1 Adjusted efficiency—how many points a team scores or yields per possession, adjusted for schedule strength—is a much better indicator of title worthiness than any traditional stat such as field goal percentage or points per game. According to kenpom.com, the average adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings (among all D-I schools) for Elite Eight teams in the past decade were 15.8 and 19.1, respectively, and the average rankings for teams that reached the title game were 12.8 and 9.9. Only a handful of schools will rank that high in both metrics.
2 Mediocre defense is a red flag. Only five Final Four teams from the past decade have ranked outside the top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency, and only two (VCU in 2010--11 and Marquette in 2002--03) have ranked outside the top 50.
3 Teams with strong interior defenses are the best bets to advance deep into March. (Defenses that thrive on locking down the three-point line or creating turnovers are more volatile over a six-game stretch.) Kentucky was No. 1 in two-point field goal defense allowed last season, and UConn, even though it was a surprise champ in 2011, ranked seventh nationally in that category during its title run.