by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, February 4, 2005
After thinking "outside the box" for last week's stat, I'm going to keep it basic this week and go with assist percentage, which is the percentage of field goals that are assisted on.
A% = assists/field goals made
The results (see the stats page) are a little surprising, given that "sharing the basketball" is always viewed as a good thing. With UNC (3rd) and Illinois (12th) near the top of A%, it's easy to think that this stat is a key to success, and I've heard that a lot lately. But Duke (299th), Texas (295th), and Villanova (308th) are among the worst teams at assisting, and all three sport very efficient offenses.
For the most part it appears that increased assist percentage correlates to a more efficient offense. But as is the case in college basketball, the exceptions are what spice things up. So I'd love to hear any…
by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, February 3, 2005
Tonight, Saint Mary's visits Gonzaga where the Zags will be looking to avenge an early January loss to the Gaels in Moraga. If Gonzaga loses tonight, they fall two games behind Saint Mary's in the WCC race. Gonzaga is a solid favorite to win, and they have been steady in the new Kennel this season. But with a loss, Gonzaga would be in serious danger of not winning the conference's regular season title for the first time since 2000. Both of these teams are heavily imbalanced, with Gonzaga winning with offense and Saint Mary's (winners of 13 out of 14) successful with defense. The first matchup was played under Gonzaga rules, with both teams shooting over 50%.
The big news from yesterday was at Iowa, where Steve Alford and Pierre Pierce parted ways. Headlines today are some derivative of "Iowa's leading scorer Pierce booted off team." Conventional wisdom says…
by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Perhaps no team in major college basketball has changed its personality from last season as much as the Arizona Wildcats. Last season they were an up-tempo offensive machine, but prone to giving up too many easy baskets. This season, with Ivan Radenovic eating up a lot of the minutes vacated by NBA early-entry Andre Iguodala, the Wildcats are more controlled and efficient defensively, but prone to stretches where they have difficulty scoring.
We can get an idea of a team's personality by comparing their major stats (in adjusted form) - tempo, offensive efficiency, and defensive efficiency - to every other team in college basketball. Sum the percentage difference in each category and the resulting number is the similarity between two teams. The lower the number, the more similar two teams are. It's a device I'll call the Basketball ShrinkTM.
For instance, the Shrink says the following five teams…
by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, February 1, 2005
Back from a weekend of getting out of the house and watching some hoops in-person, I return with the following tidbits...
ESPN announced the February 19th Bracket Buster schedule on Monday. Surely one of the cadre of personalities at The Mid-Majority will have an in-depth breakdown of the key matchups with the proper aplomb that can't be provided here. The headline game is Vermont/Nevada in a rematch of a first round preseason NIT game last season which the Wolf Pack won convincingly, 69-49.
Once again, the ESPN matchmakers ignored geography. It's one thing to send Vermont to Reno or the U. of Buffalo to Fresno in the name of good TV, but another to send 10-9 Cal State Northridge to Bridgeport, Connecticut to play 10-9 Fairfield.
Florida International and Arkansas Little Rock participated in a Sun Belt classic for the ages on Sunday in
by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, January 27, 2005
The stats page has been updated through Wednesday's action. The bonus stat is Shot Attempt Difference. It represents the number of additional shots a team gets per 100 possessions as compared to its opponent. It's essentially a measure of how much of an advantage a team has in the turnover and rebounding departments.
A shot is defined by FGA + .42 x FTA, so possessions spent at the free throw line are also included.
I haven't had the time to scrutinize the numbers, but the top of the SAD list has a diverse group of teams. Houston's big advantage in shot attempts comes entirely from the three point line, where they make less than a third of their shots. Hence, their offensive efficiency is very low. Arizona has fewer turnovers than the opposition and has a rebounding advantage, but not as much in either category as Kentucky. Air…
by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, January 26, 2005
If you ever hear the level of success of a team's offense or defense described in terms of points scored or allowed per game, you should ignore it. Among stats published by the NCAA, field goal percentage is much more valuable. But among stats not endorsed by the NCAA, points per possession is better still. A couple of things I saw yesterday used points per game in a misleading way to make a point.
Example 1) Tuesday night at halftime of the Illinois/Wisconsin game, a stat was posted in defense of Doug Gottlieb's claim that Wisconsin was the most overrated team in the Big Ten. It compared the points per game they have given up this season (60.5) to last season (57.2). (If memory serves, the numbers used were during Big Ten play only, where the gap was larger than the overall numbers I am using.)
To which the viewer…
by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Today, I bring you an exciting presentation about rules. (For those of you looking for hype on the Illinois/Wisconsin game, you should know the drill by now. Big Ten Wonk will not only have coverage, but coverage of the coverage, along with a steady diet of acronyms, all wrapped in a college-level vocabulary.)
The data is in, and in what should not be a surprise to anyone, the rules experiments for the exempt games of the 2005 season were once again a failure. The numbers for games through December 31st, which include all exempt games for this season, speak for themselves:
Exempt Regular Games Games (169) (1438) Poss/40 min 69.1 69.5 Points/Poss .969 .986 Points/40 min 133.9 137.1 3P FG% 33.7 34.8 2P FG% 47.3 48.0 3PA/FGA (%) 31.7 32.8 Fouls/Poss .272 .266
As a review, the experimental rules for this season included an expanded lane,…
by Ken Pomeroy on Sunday, January 23, 2005
A week from now, we will know the matchups in the third annual Bracket Buster, where mid-majors pool their collective RPI chips to bargain for an extra bid or two into the big dance.
The Bracket Buster takes place on Saturday, February 19th, with ESPN2 televising the best games in a marathon. Starting times are every two hours from noon until midnight eastern, with the exception of 10 pm. The midnight game is on ESPN. From my semi-handy Bracket Buster page (it would be nice to have the teams on that page sorted by RPI Rank, but my limited database skills lack the time to pull this off), here are the top rated teams heading into Monday's action, with record and RPI Rank in parenthesis:
Home Away Pacific (14-2, 30) Southern Illinois (15-4, 14) Kent State (13-6, 35) Vermont (13-3, 17) Nevada (14-4, 37) Wichita State (13-2, 22) Rice…
by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, January 21, 2005
As many of you noticed, there was a problem with the games database for most of the day yesterday. While I'd prefer the data I provide be absolutely correct, the snafu did allow me to realize the interesting cross section of people that check the site. I got e-mails from many fans, nearly-famous people, and a "Damn, I can't believe that guy has time to check the site. Let alone care about its accuracy." Thanks for keeping me in line. Surprisingly, there was not an f-bomb in the bunch. Give yourselves a round of applause.
The Stat o' the Week is "Turnover Percentage." Once again it's a simple one...
Turnovers / Possessions
It's the percentage of offensive possessions that end in a turnover. I have this yet-to-be-confirmed theory that the offense owns the bulk of the responsibility in the turnover. To be overly simplistic, there are two ways a…
by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, January 20, 2005
Cleaning out the inbox this morning...
I'm wondering if you've ever calculated these kinds of numbers for Grinnell College. They lead all NCAA hoops squads in scoring and must top all divisions in possessions. Any numbers on them?
Let's look at the two most notable college teams playing non-basketball.
Both teams are off the chart on tempo considering the fastest D1 team is averaging around 80 possessions a game on the season. The offensive and defensive efficiency numbers are not unexpected given the two teams sacrifice defense to produce offense.
On a related note, Andy Glockner of ESPN.com jumped into the efficiency fray yesterday and latched on to the fact that North Carolina's high tempo and efficiency makes them so scary. In…