One narrative that tends to emerge around March Madness every year is the value of experience come tournament time. When we look at the data, there is little evidence of the value of overall experience. However, tournament experience does appear to matter, as seen in this piece at TeamRankings.com, and here at the Harvard Sports Analysis blog.
So with that in mind, here is the breakdown of tournament experience for each of this year’s teams. Seen below are total minutes logged by active players on the roster of each tournament team, accounting for injuries.
- The one team that jumps out at me based on experience is Wichita State in the South. Not only are they the third most experienced team in the field, but they will get another full game under their belt by playing in the First Four (assuming they advance).
- North Carolina is the only (1) seed that is the most experienced team in their region.
- The top five most experienced teams are, in order, Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, Dayton, and Virginia.
- In every (8) vs. (9) matchup, the (9) seed is the more experienced team.
- Two other first round matchups have underdogs that are more experienced than the favorites: (10) VCU against (7) Oregon State in the West, and (11) Gonzaga against (6) Seton Hall in the Midwest.
- The West Region, considered by many to be the weakest region, is also clearly the least experienced.
Data from Sports Reference College Basketball
Visualizations made with Tableau Public.