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January 25, 2011
Tuesday Truths
Full-Strength Edition

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.)

At long last there have been enough games played for us to take our first look at the entire Tuesday Truths field. Enjoy.

ACC: Potential for history at the bottom

Through games of January 24, 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.  Duke              5-1   70.3    1.08    0.92    +0.16
2.  Virginia Tech     3-2   66.4    1.07    0.91    +0.16
3.  Florida St.       5-1   67.0    1.01    0.94    +0.07
4.  Clemson           2-3   67.3    1.12    1.08    +0.04
5.  Georgia Tech      2-3   68.7    1.03    1.00    +0.03
6.  Boston College    4-2   64.0    1.12    1.10    +0.02
7.  North Carolina    3-1   70.8    0.91    0.92    -0.01
8.  Maryland          2-3   70.3    0.99    1.01    -0.02
9.  NC State          2-3   68.3    1.10    1.14    -0.04
10. Virginia          2-3   60.9    1.02    1.07    -0.05
11. Miami             1-4   63.7    1.04    1.10    -0.06
12. Wake Forest       0-5   69.4    0.83    1.20    -0.37

AVG.                        67.2    1.03

The worst major-conference team I've seen in recent years was Oregon State in 2008, which was outscored by the Pac-10 by 0.30 points per possession. As seen here, there's a chance that standard will be eclipsed this season. It's rare for a team to have both its major conference's worst offense and its worst defense by very wide margins.

Big 12: Baylor demonstrates the irrelevance of shooting

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Texas             4-0   65.7    1.16    0.84    +0.32
2.  Missouri          3-2   72.8    1.08    0.97    +0.11
3.  Texas A&M         4-1   61.9    1.12    1.02    +0.10
4.  Kansas            3-1   70.5    1.05    0.99    +0.06
5.  Colorado          3-2   68.6    1.06    1.05    +0.01
6.  Baylor            3-3   64.2    1.05    1.05     0.00
7.  Nebraska          2-3   67.5    1.01    1.01     0.00
8.  Kansas St.        2-4   67.3    1.00    1.01    -0.01
9.  Oklahoma St.      2-3   69.3    1.00    1.07    -0.07
10. Iowa St.          1-4   73.5    0.94    1.03    -0.09
11. Oklahoma          2-3   64.8    0.95    1.06    -0.11
12. Texas Tech        1-4   69.2    0.92    1.16    -0.24

AVG.                        67.9    1.03

Not a bad start by the Longhorns, yes? I'll be giving Rick Barnes' team the Featured treatment tomorrow. For now let me note that few teams have ever exemplified "feast or famine" quite like Baylor in the early going. A team that's making 52 percent of its twos and 43 percent of its threes in-conference should be scoring more than 1.05 points per trip -- a lot more. Alas the Bears have given the ball away on an astounding 26 percent of their trips.

Big East: "Your family, your religion, and Rutgers basketball...."

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Pitt              7-1   64.0    1.17    0.99    +0.18
2.  Villanova         5-1   67.3    1.15    1.00    +0.15
3.  Marquette         4-3   65.4    1.20    1.09    +0.11
4.  West Virginia     4-2   65.3    1.09    1.00    +0.09
5.  Louisville        4-2   70.5    1.09    1.00    +0.09
6.  Syracuse          5-2   65.6    1.07    0.99    +0.08
7.  Connecticut       4-2   63.6    1.05    0.99    +0.06
8.  Cincinnati        4-3   63.4    1.00    0.98    +0.02
9.  Notre Dame        6-3   62.0    1.06    1.06     0.00
10. Georgetown        3-4   62.8    1.07    1.10    -0.03
11. Rutgers           3-4   64.7    1.04    1.08    -0.04
12. St. John's        4-4   65.9    0.98    1.03    -0.05
13. Seton Hall        2-6   67.1    0.92    1.02    -0.10
14. S. Florida        1-7   63.6    1.00    1.11    -0.11
15. Providence        1-6   71.5    0.99    1.11    -0.12
16. DePaul            0-7   68.6    0.92    1.17    -0.25

AVG.                        65.7    1.05

I'm on the record as being very impressed by what Mike Rice is doing in Piscataway. That aside, our nation's pollsters and bracketologists are more awed by the mid-section of the Big East than I am. They're also somewhat less enthuiastic about Marquette than I am. But then the preceding two sentences are true more or less every January and Feburary. It's uncanny. Lastly, before anyone looks at that number for pace next to Pitt and proclaims this year's Panthers slow-paced, keep in mind Notre Dame's 48-possession win last night (congratulations, Mike Brey) by itself shaved a full two possessions off of Pitt's in-conference average for tempo. Heck, that game alone dropped the league's average pace by a third of a possession.

Big Ten: The official conference of offense!

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Purdue            6-1   64.2    1.19    1.01    +0.18
2.  Wisconsin         5-2   56.3    1.19    1.03    +0.16
3.  Ohio St.          7-0   63.5    1.13    1.01    +0.12
4.  Illinois          4-3   63.5    1.13    1.06    +0.07
5.  Michigan St.      4-3   62.1    1.05    1.05     0.00
6.  Minnesota         3-3   61.0    1.07    1.08    -0.01
7.  Penn St.          3-4   60.3    1.08    1.11    -0.03
8.  Northwestern      3-5   64.3    1.08    1.14    -0.06
9.  Indiana           1-6   63.9    1.09    1.20    -0.11
10. Iowa              1-6   68.2    0.98    1.13    -0.15
11. Michigan          1-5   59.5    1.04    1.21    -0.17

AVG.                        62.4    1.09

Or maybe it's just the fact that the Michigan and Indiana defenses reside in this conference. Whatever the case may be, Big Ten teams are scoring at a ridiculously high rate against one another. Then again it's hard to tell this is the case because the league's pace is customarily sedate. Meantime don't fret too much about the nation's No. 1 team appearing here as merely the third-best team in its own league. Tonight Ohio State hosts Purdue. Actual games tend to sort these discrepancies out to everyone's satisfaction, particularly when said discrepancies don't involve Wisconsin.

Pac-10: Pollsters welcome to Errorville -- population, you

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Washington        7-1   70.1    1.16    0.95    +0.21
2.  Arizona           5-2   69.3    1.04    0.99    +0.05
3.  Washington St.    4-4   68.5    1.03    0.98    +0.05
4.  USC               3-4   63.9    1.01    0.96    +0.05
5.  UCLA              5-2   66.8    1.02    0.99    +0.03
6.  Stanford          3-4   63.8    0.92    0.95    -0.03
7.  Cal               3-4   67.8    1.07    1.12    -0.05
8.  Oregon St.        3-4   69.6    1.01    1.07    -0.06
9.  Oregon            2-5   66.9    0.93    1.04    -0.11
10. Arizona St.       1-6   64.8    0.94    1.11    -0.17

AVG.                        67.1    1.01

Mark me down as agreeing with my colleague Ken Pomeroy and that inveterate iconoclast known as his laptop. Off-court storm clouds still loom, but at present Washington does indeed give the appearance of being one of the best teams in the country. I know I'm really going out on a limb here, but that's just the kind of bold high-risk guy I become with 40 percent of the Pac-10 season already in the books and a team outscoring the league by more than 0.20 points per trip. Call me daring.

SEC: The official conference of defense!

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kentucky          3-2   68.0    1.07    0.89    +0.18
2.  Florida           4-1   61.7    1.10    0.95    +0.15
3.  Georgia           3-2   67.8    1.13    1.01    +0.12
4.  Alabama           4-1   68.4    0.97    0.87    +0.10
5.  Vanderbilt        2-2   69.4    1.03    1.01    +0.02
6.  South Carolina    3-2   65.6    0.99    0.99     0.00
7.  Tennessee         2-2   63.1    1.02    1.04    -0.02
8.  Ole Miss          1-4   66.9    1.09    1.13    -0.04
9.  Mississippi St.   2-2   72.1    0.95    1.01    -0.06
10. Arkansas          2-3   65.6    0.92    1.02    -0.10
11. Auburn            0-5   66.3    0.82    1.02    -0.20
12. LSU               2-2   66.2    0.80    1.01    -0.21

AVG.                        66.8    0.99

Or maybe it's just the fact that the LSU and Auburn offenses reside in this conference. Whatever the case may be, SEC teams are failing to score a point per trip against one another. And while his live audio feed during games may be totally NSFW, John Calipari can coach my D any day. Every year he has near-total turnover in personnel and every year he puts a defense on the floor that is outstanding.

A-10: I hope you like hearing about Pittsburgh sports....

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Xavier            5-0   65.2    1.22    0.96    +0.26
2.  Duquesne          5-0   71.4    1.10    0.87    +0.23
3.  Richmond          4-1   66.3    1.16    1.00    +0.16
4.  Dayton            3-2   62.3    1.10    0.97    +0.13
5.  Temple            3-2   69.2    1.02    0.94    +0.08
6.  GW                3-2   66.5    0.99    0.96    +0.03
7.  Saint Louis       2-3   63.5    0.89    0.91    -0.02
8.  Rhode Island      3-2   66.5    0.96    1.01    -0.05
9.  UMass             3-2   63.6    1.01    1.06    -0.05
10. St. Bonaventure   2-3   62.9    0.97    1.05    -0.08
11. Charlotte         1-4   65.2    0.97    1.08    -0.11
12. La Salle          1-4   72.8    0.97    1.09    -0.12
13. Saint Joseph's    0-5   65.3    0.93    1.07    -0.14
14. Fordham           0-5   69.2    0.80    1.08    -0.28

AVG.                        66.4    1.01

Because in addition to the AFC champions and the Big East co-leaders, there's also Duquesne. You may not be able to name a single Duke (Bill Clark's a good place to start), but Ron Everhart's team stands a fair chance of sporting a 9-0 record in the A-10 when they host Xavier for a showdown game the day before Valentine's.

Colonial: Is Mason the best team in the DC area?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  George Mason      7-2   64.3    1.14    0.96    +0.18
2.  VCU               8-1   62.0    1.10    0.97    +0.13
3.  Hofstra           8-1   65.2    1.14    1.04    +0.10
4.  James Madison     5-4   67.0    1.12    1.03    +0.09
5.  Old Dominion      6-3   59.0    1.02    0.95    +0.07
6.  Drexel            5-4   63.0    0.97    0.95    +0.02
7.  William & Mary    2-7   61.8    1.06    1.09    -0.03
8.  Delaware          5-4   60.4    1.00    1.07    -0.07
9.  UNC-Wilmington    4-5   61.4    0.96    1.04    -0.08
10. Georgia St.       3-6   65.5    0.91    1.00    -0.09
11. Northeastern      1-8   58.7    1.01    1.16    -0.15
12. Towson            0-9   62.1    1.02    1.19    -0.17

AVG.                        62.5    1.04

Just tossing it out there, not voting myself either way just yet. One thing I will say about Jim Larranaga's group, they're consistent on offense (albeit less so on D). No Colonial opponent has held the Patriots to less than a point per trip this season.

C-USA: Does Tony Barbee ever regret leaving UTEP for Auburn?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  UTEP              4-1   63.1    1.06    0.92    +0.14
2.  Memphis           4-1   67.4    1.01    0.96    +0.05
3.  Tulsa             3-2   65.1    1.03    0.98    +0.05
4.  East Carolina     3-2   65.1    1.07    1.04    +0.03
5.  Marshall          1-3   70.0    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  UAB               3-2   64.8    1.03    1.02    +0.01
7.  Houston           3-2   62.3    1.08    1.08     0.00
8.  SMU               2-3   61.3    1.09    1.11    -0.02
9.  Southern Miss     3-3   67.8    1.10    1.13    -0.03
10. Tulane            2-3   65.3    1.07    1.11    -0.04
11. Rice              1-4   64.9    0.97    1.07    -0.10
12. UCF               1-4   66.3    0.96    1.06    -0.10

AVG.                        65.3    1.04

Memphis is garnering the lion's share of the coverage, but for a second consecutive season UTEP may be the class of the league.

Horizon: Butler's fall-off on D created this mess

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Cleveland St.     7-2   66.2    1.08    0.94    +0.14
2.  Valparaiso        7-2   64.7    1.04    0.92    +0.12
3.  Butler            6-3   65.0    1.13    1.04    +0.09
4.  Wright St.        6-3   62.9    1.01    0.97    +0.04
5.  Green Bay         5-4   66.6    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  Detroit           5-4   69.4    1.05    1.05     0.00
7.  Loyola            3-6   63.9    1.00    1.03    -0.03
8.  Milwaukee         5-5   64.3    1.02    1.06    -0.04
9.  UIC               0-8   64.8    0.97    1.13    -0.16
10. Youngstown St.    1-8   68.7    0.92    1.08    -0.16

AVG.                        65.6    1.03

There's always been a really solid second tier of teams in the Horizon, of course. The difference this year is that Butler has come back to the pack. This year the Bulldogs' offense is just as good as and maybe even a hair better than what got Brad Stevens and company to the national championship game. But the defense, which last year allowed Horizon opponents just 0.92 points per possession, is nowhere near its former self. Now look. The rest of the Horizon, led by Cleveland State and Valparaiso, sees blue sky for the first time in forever and they're going for it.

Missouri Valley: Is Gregg Marshall now more like Izzo than Izzo?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Wichita St.       7-2   65.6    1.10    0.91    +0.19
2.  Missouri St.      8-1   60.9    1.11    0.99    +0.12
3.  Indiana St.       7-2   64.1    1.03    0.94    +0.09
4.  N. Iowa           6-3   58.2    1.09    1.02    +0.07
5.  Creighton         5-4   60.9    1.08    1.04    +0.04
6.  S. Illinois       4-5   61.7    0.96    1.01    -0.05
7.  Evansville        4-5   64.3    0.94    1.02    -0.08
8.  Drake             3-6   65.3    0.92    1.02    -0.10
9.  Illinois St.      1-8   62.0    0.92    1.04    -0.12
10. Bradley           0-9   65.4    0.99    1.13    -0.14

AVG.                        62.8    1.01

If present trends in the Big Ten continue, it appears that Tom Izzo may well need one of those patented motivational ploys of his to ignite his team come March. If so he could do worse than show them tape of Wichita State. The Shockers are doing a lot of things well on both sides of the ball, but Gregg Marshall's team has one trait in particular sure to make Izzo green (har!) with envy. Thus far WSU has rebounded nearly four out of every five of their Valley opponents' misses. Even for a league that recoils in horror from the mere thought of offensive rebounds (the average Valley team collects just 27 percent of its own misses in conference play), it's been an impressive performance by the Shockers.

Mountain West: The showdown is here!

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  BYU               5-0   73.2    1.22    1.02    +0.20
2.  San Diego St.     5-0   63.6    1.09    0.93    +0.16
3.  Colorado St.      3-2   67.7    1.11    1.05    +0.06
4.  UNLV              3-3   66.2    1.00    0.97    +0.03
5.  Utah              3-3   68.2    1.06    1.07    -0.01
6.  Air Force         2-3   58.5    1.10    1.12    -0.02
7.  New Mexico        1-4   67.5    1.02    1.07    -0.05
8.  TCU               1-5   67.9    0.93    1.10    -0.17
9.  Wyoming           1-4   62.7    0.92    1.14    -0.22

AVG.                        66.2    1.05

And a showdown it will be when San Diego State pays a visit to BYU tomorrow night. The game will pit easily the Mountain West's top offense (the Cougars) against what to this point has been its best defense (the Aztecs). I'll admit that in offense vs. defense clashes like this I often like the chances for the offense -- particularly when that offense is playing at home.

West Coast: Moraga's men mauled maliciously

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Saint Mary's      5-0   65.6    1.23    0.94    +0.29
2.  Gonzaga           3-2   67.1    1.18    1.09    +0.09
3.  San Francisco     4-1   67.7    1.07    1.03    +0.04
4.  Santa Clara       3-2   64.8    1.06    1.05    +0.01
5.  Portland          2-3   62.3    1.01    1.06    -0.05
6.  Pepperdine        2-3   66.8    0.99    1.09    -0.10
7.  Loyola Marymount  1-4   66.1    1.02    1.13    -0.11
8.  San Diego         0-5   63.8    0.87    1.05    -0.18

AVG.                        65.5    1.05

I'd feel a lot better about getting behind these incredible numbers for Saint Mary's if not for the fact that the Gaels were stomped by Vanderbilt on Saturday. But I'm still open to persuasion. Randy Bennett's offense has certainly been poetry in motion against West Coast foes.

WAC: Aggies (the ones from Utah) in the driver's seat

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Utah St.          7-0   63.5    1.10    0.92    +0.18
2.  Idaho             5-2   65.3    1.06    0.93    +0.13
3.  Boise St.         5-2   67.7    1.04    0.98    +0.06
4.  New Mexico St.    4-3   69.4    1.05    1.00    +0.05
5.  Nevada            4-3   68.1    1.09    1.05    +0.04
6.  Fresno St.        3-4   64.2    0.97    1.01    -0.04
7.  Hawaii            3-5   66.7    0.91    1.01    -0.10
8.  San Jose St.      1-6   68.5    0.96    1.07    -0.11
9.  Louisiana Tech    0-7   66.1    0.86    1.05    -0.19

AVG.                        66.7    1.02

Then again Utah State now confronts the WAC's most severe road test (well, in miles), the trip to San Jose State and from there to Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors may not look terribly impressive here, and, well, they're not. But one phrase I surely did not think I'd be applying to Gib Arnold's team this season was "three-game winning streak." UH is even sending its players and coaches into campus residence halls in an attempt to get students (who already get into the games for free) to show up specifically for this Utah State game. Just saying, it's a big deal to Hawaii. Stranger things have etc.

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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