The National Title Game is Friday Night

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This weekend the NCAA Division III Women’s Championship Semi-finals will take place and in a cool twist, the winners get some time off before playing for the title on April 4th in Indianapolis where the Division I and II championships will also take place.  We took a look at the stats behind the final four teams this year as well as each one since 2011 to see if we could pick a winner.

One pattern undoubtedly stood out, except for 2012 when Illinois Wesleyan won it all, the champions were the best offensive AND defensive efficient team.  (For the record, Illinois Wesleyan was the second best offensive team that year and worst defensive team among the final four, they never faced the top team that year, Amherst) Efficiency is defined as points per 100 possessions.  The champions also had the highest differential between those two figures, in other words over the course of 100 possessions the champions had the highest margin of victory.  That includes last year’s undefeated champion, Thomas More, who is back and undefeated this season.  They are the most efficient offensive team at 120.42.  They also have the highest differential at 51.44 – a full nine points HIGHER than last year’s 42.94 – which was the highest of all the teams we looked at.

However, the best defensive team is Amherst at 61.75 and they have the second highest differential at 40.60, a figure that in any other year would be the highest among the final four teams.  (Tufts has a differential of 23.09 and Wartburg is at 14.50) Across a variety of metrics, true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage and turnover percentage, Thomas More is the best offensive team and Amherst is the best defensive team.

Not to disparage Tufts or Wartburg but it would appear the national championship will be the winner of the Thomas More/Amherst game.  And taking my StatGeek hat off and putting my coach’s hat on, I’ll take the team with the best player.  Gimme Thomas More to stay undefeated and defend their title – first winning on Friday and then on to Indianapolis, very likely against another NESCAC team, Tufts.