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The Numbers Are In: Virginia Was Powered by a Trio Not Seen in 17 Years

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A year after he was injured before the most devastating loss in NCAA Tournament history, De’Andre Hunter dominated Texas Tech to help Virginia sneak out another thrilling win for their first NCAA basketball national championship. Hunter went 7 of 8 after halftime to finish with 22 points, showing why he was one of three Virginia players to be ranked in the top 20 most valuable players by Value Add Basketball – the first trio to accomplish that since Duke in 2002.

The other two members of Virginia’s historic trio – junior guards Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy – also led the “Experienced Guard” model we presented prior to the start of the tournament, which finished in the 93rd percentile of the 17 million brackets submitted to ESPN. Most of the other systems yielded excellent brackets as well, with five of the eight finishing in the 87th percentile or better.

The worst predictor turned out to be the one based on which teams had the most NBA talent. The five teams with the most NBA talent (Kentucky, Gonzaga, Duke, North Carolina and Oregon) all failed to make the Final Four.

Some are concerned Congress will destroy March Madness by requiring the payment of all players. Many smaller schools (including Christian schools like Lipscomb and Liberty, which both had great postseason showings this year) have turned to Division I basketball programs because the funds generated can pay for a dozen more men’s and women’s sports. Football can bring in more revenue, but the costs are much higher. The University of Connecticut Athletic Department is $42 million in debt after building a stadium to move their football program to Division I.

Another interesting potential change would be the removal of the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule. There has been significant buzz that the NBA may do away with the requirement of forcing 18-year-olds to wait a year before joining the NBA.

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This tournament showed once again that a team of 18-year-olds who are going to be great NBA players in a few years can usually be defeated by experienced juniors and seniors with higher Value Add Basketball ratings.

Here is a breakdown of how each of our pre-tournament prediction systems performed:

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Beyond his faith and his wife and nine children, John's two passions are ranking all 4,000 college basketball players for his www.valueaddbasketball.com site and working for conservative reform solutions as executive director at www.takeback.org.
ESPN wrote, “When you think about the intersection of advanced sports statistics and political forecasting, you think of Nate Silver. Far fewer people will know the name John Pudner, but college hoops fans probably should.”

Pudner’s projections based on statistical analysis and real-life experience resulted in him correctly projecting wide-ranging events such as Donald Trump winning 300+ electoral votes while losing the popular vote two months before the election, to working with NBA teams to project unexpected stars like Jimmy Butler who scouts did not expect to even make the league.

Professionally, he ran faith-based turnout for Bush 2000 in 16 states. He won a majority conservative editorial board for the school paper when he attended Marquette University with Scott Walker. John saw Republican takeovers in the three other states in which he lived and ran campaigns -- Virginia, Georgia and then Alabama.

Beyond his faith and his wife and nine children, John's two passions are ranking all 4,000 college basketball players for his www.valueaddbasketball.com site and working for conservative reform solutions as executive director at www.takeback.org.




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