by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, January 25, 2016
Yesterday, SMU removed itself from the list of the unbeatens, the last of America’s 351 teams to do so. Give Larry Brown credit: at least he is consistent with his coaching philosophy. He wants his team shooting 2’s (despite the fact that the Mustangs have made 41% of their 3’s this season) and he doesn’t want his opponent to do so. With the players SMU has, Brown can use just about any strategy he wants and win, but against Temple on Sunday he witnessed the Owls make 14-of-29 3’s to open up a comfortable lead in the second half.
The SMU loss also concludes the season’s unbeaten tweets. This season, I produced individual tweets for every team in the nation and it was received with mixed reviews. Many people flashed their twitter police badges, demanding an end to the unbeaten tweets, and many followers were lost. I’m particularly going to miss Boog Sciambi. (Why was Northern Arizona the tipping point, Boog?)
by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 22, 2016
Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 15th and Thursday, January 21st…Biggest upsets
3) Duke and Savannah State not losing on the same day. Duke and Savannah State haven’t lost on the same day since December 6th of ‘08 mainly because Duke almost always wins when it’s playing on the same day as Savannah State. But this past week, the Blue Devils lost consecutive games at home to Notre Dame and Syracuse. Savannah State also played at home on Saturday and Monday, but Tiger Arena isn’t exactly Cameron Indoor and neither game was a lock. Savannah State knew what was on the line in both cases, and in both games the Tigers came through with a victory. This week, each squad is on the road for a Saturday-Monday swing, and they also both play on the road next Saturday, so the streak is bound to end soon, unless you believe in destiny or something stupid like that.
by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, January 19, 2016
This season’s preseason rankings included a better prediction for a team’s pace that was primarily based on the head coach’s history. The prediction used up to five seasons of a coach’s past to project tempo for this season. In the case of new head coaches, the model just regressed the team’s previous season pretty heavily back to the D-I average.
In addition to providing a better prediction, it provides a better starting point to find the coaches that have changed their style the most this season. The average error on the tempo predictions has been about 1.7 possessions to this point, but not all of the predictions were spot on. (Technically only one was: St. Bonaventure is currently 0.005 possessions off of its projection, which makes Mark Schmidt’s club the most predictable team this season.)
Some teams have deviated quite a bit from what was expected. Among coaches with previous D-I experience, these five have changed the most this season.
by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 15, 2016
Here are the most extreme things to happen in college basketball between Friday, January 8th and Thursday, January 14th…Biggest upsets
1) #343 Bradley 54, #229 Loyola Chicago 53  (10%), Wednesday. There was only one major upset this week and that’s fine with me because the Bradley Braves deserve some attention. Specifically, the Braves offense, which ranks 351st in the country. They may not finish that way since they are among three teams that have separated themselves from the rest of the country. But the other two are Florida A&M and Prairie View, teams that play in the two worst conferences in the land. Bradley plays in the Valley, a conference that could send multiple teams to the NCAA tournament.
Bradley is a program that has been to two national title games and has two of the NBA’s top 150 scorers. The Braves play in beautiful Carver Arena which should attract some local hoopsters with scoring competence. Yet this season’s squad ranks 351st in turnover percentage, 350th in three-point percentage, 319th in two-point percentage, and 280th in offensive rebounding percentage. They haven’t sniffed a point per possession yet, and that includes a game against D-II Maryville.
It’s Brian Wardle’s first season at Bradley, and no doubt that has its own set of challenges. Anyway, this isn’t about ridiculing Bradley, so much as admiring an outlier. The Braves have now won two games against D-I teams and both were by a score of 54-53. I’m not into if you score X you’ll win, but X=60 against Bradley it’s hard to lose. The Ramblers didn’t and they paid the price.
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.
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.
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  (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.
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.
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.
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.