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January 18, 2011
Tuesday Truths
First Look at the ACC

by John Gasaway

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Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where we look at how well the 157 teams in the nation's top 14 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis. (For a tidy little homily on why this stuff is so very awesome, go here.)

The following ten conferences have played enough games for us to take a closer look at what's happened so far. Tune in next week for our first full-strength 14-league edition, including the Big 12, SEC, C-USA, and West Coast.

ACC: Please read the warning label

Through games of January 17, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP - Opp. PPP)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Clemson           2-1   65.5    1.20    1.06    +0.14
2.  Virginia Tech     2-2   65.9    1.06    0.93    +0.13
3.  Duke              3-1   70.2    1.00    0.90    +0.10
4.  Boston College    3-1   66.7    1.17    1.08    +0.09
5.  Florida St.       3-1   70.2    1.01    0.97    +0.04
6.  Maryland          1-2   72.3    0.98    0.94    +0.04
7.  NC State          1-2   68.1    1.11    1.12    -0.01
8.  North Carolina    2-1   69.8    0.88    0.93    -0.05
9.  Georgia Tech      1-2   71.0    1.01    1.08    -0.07
10. Miami             1-2   63.5    1.09    1.18    -0.09
11. Virginia          1-2   62.0    0.93    1.03    -0.10
12. Wake Forest       0-3   69.0    0.91    1.25    -0.34

AVG.                        67.8    1.03

It's early but I thought, what the heck, let's look at these numbers anyway. Clemson and Boston College are scoring some serious points under first-year head coaches Brad Brownell and Steve Donahue, respectively. In Chapel Hill they'd like a little of that scoring to rub off on the Tar Heels. And as for the defending national champions in nearby Durham, scoring a point per trip isn't going to get it done. I trust we'll be seeing that number go up in the very near future, as Duke hits the road to take on NC State and Wake Forest.

Big East: Repeat after me -- Pitt has a very good offense

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Pitt              6-0   66.0    1.19    1.01    +0.18
2.  Villanova         4-1   67.7    1.13    0.98    +0.15
3.  Syracuse          5-1   65.6    1.07    0.95    +0.12
4.  Marquette         3-2   65.7    1.16    1.08    +0.08
5.  West Virginia     3-2   66.3    1.12    1.05    +0.07
6.  Connecticut       4-2   63.6    1.05    0.99    +0.06
7.  Louisville        3-1   70.3    1.08    1.03    +0.05
8.  Cincinnati        3-2   65.0    1.02    0.98    +0.04
9.  St. John's        4-2   66.1    1.01    1.01     0.00
10. Georgetown        2-4   61.9    1.05    1.10    -0.05
11. Notre Dame        3-3   65.5    0.98    1.04    -0.06
12. S. Florida        1-5   64.7    1.03    1.12    -0.09
13. Rutgers           1-4   64.9    1.03    1.13    -0.10
14. Seton Hall        2-4   66.8    0.89    1.00    -0.11
15. Providence        0-6   71.8    0.99    1.13    -0.14
16. DePaul            0-5   68.1    0.97    1.14    -0.17

AVG.                        66.3    1.05

How good a program has Jamie Dixon built at Pitt? Last year the Panthers were young and raw -- and went 13-5. They were over-seeded as a 3, but that's kind of my point. When the floor for your program is a 3-seed, you are in a happy place.

Big Ten: Boilers tops in high-scoring low-possession league

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Purdue            4-1   66.0    1.17    0.96    +0.21
2.  Illinois          3-2   63.1    1.14    1.04    +0.10
3.  Ohio St.          5-0   62.1    1.15    1.07    +0.08
4.  Wisconsin         3-2   57.5    1.13    1.05    +0.08
5.  Michigan St.      4-1   61.9    1.02    0.98    +0.04
6.  Minnesota         3-3   61.0    1.07    1.08    -0.01
7.  Penn St.          3-3   61.4    1.07    1.10    -0.03
8.  Northwestern      2-4   67.5    1.07    1.11    -0.04
9.  Indiana           1-4   62.5    1.12    1.20    -0.08
10. Michigan          1-4   59.7    1.05    1.20    -0.15
11. Iowa              0-5   65.9    0.99    1.20    -0.21

AVG.                        62.7    1.09

As of this week the Big Ten is home to the No. 1-ranked team in the land, the Ohio State Buckeyes. But my fellow downstate Illinoisan Thad Matta would be the first to say that No. 1-ranked teams should outscore their opponents by more than 0.08 points per trip. Maybe Ohio State will start living up to that description. Meantime Purdue's been the best team in conference play and it's not even close.

Pac-10: Performing to expectations

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Washington        5-1   69.1    1.15    0.95    +0.20
2.  Arizona           4-1   68.5    1.08    0.96    +0.12
3.  Stanford          3-2   64.1    0.97    0.91    +0.06
4.  Washington St.    3-3   69.0    1.02    0.99    +0.03
5.  UCLA              3-2   66.8    0.97    0.97     0.00
6.  USC               2-3   64.0    1.00    1.00     0.00
7.  Oregon St.        3-3   70.6    1.03    1.08    -0.05
8.  Cal               2-3   67.9    1.04    1.12    -0.08
9.  Oregon            1-5   67.4    0.92    1.06    -0.14
10. Arizona St.       1-4   63.3    0.91    1.06    -0.15

AVG.                        67.1    1.01

In the preseason everyone said that Washington and Arizona would be the class of the Pac-10, and it's looking very much like everyone was right. Though it's early, the Huskies and Wildcats would appear to have the only two offenses in the league that can give opposing coaches -- in or out of the conference -- pause.

A-10: The warning label here is more or less permanent

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Xavier            3-0   63.1    1.23    0.90    +0.33
2.  Duquesne          3-0   67.8    1.08    0.86    +0.22
3.  GW                3-0   70.7    1.05    0.90    +0.15
4.  Temple            3-1   68.8    1.00    0.86    +0.14
5.  Richmond          2-1   68.7    1.13    0.99    +0.14
6.  Dayton            2-2   60.6    1.03    1.01    +0.02
7.  Charlotte         1-2   63.3    1.02    1.05    -0.03
8.  Saint Louis       1-3   61.5    0.87    0.96    -0.09
9.  UMass             2-1   63.5    0.94    1.05    -0.11
10. Rhode Island      2-1   63.7    0.94    1.05    -0.11
11. St. Bonaventure   1-2   62.9    0.95    1.07    -0.12
12. La Salle          0-3   69.3    0.99    1.12    -0.13
13. Saint Joseph's    0-4   65.5    0.93    1.09    -0.16
14. Fordham           0-3   68.5    0.80    1.04    -0.24

AVG.                        65.6    1.00

The Atlantic 10 is funky. Each team has 13 league opponents, yet each team plays just 16 conference games. Not to mention the A-10 spans a wide range of Pomeroy rankings, everything from Temple's No. 33 to Fordham's No. 247. Basically there's no other Tuesday Truths conference where the schedule-maker is so important. Depending on whether you've played Richmond or Rhode Island, your numbers here will take on a different coloring, especially in January. That being said, you'd never know from these numbers that Rhode Island won at Richmond. As I said, funky.

Colonial: Or maybe "the Amendments"?...

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  George Mason      4-2   62.6    1.19    1.02    +0.17
2.  James Madison     5-1   67.9    1.14    0.98    +0.16
3.  VCU               5-1   61.8    1.08    0.97    +0.11
4.  Hofstra           5-1   65.8    1.14    1.03    +0.11
5.  Old Dominion      4-2   59.6    1.03    0.97    +0.06
6.  Drexel            3-3   63.6    0.99    0.99     0.00
7.  Georgia St.       3-3   66.8    0.97    0.99    -0.02
8.  Delaware          3-3   60.7    1.03    1.09    -0.06
9.  UNC-Wilmington    3-3   62.2    0.98    1.05    -0.07
10. William & Mary    1-5   60.3    1.03    1.11    -0.08
11. Towson            0-6   61.7    0.99    1.18    -0.19
12. Northeastern      0-6   58.8    1.00    1.20    -0.20

AVG.                        62.7    1.05

I'd like to say that James Madison is going to continue to surprise people because, I don't know, they went 4-14 last year. I am also duty-bound to point out, however, that the Dukes' conference schedule to this point has not included any opponent ranked higher than No. 7 on this list. That changes starting tomorrow night, when JMU visits Old Dominion. (BONUS James Madison note! Why on earth aren't their teams known as the Bills? You know, as in "of Rights"? Just a thought.)

Horizon: What a difference a year makes

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Cleveland St.     5-2   66.4    1.07    0.95    +0.12
2.  Valparaiso        6-1   64.9    1.05    0.95    +0.10
3.  Butler            5-2   64.6    1.12    1.03    +0.09
4.  Wright St.        5-2   62.1    1.06    0.98    +0.08
5.  Green Bay         4-3   66.4    1.04    1.01    +0.03
6.  Detroit           4-3   68.3    1.08    1.06    +0.02
7.  Milwaukee         4-4   64.5    1.06    1.08    -0.02
8.  Loyola            2-6   64.0    0.99    1.04    -0.05
9.  UIC               0-7   65.0    0.97    1.14    -0.17
10. Youngstown St.    1-6   67.2    0.92    1.12    -0.20

AVG.                        65.3    1.04

To say no one's wrested control of the Horizon is an understatement. The league's a mess, and keep in mind fully 40 percent of the conference's games are already in the books. But let us nonetheless celebrate surprising Valparaiso, official site of my mom's freshman year. Last year's Crusader offense married to this year's defense would indeed be a sight to behold.

Missouri Valley: No trash talk between Peoria and Normal

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Wichita St.       6-1   66.5    1.09    0.86    +0.23
2.  Missouri St.      7-0   61.3    1.10    0.95    +0.15
3.  Indiana St.       6-1   64.0    1.03    0.89    +0.14
4.  N. Iowa           4-3   58.3    1.04    1.01    +0.03
5.  Creighton         4-3   60.8    1.04    1.02    +0.02
6.  Evansville        3-4   64.2    0.93    1.02    -0.09
7.  S. Illinois       3-4   61.5    0.95    1.04    -0.09
8.  Drake             2-5   65.7    0.90    1.01    -0.11
9.  Illinois St.      0-7   60.9    0.91    1.06    -0.15
10. Bradley           0-7   65.3    0.98    1.13    -0.15

AVG.                        62.8    1.00

As opposed to the jumbled tangle that is the Horizon, the Missouri Valley has actually sorted itself out rather nicely. Missouri State, Wichita State, and Indiana State, in that order, are pretty clearly the class of the league (keeping in mind the Bears won in Wichita 59-56 on January 9).

Mountain West: Don't forget UNLV

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  BYU               3-0   74.3    1.21    1.00    +0.21
2.  San Diego St.     4-0   65.7    1.06    0.92    +0.14
3.  UNLV              2-2   66.2    1.03    0.93    +0.10
4.  Colorado St.      2-1   67.0    1.06    0.98    +0.08
5.  New Mexico        1-2   66.8    1.05    1.07    -0.02
6.  Air Force         1-2   59.5    1.09    1.17    -0.08
7.  Utah              1-3   67.9    1.02    1.12    -0.10
8.  TCU               1-3   67.3    0.93    1.07    -0.14
9.  Wyoming           1-3   63.7    0.93    1.12    -0.19

AVG.                        66.5    1.04

I know we're all looking forward to a really good race between BYU and San Diego State, but keep in mind the Rebels' only conference losses were to those two opponents. Lon Kruger's team plays tremendous D. They have the ability to provide a surprise that shouldn't surprise us come March.

WAC: Too many Aggies...Could one team be the "Amendments"?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Utah St.          5-0   63.9    1.11    0.95    +0.16
2.  New Mexico St.    4-1   69.8    1.12    0.96    +0.16
3.  Idaho             4-1   65.7    1.07    0.91    +0.16
4.  Boise St.         4-2   67.9    1.04    0.98    +0.06
5.  Fresno St.        3-2   64.6    1.01    1.00    +0.01
6.  Nevada            2-3   67.1    1.08    1.10    -0.02
7.  San Jose St.      1-5   68.4    0.97    1.09    -0.12
8.  Hawaii            1-5   66.6    0.89    1.07    -0.18
9.  Louisiana Tech    0-5   66.7    0.85    1.04    -0.19

AVG.                        66.7    1.02

In theory Utah State (16-2 overall) should more or less maintain this scoring margin, while Idaho (11-6) and New Mexico State (10-9) do not. We'll see how well theory matches reality on Saturday, when USU and NMSU meet in a battle of the Aggies in Logan, UT.

John uses fewer decimal points on Twitter: @JohnGasaway. College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 is now available on Amazon.

John Gasaway is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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