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    Passing Fancy

    by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, April 18, 2005

    The best passing team in college hoops last season was Boston College. Illinois was widely admired for their ability to pass the basketball, but they had nothing on BC. I'll define the best passing team to be to be the team that can best make the difficult passes that produce points.

    One of the stats I posted last season was assist percentage. It measured the percentage of a team's field goals that were assisted on. A lot of the stats I posted during the year were meaningless, and assist percentage certainly could be placed in that group. It seemed that assist percentage was mentioned more by TV guys than it ever was in the past. It was all the rage when describing the crisp passing that Illinois often exhibited. But it turned out that across college basketball, assist percentage correlated poorly to an efficient offense.

    Not that there wasn't…


    Closing Credits

    by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, April 6, 2005

    With the 2005 season in the books, posting in this space will return to the usual sporadic off-season frequency. Before I sink into the background, I need to dole out some appreciation to the folks that publicized this site like nobody else could.

    First and foremost, the statistical experiment on this site would not have generated the discussion it did without Luke Winn of and Andy Glockner of referencing the efficiency numbers in their work. In addition, prominent mentions from ESPN's Pat Forde and SI's Grant Wahl brought in untold traffic.

    The following radio people bravely put me live on their air without any safety nets: Jud Easterday and Brian Hanni of KLWN in Lawrence, KS; Willy Daunic of 104.5 The Zone (WGFX) in Nashville; Dave Weekley of WCHS in Charleston, WV; and Tony Caridi of the Mountaineer Sports Network.

    Additionally, there are…


    St. Augustine

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, April 5, 2005

    The biggest single reason why Illinois lost - lack of playing time for James Augustine.

    Augustine picked up five fouls in nine minutes of action. If he gets his usual 27 minutes (or his 33 minute average in five tourney games), the Illini have a better defender for Sean May, Illinois gets more than six trips to the free throw line, and shoots fewer than 40 threes.

    The only time a team shot fewer free throws in the championship game was Dartmouth in 1944!! It was also the most threes shot in finals history. But considering there have only been 19 championship games played with a three-point line, that doesn't put the feat in proper perspective. It was the fourth-most threes shot in any tournament contest - a total of 1,202 games. Luther Head shot 16 threes on his own, equaling the UNC team attempts and breaking the individual…


    Heads Will Roll…

    by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, April 4, 2005 the Blah, Blah, Blah fact checking department.


    I have not researched this and know you are just reporting what I have seen elsewhere but I don't see how UCLA and UK could have been Nos. 1 and 2 before the 1975 NCAA Tournament as IU was undefeated until losing to UK in the Mideast Regional Final and had beat UK by 24 during the regular season.

    I am just wondering whether they continued weekly polling back then and UCLA and Nos. 1 and 2 reflected poll after the Regional Finals.

    I have enjoyed reading your web site throughout the season!


    Quint is exactly right. To be clear, I wasn't just reporting what I heard elsewhere. I did the research myself, using the trusty NCAA Record Book. The book has a section labeled "Final Season Polls." That section has two sub-headings. One labeled "Final Regular Season Polls" which (I…


    Letdown Saturday

    by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, April 3, 2005

    There isn't much that needs to be said about the games on Saturday. Given what happened last weekend, and given the potential for Monday's game, this Saturday will be forgotten before too long.

    I never really got into the Illinois/Louisville game. For a reason I can't explain, I thought the game would not be all that tight. I decided to save my "watching energy" for the second game, which I thought would be close. As the Illini were putting away the Cards in the second half, I couldn't help but think how this kind of dominating performance might make Illinois a favorite against UNC, when the (betting) public consensus for a while has been that UNC was slightly better.

    Then UNC put up the kind of dominating half against Michigan State that folks were used to seeing from them in January. UNC is getting a lot of praise for…


    A One and A Two

    by Ken Pomeroy on Saturday, April 2, 2005

    It hasn't happened yet, but it's a real possibility. The teams ranked one and two before the tournament are a game away from meeting in the championship game. It doesn't happen very often. It happens even less often than I thought. The last time was a long, long time ago.

    Here are all of the instances since the AP poll began in the '49 season that #1 and #2 have met in the final:

    1975 UCLA/Kentucky

    1965 Michigan/UCLA

    1962 Ohio State/Cincinnati

    1961 Ohio State/Cincinnati

    1957 UNC/Kansas

    1949 Kentucky/Oklahoma State


    5,094 Games Down, 3 to Go

    by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, March 31, 2005

    Michigan State has played its three fastest games of the year in the Big Ten or NCAA tournament. Knowing what we know about UNC, the second of Saturday's semifinal games figures to be played with 70-80 possessions, but only seven of those possessions are going to tell the story of this game.

    Much has been made about UNC's defense this week. Michigan State as a five-seed, is not a huge underdog, mainly because of their ability to score and the Tar Heels perceived inability to prevent the score. But is UNC's defense really a liability?

    They had ascended to the number one spot in the adjusted defensive efficiency rankings after holding Clemson to 56 points on February 19th. This completed a remarkable ten-week span of championship-level defense where over 21 consecutive games, UNC allowed a point per possession only twice. This period covered three quarters of the ACC…


    I Love Me, I Love Me Not

    by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, March 30, 2005

    As the season concludes, it might be useful to see where we have come from. So here's a review of the season through nine notable predictions made on this site over the past year, some on the money, some so far off I wonder why anyone comes here:

    Good: September 20, 2004. It is interesting that [Wake Forest is] getting a little more press than a team in their own conference, North Carolina, who also returns everyone from last season and has the only impact recruit between the two teams. Nobody would dispute that UNC was the better of the two this season. But back in September, a majority favored Wake to have the better season, which didn't make sense to me at the time.

    Not so good: November 4, 2004. It's ridiculous to read anything into an exhibition game, but it's not ridiculous to point out that…



    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, March 29, 2005

    Few things in the NCAA tournament are predictable. But one thing that slipped under my radar before the dance started was the near impossibility of Washington making the Final Four.

    You see, since the field expanded to 64 in 1985, only one team has started the season outside the AP top 20, been selected as a one-seed, and made the Final Four. The first two parts are not unusual. Washington was the 11th team in 21 years to get a one-seed without being in the preseason top 20 (they started at #22). But only Minnesota in 1997 was able to carry that burden to the Final Four. UW became the seventh of those 11 teams to lose in the sweet sixteen or earlier.

    It's a shame I didn't remember this until now, especially because I wrote about it in September.


    What If…

    by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, March 28, 2005

    There was no better illustration of how random chance can affect a game than on Patrick Sparks' successful three-pointer to send the Kentucky/Michigan State game to overtime. There were three main variables that could have flipped the other way from what actually occurred.

    1) What if Patrick Sparks' foot is a micron closer to the basket, and so it's only a two- point attempt?

    2) What if Kelvin Torbert (or "Torbit" as Jim Nantz says) is called for a foul on Sparks?

    3) What if Sparks' shot falls off the rim instead of through?

    Then consider each of the eight possible combinations to the yes/no answers of the above questions. Only one of those - Sparks makes a three, foul is called - potentially results in a UK win. Nonetheless, these are the things that will keep me up at night if the Spartans win two more games.



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