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Butler vs Duke Preview
Contrary to popular belief, three guarantees in life now exist: death, taxes and Whatifsports.com's college basketball simulation engines' unwavering connection with Duke.
Now, before you take the time to open your email account and fire off a passionate note accusing us of having an ACC, East Coast, Cameron-loving, Coach K-kissing biased. Just stop. Whatifsports.com bases its Beyond the Boxscore articles on the information generated by the simulation engines. Duke is one of those programs basketball fans love to hate and I know even with this note, WIS will receive some of those emotionally charged emails.
This will be the third time the 2000-01 Blue Devils will have hogged the WIS headlines over other NCAA elite basketball programs. Coach Mike Krzyzewski's third national title team ranked highest in WIS NCAA Hoops Team of the Decade earlier this year when up against fellow NCAA champions from the past ten years. The same team wound up the strongest Coach K title team when pitted against the 1991, 1992 and 2010 Dukies. Now the starting line-up, consisting of future NBA players Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Carlos Boozer, Chris Duhon and Shane Battier, is once again atop the NCAA basketball heap.
Whatifsports.com ran a round-robin tournament where each of the past 25 NCAA national basketball champions played each other 51 times. At the end of the simulation, the computer generated a winning percentage and the team's points per game average. Blasting the 25-team championship field at a clip of over 91-percent and scoring nearly 98 points-per-game were Coach K's 2000-01 Blue Devils.
As for the reigning champions, Whatifsports.com is raining on their parade even before it starts down in Durahm, North Carolina. The 2009-10 Duke program ranks 20th out of 25 in our round-robin tournament with a winning percentage of 38.3-percent. Their 82.6 points per game average ranked 21st out of 25.
Story continues below
Duke 2010 vs Past 25 NCAA Basketball Champions
|2000-01 Duke Blue Devils||91.3||97.7|
|1995-96 Kentucky Wildcats||83.8||96.1|
|2004-05 North Carolina Tar Heels||79.8||95.0|
|1989-90 UNLV Runnin' Rebels||73.3||95.8|
|1997-98 Kentucky Wildcats||61.4||85.2|
|2007-08 Kansas Jayhawks||61.0||84.5|
|1991-92 Duke Blue Devils||60.5||93.6|
|2003-04 Connecticut Huskies||57.0||82.2|
|1993-94 Arkansas Razorbacks||55.5||93.4|
|2008-09 North Carolina Tar Heels||55.4||91.8|
|2001-02 Maryland Terrapins||54.9||89.1|
|2006-07 Florida Gators||54.7||85.8|
|1992-93 North Carolina Tar Heels||54.0||89.4|
|1994-95 UCLA Bruins||52.9||91.7|
|2005-06 Florida Gators||50.5||84.6|
|1988-89 Michigan Wolverines||46.0||91.1|
|1985-86 Louisville Cardinals||43.6||89.2|
|1998-99 Connecticut Huskies||43.3||84.2|
|1990-91 Duke Blue Devils||41.6||90.4|
|1999-00 Michigan State Spartans||39.1||83.1|
|2009-10 Duke Blue Devils||38.3||82.6|
|2002-03 Syracuse Orange||30.6||82.9|
|1986-87 Indiana Hoosiers||27.4||87.1|
|1996-97 Arizona Wildcats||20.4||85.5|
|1984-85 Villanova Wildcats||19.3||79.8|
|1987-88 Kansas Jayhawks||10.3||80.5|
This Duke team was not as sexy as past NCAA champions. They won many games on the defensive end as they chucked up three after three on offense. In the national championship game two nights ago, Duke did not die by the three, but they certainly didn't live by it either. They shot under 30-percent (5-17) from behind the arc and played the majority of the game below the rim. It's the lack of athleticism and inability to score outside and inside that caused the 2010 Duke Blue Devils' ranking to suffer when competing against 24 other champions. Coach K did not have the balance needed to make a run had this year's NCAA tournament field been stronger. But the chips fell where they did and Duke managed to escape the South region unscathed and waltz into the NCAA championship game.
Coach Rick Pitino's 1995-96 Kentucky Wildcat program was the only other NCAA champion to finish with better than an 80-percent winning margin in the round-robin tournament. Nine of his players would eventually graduate to the NBA including Antoine Walker, Derek Anderson and Ron Mercer. Kentucky finished the season with a 34-2 record and possesses one of the highest Sagarin season ratings at 103.26.
What if Butler Won?
The Butler Bulldogs' defense stifled every offense it faced in this tournament, so I decided to imagine Gordon Hayward's half-court shot at the buzzer dropped down and the little engine that could won the national championship game. Where would they rank?
Butler 2010 vs Past 25 NCAA Basketball Champions
|2009-10 Butler Bulldogs||16.5||75.2|
Brad Stevens' defense was magic in this year's tournament matched-up against this year's talent. These rankings go to show you how unique this tournament was and how the hyper-offenses of the past would really take teams like Duke and Butler to the woodshed had they met on the court in the past.
Whatifsports.com's hope is these rankings spark debate and in-depth sports discussion. We have no dog in the fight when it comes to any of the stories we post on our website. Our focus is the love of sport and debate.
Come to think of it, Reggie Love was also on that 2001 Duke team. Coincidence? I think not.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to shoot him an email with any questions or comments regarding Whatifsports.com's NCAA Tournament Preview.
Whatifsports.com is proud to say it accurately predicted the 2009 Super Bowl, 2009 BCS National Championship, 2009 World Series, 2009 NBA Finals and 2009 NCAA basketball championship. Our hope is to add the 2010 national basketball championship to that running list of Whatifsports.com's simulation success.
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