Mar 17, 2009

2009: The Return to Chaotic Final Fours

Here's just a quick look at something that I found peering through past wheelings and dealings of recent tournaments:

Years 2004-2008

- First off, this whole idea that "parity is alive and well in college basketball. We have seen a shift" is a little strong to say. Last year 4 number 1's made the final 4 and the year before it was two 1's and two 2's. Hardly a trend shift before we've even seen how this tournament plays out, but no doubt, a different year from the last two.

- Now compare the previous two years to the two years before that and finally back to 2004 regarding total seed counts in the final four:

2008 - 4 (All four number 1's)
2007 - 6 (Florida repeat year)
2006 - 20 (George Mason and no number 1's made it)
2005 - 11 (MSU and Louisville outside of the top 3 seeds)
2004 - 8 (two 2's, a 3 and a 1 in this one)

So, just looking at those recent numbers, there appears to be a good amount of variance. Is there one particular variable that perhaps we can apply a broad stroke to look at what created the crazy (2006) vs. the expected (2008).

When in doubt, let's look towards the greatness of efficiency margin.

As avid followers of all things tempo-free, you by now understand the importance of looking at a team's efficiency margin.
Most recently, Mr Gasaway posted this year's conference numbers for tourney teams here
Also, in the past we've looked at effiency margins of winners/losers/upsets here and here

In those past analysis, we compared the top 3 seed lines, as a way to evaluate the overall "power" of that year's top teams.

Let's reorganize the tourney year's by the average efficiency margin of the teams 3 seed and higher.

Again, all of these numbers are courtesy of the king of TFS,
All numbers are overall season-long numbers, including non-conference but weighted for Strength-of-schedule.

YearSeed TotalEff. Margin
2008 4.33
2007 6.33
2004 8.29
2005 11.28
2006 20.26

Just eye-balling, you can see the nice dependent order of the numbers.
Apply a quick test and you get a correlation coefficient of -.893.
-1 would be a perfectly negative correlation (every change in eff. margin has an exact change in seed totals)
Very very small data set, but it has given me a reason to expand back to 1999.
That will be coming shortly.

Stop back for the final analysis.

2009's numbers?
.27 average efficiency margin within the top 3 seed lines.
Slide rule linear test (aka, extremely rough) results in a total of 14 for the seed total of this year's final 4.

Oh boy. Hang on tight.

There's just one quick thing to pull from this early analysis.
While the general position has been that this year's tournament should be pretty wide open, and that this season has been extremely wide open (just look at the conference tournaments), this quick look backs up that position with a little bit of history and numbers.

Mar 16, 2009

Updated past stats

I've awakened from the dead.

Updates to this Post about seed results will be coming soon as I do my own research and post it.

Nov 22, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have Ourselves a Battle

Perusing around, Bearcats bball blog noted another insanity of tempo free bran flakes:

A 122 possession masterpiece.

Take that VMI.
The battle for tempo supremecy is on.

Nov 15, 2008

A Fresh Slate With a Familiar Ally

It's November. There's snow falling at football games.
It's time for delicious match-ups like Virginia Military Institute vs. Kentucky

VMI has always been a favorite here at TFS.

So, it comes as no surprise that they would put up this nugget to start off the season and shock the Wildcat faithful:

VMI 111 - Kentucky 103
93 possession game
Wildcats turned it over on over 26% of their possessions in this track meet.

If this is any indication of the season to come, I think we're in for a good year.

Mar 18, 2008

Planting the NCAA Seeds

*This is a post I worked up last year and now I've updated with the 2007 numbers. It's just a helpful guide to see what it takes, flat-out numbers-wise to produce a Final Four team and eventual champion. Picking that random 5-12 upset may score you bonus points, but you'll never be in contention unless you've got the champion, finalists and final four nailed down. *

This takes the stats off of and gives us the basic tempo-free breakdowns of the past 4 tournaments' teams. Obviously, as with all stats, this is isn't anywhere near the end-all be-all, just another tool in the shed to use in trying to fill out that pesky bracket better than your 10 year old neighbor kid.

The first two tables are averages for the 4 years, with the data for each year just below those tables. The first one showcases all Final Four teams and their averages. The second just looks at the top 3 seeds, to get some type of idea of what characteristics a pretender, or contender holds in the top 3 seed lines. The goal always is to get the most teams in your bracket to the final four. Hopefully, this gives a little insight as to what to look for in the "better" and "overrated" top 3 seeded teams this year.

Finalists in Bold. Champions in italics.

(Bonus statistical note: The averages are straight averages, not averages off of the raw numbers. So keep that in mind. It may render these averages completely useless. Maybe not.)

Pos: Possessions/40 minutes
Oeff: Offensive Efficiency. Points-per-possession
Deff: Defensive Efficiency.
Margin: Oeff - Deff
Efg: Effective field goal shooting percentage
TO: Turnover rate (turnovers per 100 possessions)
Oreb: Offensive rebounding rate (offensive rebounds per rebound opportunity)
Defg: Effective FG % allowed
Dto: Turnover rate forced
Doreb: Offensive rebounding % allowed

All Final Four Teams



Averages for the Top 3 seeds based on their finish (Ex: Final 4 - Averages for all Top 3 seeds that made the final four)

Final 466.91.210.870.3455%20%36%45%45%22%31%
Didn't make Final 467.

1North Carolina73.11.240.860.3854%18%40%47%47%21%30%
1Ohio St.
3Washington St.
3Texas A&M651.20.870.3456%18%34%43%43%22%30%
Final 4Florida66.81.250.870.3860%21%38%45%45%19%28%
Final 4UCLA64.31.170.840.3354%18%33%48%48%23%30%
Final 4Georgetown59.91.250.890.3657%22%40%44%44%19%34%
Final 4Ohio St.


3North Carolina72.
Final 4Florida68.61.190.870.3257%21%35%45%45%22%31%
Final 4George Mason64.
Final 4UCLA63.41.120.840.2853%22%36%46%46%22%29%
Final 4Louisiana St.


1North Carolina73.71.260.880.3856%21%39%46%46%23%30%
2Oklahoma St.
2Wake Forest701.250.960.2956%20%40%50%50%20%30%
Final 4Illinois64.91.230.880.3556%17%34%47%47%22%29%
Final 4Louisville67.
Final 4North Carolina73.71.260.880.3856%21%39%46%46%23%30%
Final 4Michigan St.


1St. Joseph's681.180.880.3156%17%28%44%44%24%35%
2Oklahoma St.661.20.880.3356%20%36%46%46%22%30%
2Mississippi St.
3Georgia Tech70.21.140.850.2953%21%31%44%44%27%34%
3North Carolina St.
Final 4Oklahoma St.661.20.880.3356%20%36%46%46%22%30%
Final 4Georgia Tech70.21.140.850.2953%21%31%44%44%27%34%
Final 4Duke69.81.240.850.3853%19%38%45%45%24%35%
Final 4Connecticut69.61.20.850.3553%19%41%42%42%17%29%

Mar 12, 2008

It's been a strange year

Obviously, as you can tell, I haven't been able to stay with this site that much this season for a variety of reasons. I'm going to do a final update tomorrow of the conference stats for 2008.

The best time of the year is just beginning...

Feb 22, 2008

Pac 10 Statistical Variation Snapsot

Well, a bunch of numbers were sitting in front of me, so I felt it was time to do some miscellaneous analysis. Below is just a brief snapshot of each team's best and worst stat based on their variation from the average of the conference.

Pac-10 games through 2/18

Hits the 3, but they don't pull in their misses. Probably due to their high percentage of shots that are 3's (35%)

Best - 3-pt%. Shooting 40.4%, above the 34.7% average
Worst - Offensive rebounding. Pulling in only 23.9% of their misses vs. 30.7% average.

Arizona St.
Not much variance from the means, but a few telling signs for the Sun Devils.

Best - Forces their opponents to turnover the ball on 20.3% of their possessions vs. the avg of 18.7%
Worst - Offensive rebounding. 25.3% VS. 30.7% average.

Not much to look at this club. Had to dig for the "best" stat. There were plenty of "worst" stats to look at

Best - 1.09 PPP vs. 1.046 conference average. Yeah, like I said, nothing eye-popping
Worst - Only forcing turnovers on 15.8% of their opponent's possessions vs. conference average of 18.7%. Hence a 1.13 PPP average for their opponents.

A snapshot of a team that has significantly dropped from last year.

Best - Shooting 54.3% efg vs. 49.8% average. (better than last year)
Worst - Not forcing turnovers. 15.3% of opponents possessions end in turnovers. Forced 19.7% last year.

Oregon St.
Not much to be proud of this season. Had to really scrape to find a "best"

Best - 17.3% turnover average is at least below the conference average of 18.7%
Worst - Well, the most off-the-mean stat posted, was that of the Beavers' .9 PPP average, vs. the 1.046 average, which during an average 64 possession game works out to 10 points below the average.

Defense is the name of the game for this squad in 2008, making up for their sub-par shooting.

Best - 42% efg average allowed, vs. the conference 49.8% average.
Worst - 45.9% efg shooting on the offensive end, vs. the conference average of 49.8%.

Beast of the Pac10, balance is what drives the Bruins as their variance on both ends isn't as large as Stanford's.

Best - They grab over 78% of their opponents' misses vs. the average of 69.3%. Second chances, beware!
Worst - As has been documented over at, opponent 3-pt shooting tends more towards the mean, but their average of 36.5% given up vs. the 34.7% conference avg. is the largest "bad" difference from any average.

If they get a shot off, it goes in more than often. Highlight that "if"

Best - They shoot 56.4% on their 2's, vs. the average of 48.8% conference-wide
Worst - 22.2% of their possessions result in turnovers. This versus the conference average of 18.7%

Even the Appleby shooting machine can't help their average, but they pull in their misses.

Best - Rebounds 38.1% of their misses vs. 30.7% average. They're helped by only lofting up 26.8% of their shots from beyond the arc
Worst - Only hitting 31.3% of their 3's vs. 34.7% average. Good thing they don't shoot as many.

Washington St.
Bennett has this team dialed into a protective offense and a swarming defense.

Best - Only 16% of their possessions end in turnovers.
Worst - They force their opponents into a turnover 21.8% of the time vs. the 18.7% average.

Feb 15, 2008

Don't Turn the Ball over and Look What Happens!

Rutgers 63     West Virginia 81

Just wanted to highlight this bubble game (for WVA) for an example of how a team can manage to shoot 8 percentage points worse than your opposition yet still come out ahead by 18 points.

This medium-paced (sorry for the Sandler reference) contest of 67 possessions saw The Mountaineers post a 1.205 PPP average vs. Rutgers' .937 average. How did they do that when WVA shot only 47% and The Scarlet Knights shot 55%?
West Virginia turned the ball over a paltry 4 times in the game compared to Rutgers' 17 times for a respective 6% to 25% turnover average! Heck, I'll gladly shoot 47% if I know that I'm getting a shot off on 94% of the possessions.
Couple that with Rutgers only grabbing 17% of their misses and you have yourself a rout.

Bonus note: Rutgers shot 44% on 16 three-point attempts

Feb 7, 2008

Thursday Night Beast Action

UCLA 67     Washington St. 59

The Bruins continued their march as the definitive beast of the Pac10 with a big win in Pullman tonight while the Cougs continued their downward spiral in the table thanks to a balanced and efficient night from Kevin Love and to an offensive rebounding clinic put on by the entire UCLA team.
This 62 possession game saw UCLA post a 1.09 PPP average vs. Wazzu's sub-par .96. UCLA made up for a poor 25% 3pt shooting night by grabbing over 52% of their total misses and by holding Wazzu to a measly 20% offensive rebounding average.
The game was essentially a draw for 35 minutes until UCLA broke out and climbed to a 9 point lead with just over 3 to go thanks to a two minute span of 3 turnovers and only one attempted (and missed) shot over the course of those 2 minutes for Wazzu.

This game essentially was a snapshot of what UCLA has done all season. Rebound the heck out of you, lock down on D and shoot just well enough to finish off a game.

Feb 4, 2008


Fixed. 2/6/08