The last week of the regular season brings a lot of consternation and perceived shifting of fortunes. We hear "sense of urgency" or "win and you're in," but the truth is that a win or loss at this time of year is just the same as a win or a loss two weeks ago. The NCAA tournament may be approaching quickly, but the games remain the same.
As Championship Week and the NCAA tournament get underway, to borrow a phrase from "The Godfather," we will "settle all family business." Conference champions will be crowned and bids will be handed out. We all wish to have the "best teams" in the field, but we never get all of the best teams. We just get some of them. The Bilas Index is the one place where you get the best teams.
The NCAA tournament will get us a champion, but the champion is not always the best team. When the best team loses, that is called an upset. We have always had upsets, and we always will. That is the beauty of tournament play, whether it is the NCAA tournament, Wimbledon, the NFL playoffs or the Accenture Match Play Championship (and in that one, a No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1 seed many times).
So, use The Bilas Index for good and to win your bracket challenges and office pools. Because The Bilas Index gives you the best and most accomplished teams, and you should use it as a cheat sheet, just as the selection committee does.
As a bonus this week, I've loaded this week's Index with stats I see as key to a team's true strength. Oh, and as always, you're welcome.
Note: All statistics and records are through Sunday, March 9, unless otherwise noted.
Moving in: Stephen F. Austin, Saint Mary's, NC State
Moving out: Marquette, Boise State, UNLV
1. Florida Gators (Previous ranking: 1)
Florida is one of four teams ranked in the top 25 in both Ken Pomeroy's adjusted-offensive efficiency (11th) and adjusted-defensive efficiency (eighth). Louisville, Villanova and Wichita State are the others. The past 11 NCAA champs have all been ranked in the top 25 in both categories. When it comes to SEC rankings, Florida allows the fewest points per game (58.2), points per 100 possessions (91.8), transition points (8.9) and points in the paint (22.6). Florida is a lock for a No. 1 seed with three wins over the Sagarin top 25 and eight wins versus the Sagarin top 50, with the only losses coming against Wisconsin and UConn on the road.