of them.

CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 26: Karl-Anthony Towns #12 and Devin Booker #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats react late in the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

20.7: Kentucky's average margin of victory this year. Very impressive, but still a far cry from UNLV's average margin of victory of 29.4 points going into the 1991 Final Four. Prior to losing to Duke in the national semifinals, those undefeated Rebels had only played two games decided by less than 12 points and defeated eight opponents by a margin of 41 or more.

1,992: Times we'll see the replay of Christian Laettner's shot against Kentucky if the Blue Devils and Wildcats meet in the title game.

That's enough bouncing around. Time for a countdown to the Final Four:

10: Games in which Michigan State's Denzel Valentine has recorded at least 10 points, five assists and five rebounds. He is a one-man box score and a nightmare to defend.

9: Projected 2015 first-round draft picks playing on Saturday night. This according to B/R's Jonathan Wasserman's latest mock draft from March 25 in which the following players are projected to be taken in these spots: Towns (No. 1), Okafor (No. 2), Winslow (No. 5), Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 6), Trey Lyles (No. 10), Kaminsky (No. 12), Devin Booker (No. 18), Tyus Jones (No. 25), Dekker (No. 26). There might be a couple of NBA scouts in attendance on Saturday.

8: Scholarship players on Duke's rostertwo of which (Grayson Allen and Marshall Plumlee) have played sparingly in the past three games. It doesn't take much for this team to get into foul trouble.

7: Minutes played by Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes in the 2014 semifinal against Kentucky. He'll be a much bigger presence in this year's showdown and could be the X-factor that helps push Wisconsin to a win.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 26:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the West Regional Semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, Calif
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

6: Fouls called on Okafor thus far in the tournament. He'll need to continue avoiding whistles and stay on the court if the Blue Devils are going to win this thing.

5: Times at least three No. 1 seeds have made it to the Final Four, including this year. Three made it in 1993, 1997 and 1999, and all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the national semifinals in 2008. Potential good news for Michigan State: Arizona was the oddball as a No. 4 seed in 1997, but that didn't stop the Wildcats from winning it all.

4: Final Fours Kentucky has been to in the past five years. Remember when people said Calipari's "succeed and proceed" strategy would never work?

SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 29:  Bryn Forbes #5 of the Michigan State Spartans reacts to a three pointer in the second half of the game against the Louisville Cardinals during the East Regional Final of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Carrier Dome o
Elsa/Getty Images

3: Michigan State players (Valentine, Travis Trice and Bryn Forbes) who have made at least 70 three-pointers this season. Duke only has one such player (Quinn Cook). Neither Kentucky nor Wisconsin has any. Get ready to watch the Spartans let it fly.

2: Wins that Texas Southern had against the RPI Top 200 this year—one against Kansas State and one at Michigan State in late December. Hard to believe that a team from the SWAC could win a road game against a Final Four team.

1: Kentucky players shorter than 6'6" that have scored a point in the tournament. Everyone raves about Kentucky's size in the paint, but don't forget the Wildcats have a huge size advantage on the perimeter, too.

0: Percent chance that we can be friends if you aren't excited about these Final Four games.

Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.


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