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    Tiers of joy

    by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, January 14, 2016

    Home-court advantage is important in college basketball - even though it may be at an all-time low - but too often it gets ignored. I suspect we have the RPI to blame for this. The RPI doesn’t include venue in its strength of schedule calculation, and more profoundly, encourages users to look at a team’s record against say, the top 50 teams, without considering where those games were played. (Before I go any further, I have to say I don’t mind the RPI in general. It’s not a bad formula considering its origins and the history behind it is kind of endearing.)

    In the spirit of home-court advantage awareness I’ve gone ahead and added additional information to the schedule page. In a fair world, when people talk about top 50 wins they should be accounting for where the game is played. And so I’ve added a notation for whether a game was Tier A or Tier B to each game on a team’s schedule. A game in Tier A represents a top 50 opponent adjusting for the location of the game, and Tier B is the same concept for a top 100 opponent. This is similar to what already exists on the player pages.


    Todd Simon’s big break

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

    I’m on record as supporting mid-season firings. That’s a horrible way to put it, but there are clearly times where removing the head coach in mid-season can have benefits, and the case of UNLV firing - technically he wasn’t fired but work with me - Dave Rice on Sunday night is one of those. Rice was on shaky ground entering the season and a 9-7 start, including losses in the Rebels’ first three conference games, did not inspire confidence from the fan base.

    UNLV could have let Rice finish out the season and he may well have had some success. The conference tournament is in the Rebels’ home arena and the Mountain West is extremely weak at the top. Even with a mediocre finish the rest of the way, it’s possible the Rebels would have been favored in the MW Tournament thanks to a boost from home-arena advantage. And it wouldn’t have been all that easy to fire Rice under those circumstances.


    Week In Review, 1/1 - 1/7

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 8, 2016

    Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 1st and Thursday, January 7th…

    Biggest upsets

    2) #246 Youngstown State 100, #73 Oakland 98 [87 possessions] (9%), Monday. As long as Greg Kampe is coaching Oakland, the Grizzlies’ games will be fun. Kampe’s resume is the perfect combo of orange, green, and red year after year. The blend of fast pace, great offense, and lackluster defense that produces this kind of game. The last team in the land alphabetically pulled off the stunner thanks to a 16-for-32 performance from long range. Oakland’s Kay Felder had 23 points, 14 assists, and six turnovers. He played 40 minutes of an 87-possession game so mentally discount those counting numbers a little and give the Penguins some credit for keeping him in check.

    1) #344 Liberty 62, #167 Coastal Carolina 61 [58] (6%), Wednesday. Liberty had lost all 13 of its games against a D-I team to this point. The Flames are possibly a bit better than that due to the recent addition of Marquette transfer John Dawson. But still, it was a huge upset to go on the road and beat one of the better teams in the Big South. Liberty didn’t score for the first five minutes, and didn’t lead until there were three minutes left. Dawson hit the game-winning three with 13 seconds left.


    Week In Review, 12/18-12/31

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 1, 2016

    Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, December 19th and Thursday, December 31st…

    Biggest upsets

    3) #341 Southeast Missouri State 78, #206 Missouri St. 74 (10%), Tuesday 12/22. This wasn’t one of those upsets that grabs headlines. Missouri State has won just three games against D-I teams so far. But some of this is schedule-driven. Besides SEMO, the Bears haven’t played a team rated worse than #181. Also, one of the Bears’ wins was at Oklahoma State. So their record is a bit deceiving. SEMO, on the other hand, was 0-10 coming into this one. But the Redhawks led the whole second half and held off a late Missouri State charge to get head coach Rick Ray his first victory at his new job.

    2) #308 Marist 89, #113 Army 83 (8%), Saturday 12/19. I think we’re getting close to the 50/50 points where at least one of Army, Northwestern, and William & Mary makes the NCAA tournament for the first time this season. The Black Knights have emerged as the favorite in a Patriot League that strongly rewards the regular-season champ in its conference tournament. But the confidence in that projection was shaken a bit when Marist went to West Point and pulled off the upset with shocking ease, leading nearly the entire way.


    Preparing for the coming revolution

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    It is nearly certain that this ends up as the year with the most 3-pointers shot, and it is very likely that 3-point percentage will finish at the highest mark since the 3-point line was moved back to 20’9” for the 2009 season. This despite the fact that 2-point shooting and free throw rates are high enough that the breakeven point for three-point shooting is higher than it’s been in a long time.

    But there are more 3’s and for good reason. People are drilling them more frequently than ever. Or at least in the modern 3-point shooting era. Some might say this is the Steph Effect trickling down to the college game. I’m not sure that’s playing a huge role, but at the edges, maybe coaches are more open to an offense built around the three-pointer and maybe occasionally a shooter feels slightly more justified to take a three early in the shot clock.

    Where the revolution is happening is on the playground. Curry is doing things that kids from 10 or 20 years didn’t think was possible. Kids just figuring out who they are as basketballers are going to think they can be Curry. Probably none of them will be, but quite a few of them will come close, and in 5-10 years they’ll be getting scholarships.


    Week in Review 12/11-12/17

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, December 18, 2015

    Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, December 11th and Thursday, December 17th…

    Biggest upsets

    The biggest upset of the week was #313 USC Upstate winning at #175 Navy on Monday. But the Spartans had a 13% chance of winning which doesn’t qualify as a major upset in these parts. So I’ll just go with the old random piece of information here. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley scored 23 points in 14 minutes against Hardin-Simmons on Wednesday. Hardin-Simmons is D-III and normally an effort in a fake game is not glorified in these parts. In fact, I am only using this as a jumping off point to a review of the most action-packed individual effort this season. That was accomplished by the current usage rate leader, Eastern Illinois’ Trae Anderson. Anderson has used a whopping 45.4% of EIU’s possessions to date, eight percent higher than any other qualifying player. His game log is a masterpiece of sorts.

    But it didn’t get any better than a November 28th game against Green Bay where Anderson played 11 minutes, took eight shots, five free throws and committed eight turnovers. The calculation used to estimate his usage for the game has him at 76% which implies that four players did not need to cross half-court while Anderson was on the floor. However, this figure is a bit exaggerated since some of Anderson’s playing time was at the end of the game when possessions were short while EIU was trying to close a late deficit. In reality, Anderson was on the floor for 27 possessions and personally ended 17 of them, for a 63% usage rate. That’s still incredible and something for the young ballplayers out there to shoot for the rest of the season.


    Things that predict future shooting percentage

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

    As a follow-up to the piece on Villanova last week, I thought it would be useful to look not just at what predicts team shooting percentage going forward, but how those inputs vary during the season.

    First, let’s look at what team stats predict offensive 3-point and 2-point percentage, respectively.


    Week in Review: 12/4-12/10

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, December 11, 2015

    Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, December 4th and Thursday, December 10th…

    Biggest upsets

    1) #330 SIU Edwardsville 76, #146 SIU Carbondale 74 (8%), Wednesday. There was just a single upset of the 10% variety during finals week. SIUE got its first win in seven tries against the main campus. But in cases like this, the main campus should suffer the indignity of having its location appended to its name. Thus, we go with SIUC here. The Cougars had lost seven straight, six of those by double digits before this one, and Carbondale had rolled to an 8-1 mark, but anything can happen when these two battle for the bragging rights of the Southern Illinois University System.

    Least likely comebacks

    3) #319 UMass-Lowell 68, #208 Boston College 66 (2.1%), Sunday. Let’s put an asterisk here as a BC team already foundering outside the top 200 was down two starters in this one due to a food poisoning incident from the previous evening. Nonetheless, the Eagles did have as much as a ten-point lead in the second half and led 60-51 with 5:31 to go before allowing a late 14-1 run to the River Hawks that would lead to the upset.


    Villanova’s deceptive 3-point percentage

    by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, December 9, 2015

    Villanova has made just 28.4% of its 3-point attempts to date. They’ve also taken over half of their shots from beyond the arc. It’s a situation that was made more famous by its lopsided loss to Oklahoma, in which the Wildcats took a whopping 32 3-point attempts, making four.

    If you didn’t know any better, you’d say that the Wildcats are a bad 3-point shooting team. But it’s only accurate to say they have been a poor 3-point shooting team. Based on what we know about the Wildcats’ personnel, they have at least a few good shooters who just haven’t shot well through the first eight games of the season.

    Josh Hart has made 31% of his 3’s after hitting 40% over his first two seasons. Kris Jenkins has made 29% after hitting 37% prior to this season. Phil Booth is at 28% after a freshman season that saw him hit nearly half of his limited attempts.

    We don’t have prior data for the freshman trio of Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Mikal Bridges, who have combined to make just 22% of their shots. They could truly be poor shooters, and I’d imagine that as freshmen, they are a step down from the returning group. But there’s no way their true ability is to make 22% of their 3’s.


    Week in Review: 11/27 - 12/3

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, December 4, 2015

    Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, November 27th and Thursday, December 3rd…

    Biggest upsets

    3) Vacant. It was a light week for upsets as only two outcomes had a 10% or less chance of occurring. Part of this was the lighter schedule following the Thanksgiving tournament action. Part of it was a more conventional week than normal.

    2) #294 Longwood 70, #104 Columbia 69 (10%), Saturday. To date, Longwood has one win over a D-I foe and this is it. The Lancers trailed by as many as 12 in the first half and didn’t lead until there were under three minutes to play. There were a few heroes for Longwood, but none more important than sophomore guard Kanayo Obi-Rapu who made four of his six 3-point attempts, including the one that gave Longwood its first lead. Columbia followed this up with a double-digit win at Bucknell. Longwood proceeded to lose its Big South opener by 24 to High Point.


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