We are still early in conference play, so we should expect their competition to increase as the season progresses (even in a relatively weak SEC), but at this point, UF’s defense has been better than ANY team’s since 2003 (which is as far back as I looked).
Top 5 defenses in AdjD (Points Per 100 Defensive Possessions)
Not only is Florida significantly better than the next team – the teams that are similar (based on the Four Factors) to them may be surprising. This year’s Stephen F. Austin (who is quietly sitting at 17-2, with a quality win over Oklahoma) is the most similar team (Note: the numbers after the team names are their NCAA seeds).
Defensive Similarity – Florida
Of the top five teams that have shown a defense similar to Florida’s – only one has also had a Top 100 offense – and that is this year’s Ohio State team who is ranked #15 in AdjO.
While defense has been the key to Florida’s success this year, Michigan’s #1 ranked offense has been the key driver behind its first #1 ranking since the Fab Five. As John Gasaway noted in this tweet – the similarities between 2013 Michigan and 2005 Illinois are striking. However, the other very similar teams are somewhat surprising:
Offensive Similarity – Michigan
Of those teams, Illinois lost to a very deep UNC team in the Championship game, Texas lost in the Elite 8 to Memphis, Utah St. lost to Texas A&M in the opening round, and Wisconsin was upset by Butler in the Sweet 16. Notre Dame is currently 17-4, and predicted to make the tournament in the 7-10 seed range. I think anything less than a Final Four appearance for this Michigan team would be considered a disappointment.