As part of the next generation of the Pomeroy Ratings, I’ll be removing the effect of opponents free throw shooting. In the grand scheme of things, this is a low-grade improvement and there are bigger fish to fry in improving the system. For most teams, opponents collectively shoot about what they should over the course of the season. But there are some teams that saw large deviations last season.
Here are the teams that saw opponents underachieve the most at the line last season:
Syracuse -37.9 Tennesse Martin -35.0 Boston U -28.9 Auburn -28.2 Canisius -24.3
What this means is that Syracuse’s opponents made 38 fewer free throws than we would have expected from their season-long percentages. That’s 38 points that Syracuse basically got through no effort of their own (unless they had a strategic plan to foul the opposing team’s worst shooters on a regular basis). Plugging and chugging into the Pythagorean Formula, we’d expect the Orange to benefit from this anomaly by about one win over their 35-game schedule. So again, ignoring those 38 points wouldn’t provide a huge adjustment to my ratings, but for accuracy’s sake, it’s something worth doing.
For completeness, here are the teams that were hurt the most by their opponents’ unusually good free throw shooting:
La Salle 33.8 Marshall 32.0 Montana St. 30.6 Pepperdine 28.9 Temple 26.8
Only a handful of teams were affected by opponents’ hot or cold free throw shooting in a meaningful way, but this is another tweak that should make the ratings marginally better in indicating a team’s true strength.