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    Bubble Wrap

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, February 15, 2005


    Begrudgingly, I submit my look at the at-large picture. In my patented piecemeal approach, I am adding bubble teams this week. This is probably more for my benefit than yours, so if you think I've missed something - maybe I have! Drop me a line to let me know.

    I've had to ax three teams from the lock list I produced last week.

    Texas - The reasons for the removal of Texas from this list were given last week in this space. Texas is still limping badly, evidenced by an overtime home win against Kansas State last Saturday, when the Longhorns went 11 for 20 from three. They are totally at the mercy of bombs and excellent defense from here on out.

    Minnesota - Individually, a home loss to Northwestern or a road loss to Indiana are not back-breakers. But together they hurt a lot, especially since…

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    The Lost Episode

    by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, February 14, 2005


    On Saturday, there were two comebacks that will forever be remembered by fans of the teams involved in the games. UNLV's was the most impressive - an 11-1 run over the last 22 seconds against San Diego State to force overtime. But the most significant was Pacific's 11-2 run in the final 27 ticks to win at Utah State. It was only UoP's second win in 32 tries in Logan, and would seem to give them control of their own destiny in the at-large race.

    Pat Forde has a nice (and free!) edition of Forde Minutes on espn.com, giving additional details on both games (example: Steve Fisher's teams are 1-11 in overtime). There are also some other nuggets using the AP poll to show that Cinderella is dead when it comes to Final Four access. Parity, schmarity.

    [Update: Reader Jeff reveals another amazing - but more drawn…

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    Defensive Assist Percentage

    by Ken Pomeroy on Friday, February 11, 2005


    This blog has been one-dimensional this season: it can shoot the three, it can dish the rock, but it plays no defense. Today, I look at a defensive statistic that gets little press - the ability to prevent assists. See the stats page for the defensive assist percentage of all 330 teams.

    Defensive assist percentage = assists allowed/total possessions

    On Wednesday, the North Carolina Tar Heels were bottled up for 40 minutes like no other time this ACC season. They didn't get many points on the fast break, and they didn't get easy points out of the half-court set. UNC, a team that averages two assists on every three field goals made, had only ten assists in 25 made buckets. Shocking.

    Or was it? In fact, there must be some skill at preventing fast breaks, preventing the smooth flow of the offense in the half-court, and…

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    More on Assistststss

    by Ken Pomeroy on Thursday, February 10, 2005


    What you may have missed last night:

    1) Miami Ohio and Kent State both won tight MAC road games, staying on a collision course for a March 2 showdown between the conference's two most deserving at-large teams. Miami's win was tainted by buzzer-beating controversy.

    The headline on the above Miami link at the time of this posting:

    RedHawks Pull Out Close 54-54 Win at Ball State

    This article explains why the game should have gone to overtime.

    [Update: the Muncie Star Press has produced a brief documentary video of the final moments.]

    2) There was a rare late-season showdown to settle the debate between the nation's biggest underachievers. Missouri won, er...lost, 74-71 to UNLV.

    -

    I got a few thoughtful responses on a contradiction posed last Friday regarding teams with efficient offenses that don't get many assists. Dear reader Matt broke out…

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    Texas Toast

    by Ken Pomeroy on Wednesday, February 9, 2005


    I posted 32 tournament locks on Monday, and by Tuesday night, I no longer had confidence in one of them. Injury-riddled Texas is reeling after getting routed in Boulder, despite a 27 and 21 performance from Brad Buckman.

    The character of the team has changed since the nearly simultaneous loss of starters PJ Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge for the season. These were the two best interior scorers for the Longhorns, and as you might expect, Texas has become more of a jumpshooting team in their absence.

    Here's a chronological breakdown of the Longhorns' shooting percentage, and percentage of shots coming from three for games this season. I've weeded out the patsies on the non-conference schedule.

     FG% 3PA/FGA Result 45.9 34.4 vs Iowa, L 82-80 52.4 39.7 vs Tennessee, W 95-70 39.3 30.4 at Seton Hall, W 70-62 48.5 35.3 at Wake Forest, L 89-88 51.8 33.9 vs UNLV,… 
    

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    Two Utes

    by Ken Pomeroy on Tuesday, February 8, 2005


    Ken,

    Utah has won their last 14 games by DD's (10+). Is this some kind of record? What is the record for consecutive games winning by DD's? It's gotta be approaching. If they get UNLV by 10 tonight, they should get to at least 16 with CSU at home next.

    Ryan

    I have to confess, once Rick Majerus and the Utes parted ways, I never thought I would see the words "Utah" and "double-Ds" in the same sentence. But Ryan came through. This question lost its relevance since Utah blew a late 13-point lead to UNLV last night, and won by only four. However, in a brief internet search, I did manage to find a 23-game double-digit streak pulled off by the '74-'75 Indiana team.

    The more perplexing question now is: what to make of these Utes? They're like the Cincinnati of the West. Only there's no Louisville-type…

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    Battle Ready?

    by Ken Pomeroy on Monday, February 7, 2005


    A question to get the week started: Who is the only D1 team that has yet to experience a game that was six points or closer at the end of regulation? Read on for the answer.

    Now that an undefeated season by Illinois can be officially termed 'realistic,' we're going to see the usual diet of columns addressing whether a regular season loss would be good for them. Seth Davis got the ball rolling last week. He made the case that a regular season loss is beneficial, though he used circular reasoning.

    I'm not as interested in the can-they questions as much as the big should-they question, as in: Do you really want to go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated?

    My answer to that is no -- unequivocally, immutably, unquestionably, no. The last team to win a championship without a loss was Indiana in 1976. There's a reason nobody…

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    Assist Percentage

    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…

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    Changing of the Guard

    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…

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    Basketball ShrinkTM

    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…

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