Home Unfiltered Articles Players Baseball Prospectus
Basketball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Click here for Important Basketball Prospectus Premium Information!

<< Previous Article
The Shootaround (03/01)
<< Previous Column
Tuesday Truths (02/22)
Next Column >>
Tuesday Truths (03/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The Clipboard (03/01)

March 1, 2011
Tuesday Truths
March-at-Last Edition

by John Gasaway

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where we look at how well 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.

ACC: How 'bout dem Hokies! (cont.)

Through games of February 28, 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             12-2   68.2    1.10    0.92    +0.18
2.  North Carolina   12-2   70.9    1.04    0.93    +0.11
3.  Virginia Tech     9-5   65.7    1.09    0.99    +0.10
4.  Clemson           8-6   64.5    1.04    0.97    +0.07
5.  Maryland          7-7   70.4    1.06    1.01    +0.05
6.  Florida St.      10-4   69.0    0.97    0.95    +0.02
7.  Boston College    7-7   63.8    1.06    1.10    -0.04
8.  Miami             5-9   63.7    1.04    1.08    -0.04
9.  Georgia Tech     3-11   68.3    0.98    1.03    -0.05
10. NC State          5-9   67.0    1.05    1.11    -0.06
11. Virginia          5-9   61.0    0.93    1.02    -0.09
12. Wake Forest      1-13   69.6    0.89    1.15    -0.26

AVG.                        66.8    1.02

On Saturday night Virginia Tech beat Duke in Blacksburg, 64-60. Don't be fooled by the low score in the big game. The reason this isn't your usual bubble-level Hokie team is an offense that's vastly improved over last year. For the year Seth Greenberg's team is making less than 35 percent of their threes but in-conference that number's up to 38 percent, thanks in part to Malcolm Delaney's 43 percent perimeter shooting in ACC games. BONUS news of the ACC weird! Meanwhile down the road in Charlottesville, the three-point line spells the difference between joy and doom in a way that has few parallels in recent D-I history. Beyond the arc Virginia's shooting 39 percent in ACC play. Inside that same line, however, the Cavaliers are making just 41 percent of their twos. Save for breakaway dunks, Virginia is the locus classicus of the team that in theory should shoot nothing but threes.

Big 12: The collapse of Texas

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Texas            12-3   66.2    1.10    0.90    +0.20
2.  Kansas           12-2   70.0    1.19    1.01    +0.18
3.  Missouri          8-6   71.5    1.10    1.03    +0.07
4.  Kansas St.        9-6   67.0    1.06    1.02    +0.04
5.  Texas A&M         9-5   61.0    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  Colorado          7-7   68.7    1.06    1.08    -0.02
7.  Nebraska          6-8   64.5    1.01    1.03    -0.02
8.  Baylor            7-7   65.1    1.02    1.05    -0.03
9.  Oklahoma St.      5-9   66.9    0.98    1.07    -0.09
10. Oklahoma         4-10   64.4    0.98    1.10    -0.12
11. Texas Tech       4-10   68.8    1.00    1.13    -0.13
12. Iowa St.         2-12   70.8    0.99    1.12    -0.13

AVG.                        67.1    1.04

It's been swift, sweeping, and (yes!) stunning. Just a few short days ago the Longhorns were on-track to have by far the best defense that any major-conference team has shown us in recent years. But in losses to Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas State (hardly a murderers' row of offenses, by the way) the Horns have allowed 1.17 points per trip. What in the world happened? The other teams' shots, finally, started to fall. In those three losses opponents have made 55 percent of their twos and 38 percent of their threes. Last night in K-State's 75-70 win in Austin, Rodney McGruder and Curtis Kelly shot a combined 14-of-24 for the Wildcats. Two weeks ago the very idea of posting such numbers against this defense would have been outlandish. Lastly Texas is simply fouling more often. This is more than a defense simply coming back to the pack. It's a defense coming apart at the seams.

Big East: All hail Mike Brey

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Pitt             13-3   62.7    1.11    0.97    +0.14
2.  Notre Dame       13-4   63.0    1.13    1.05    +0.08
3.  Marquette         9-7   66.3    1.11    1.05    +0.06
4.  Louisville       11-5   65.0    1.03    0.98    +0.05
5.  Syracuse         11-6   64.7    1.05    1.00    +0.05
6.  West Virginia     9-7   62.0    1.06    1.01    +0.05
7.  Cincinnati        9-7   62.8    1.02    0.99    +0.03
8.  Villanova         9-8   65.2    1.09    1.06    +0.03
9.  St. John's       11-5   65.8    1.02    1.00    +0.02
10. Connecticut       9-7   65.0    1.03    1.01    +0.02
11. Georgetown       10-7   62.8    1.05    1.03    +0.02
12. Seton Hall       5-11   67.3    0.93    0.98    -0.05
13. Rutgers          4-12   63.7    1.00    1.08    -0.08
14. Providence       3-13   71.9    1.01    1.10    -0.09
15. S. Florida       3-13   63.3    0.99    1.09    -0.10
16. DePaul           1-15   66.6    0.97    1.16    -0.19

AVG.                        64.9    1.04

All it takes is 93 points in 64 possessions at home in a easy win over Villanova and suddenly you have the Big East's best offense. The Fighting Irish have been scoring points in abundance for years, but now they're doing it post-Harangody. That's impressive. This has been far and away the most accurate team from the field in Big East play, and in a league with the likes of Pitt and Georgetown that's saying something. (Last night Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough shot a combined 16-of-23 on their threes.) Also note that while opponents are also hitting a lot of threes, this interior D is better than what we're used to seeing come out of South Bend. The Irish wrap up the season on Saturday at UConn, in what should be an entertaining segue to next week's get-together at the Garden.

Big Ten: Will the NCAA tournament's overall 1-seed be the best per-possession team in its conference?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Purdue           13-3   64.4    1.13    0.99    +0.14
2.  Ohio St.         14-2   63.2    1.15    1.02    +0.13
3.  Wisconsin        12-4   56.3    1.18    1.05    +0.13
4.  Illinois          8-8   64.0    1.07    1.03    +0.04
5.  Penn St.          8-8   58.2    1.09    1.09     0.00
6.  Minnesota        6-10   61.8    1.04    1.06    -0.02
7.  Michigan          8-9   60.5    1.06    1.09    -0.03
8.  Michigan St.      8-8   61.6    1.01    1.06    -0.05
9.  Northwestern     6-11   62.1    1.06    1.15    -0.09
10. Indiana          3-13   63.5    1.03    1.13    -0.10
11. Iowa             3-13   64.6    0.99    1.11    -0.12

AVG.                        61.8    1.07

I don't suppose the undeniable mystique and prestige attached to an NCAA tournament 1-seed can always be matched by a correspondingly clear-cut difference in performance between 1-seeds and everyone else. Take Ohio State. I'm hearing the Buckeyes mentioned as a potential overall 1-seed in the NCAA tournament. Yet, as seen here, there's a chance Thad Matta's group won't even end the year as the best per-possession team in their own league. Not that there's anything unprecedented about that. Just two years ago Louisville pulled off the same feat. BONUS news of the Big Ten weird! The most statistically extreme team behavior in the Big Ten -- even more extreme than the scarcities in Wisconsin turnovers or Michigan offensive boards -- is the frequency with which Indiana's opponents shoot free throws. In this year's book I took Northwestern to task pretty severely for their frequent fouling in 2010. I owe the Wildcats an apology. The 2011 Hoosiers are setting a new hacktastic standard.

Pac-10: Not only am I giving up on Washington, I'm doing so proactively and irrevocably through 2016

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Washington       10-6   72.1    1.12    1.00    +0.12
2.  UCLA             12-4   65.8    1.04    0.97    +0.07
3.  Arizona          12-4   68.2    1.07    1.02    +0.05
4.  USC               9-7   63.3    1.02    0.97    +0.05
5.  Washington St.    8-8   69.0    1.00    1.00     0.00
6.  Cal               9-8   67.5    1.11    1.11     0.00
7.  Stanford         7-10   66.1    1.00    1.02    -0.02
8.  Oregon            7-9   66.9    1.00    1.03    -0.03
9.  Oregon St.       5-11   69.7    0.96    1.06    -0.10
10. Arizona St.      2-14   63.7    0.96    1.11    -0.15

AVG.                        67.2    1.03

I'm kidding, sort of. I've made my thoughts on the Huskies plain. The fact that U-Dub lost by 11 at home to Washington State on Sunday night only increases the likelihood that they will, quite justly, be given a tournament seed far out of alignment from their potential might. So be it. The committee can't very well seed teams according to how well they should be playing. Meantime UCLA destroyed Arizona 71-49 at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday. A 27-16 double-double like the one Reeves Nelson recorded against the Wildcats isn't going to happen every day, but the 6-8 sophomore has indeed developed into the kind of two-point machine and defensive-glass monster that we're used to seeing in close proximity to Ben Howland. So it is that the Bruins have won seven of eight thanks to the first glimmers of that old Howland-level defense seen in a long while, allowing opponents just 0.93 points per trip over that eight-game span. If UCLA can continue this kind of D this weekend in Seattle and Pullman, I will commit to Bruin fandom through 2016.

SEC: Just how unusual is Kentucky?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kentucky          8-6   66.9    1.11    0.99    +0.12
2.  Alabama          11-3   66.0    1.01    0.90    +0.11
3.  Florida          11-3   63.0    1.09    1.00    +0.09
4.  Vanderbilt        9-5   66.3    1.10    1.03    +0.07
5.  Georgia           8-6   65.8    1.04    1.00    +0.04
6.  Tennessee         7-7   64.7    1.01    0.97    +0.04
7.  Ole Miss          6-8   67.2    1.04    1.05    -0.01
8.  Mississippi St.   7-7   69.1    1.00    1.02    -0.02
9.  Arkansas          7-7   64.7    0.99    1.02    -0.03
10. South Carolina    5-9   66.4    0.95    1.05    -0.10
11. Auburn           2-12   65.9    0.89    1.03    -0.14
12. LSU              3-11   65.6    0.89    1.08    -0.19

AVG.                        66.0    1.01

You may have heard John Calipari's team tends to lose games on the road by very narrow margins. Then they return to Lexington and beat their opponents rather handily. The result is a team that tops the SEC in per-possession terms but has won just eight of its 14 conference games. Is that strange or what? Yes, actually, it's pretty strange. On paper Washington is more or less equally unusual, but at least the Huskies are more befuddling. With UK, conversely, a simple "Home, win; road, lose" algorithm would have been correct 93 percent of the time thus far in conference play. (The Wildcats won at South Carolina.) Kentucky wraps up its regular season at home against Vanderbilt tonight and then at Tennessee on Sunday. Well see if the home-road reliability holds true. Meantime, at the risk of repeating myself, remember one thing: No one's noticing because this team's losing more games and there's no John Wall, but the offense in 2011 is just as good as it was in Lexington in 2010.

A-10: There but for the grace of Xavier goes BYU

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Xavier           13-1   65.9    1.18    0.97    +0.21
2.  Temple           12-2   65.8    1.09    0.93    +0.16
3.  Duquesne          9-5   70.3    1.06    0.92    +0.14
4.  Richmond         11-3   62.9    1.13    1.03    +0.10
5.  Rhode Island      9-5   66.6    0.99    0.97    +0.02
6.  Dayton            7-7   66.4    1.00    0.99    +0.01
7.  GW                8-6   63.6    1.02    1.02     0.00
8.  St. Bonaventure   7-7   63.5    1.06    1.07    -0.01
9.  Saint Louis       5-9   63.6    0.95    0.97    -0.02
10. UMass             7-7   65.9    0.95    1.00    -0.05
11. La Salle          5-9   72.0    1.00    1.07    -0.07
12. Charlotte        2-12   65.3    0.95    1.07    -0.12
13. Saint Joseph's   3-11   61.7    0.99    1.12    -0.13
14. Fordham          0-14   67.9    0.89    1.14    -0.25

AVG.                        65.8    1.02

I mean it's not Lincoln and Kennedy or anything, but there are enough similarities between Xavier and BYU to merit noting. Both teams dominate their near-major conferences in per-possession terms more or less yearly. Both are outscoring their league by about a fifth of a point per trip in 2011. And both teams lost to Kansas State in the tournament last year. The main difference, of course, is that the Musketeers have had more NCAA tournament success in recent years. Right now I'm seeing Chris Mack's team projected as a 6, same seed as last year when they beat Pitt and took the Wildcats to OT. Laptops have a hard time warming up to any team that's lost to Miami OH and Charlotte, of course, but at a minimum Xavier is, again, the class of the A-10.

Colonial (FINAL): Now, about the Monarchs....

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  George Mason     16-2   64.4    1.16    0.94    +0.22
2.  Old Dominion     14-4   58.9    1.07    0.95    +0.12
3.  Hofstra          14-4   65.3    1.11    1.05    +0.06
4.  VCU              12-6   62.6    1.09    1.04    +0.05
5.  James Madison    10-8   66.2    1.08    1.03    +0.05
6.  Drexel           11-7   62.1    0.96    0.95    +0.01
7.  Northeastern     6-12   61.6    1.07    1.13    -0.06
8.  Delaware         8-10   61.9    1.00    1.06    -0.06
9.  UNC-Wilmington   7-11   62.3    1.02    1.08    -0.06
10. William & Mary   4-14   62.6    1.04    1.11    -0.07
11. Georgia St.      6-12   63.0    0.94    1.02    -0.08
12. Towson           0-18   62.5    1.03    1.20    -0.17

AVG.                        62.7    1.04

Let's look past George Mason for a moment, shall we? Old Dominion, the team that was expected to contend with VCU for Colonial supremacy this year, is being projected as an at-large in their own right. After all, the Monarchs have lost just one game over the past five weeks and that was on the road against the Patriots. ODU isn't what you'd call prolific on the perimeter, but they attack they offensive glass with the zeal of a Louisville male cheerleader. (Stay out of Frank Hassell's way.) Blaine Taylor's team also prevents you from making twos. It's not always scenic, but it works.

C-USA: The 64-game conference winning streak seems like a long time ago

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  UTEP              9-5   64.8    1.04    0.95    +0.09
2.  UAB              10-4   62.3    1.05    0.99    +0.06
3.  Marshall          8-6   65.4    1.06    1.01    +0.05
4.  Southern Miss     9-5   64.3    1.11    1.07    +0.04
5.  Tulsa             9-5   65.0    1.03    0.99    +0.04
6.  SMU               8-6   60.7    1.06    1.04    +0.02
7.  Memphis           9-5   67.3    0.97    0.97     0.00
8.  East Carolina     7-7   65.9    1.03    1.06    -0.03
9.  Rice             4-10   63.9    1.01    1.05    -0.04
10. UCF               5-9   63.7    1.00    1.06    -0.06
11. Houston          4-10   63.5    1.01    1.08    -0.07
12. Tulane           2-12   63.2    1.00    1.09    -0.09

AVG.                        64.2    1.03

On Saturday Memphis lost at UTEP 74-47. Recording just 47 points in a 72-possession game may be an outlier, but the truth is this is C-USA's worst offense. That's remarkable on more than one level. The Tigers' two-point shooting is actually quite good, but their perimeter shooting's so awful (1-of-18 at UTEP) and they turn the ball over so frequently (23 percent of the time in-conference) that Josh Pastner's team has been held to well under a point per trip over the course of 14 games. Was it really less than 14 months ago that Memphis saw its C-USA winning streak snapped?

Horizon (FINAL): The curious case of Milwaukee

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Cleveland St.    13-5   66.4    1.09    0.99    +0.10
2.  Butler           13-5   63.9    1.11    1.02    +0.09
3.  Valparaiso       12-6   66.4    1.03    0.98    +0.05
4.  Wright St.       10-8   62.2    1.04    1.02    +0.02
5.  Detroit          10-8   69.6    1.07    1.05    +0.02
6.  Milwaukee        13-5   66.1    1.06    1.04    +0.02
7.  Green Bay        8-10   65.8    1.03    1.04    -0.01
8.  Loyola           7-11   64.5    1.02    1.03    -0.01
9.  UIC              2-16   65.4    0.95    1.08    -0.13
10. Youngstown St.   2-16   69.4    0.96    1.10    -0.14

AVG.                        66.0    1.04

The Horizon plays a round-robin schedule so we can say with some degree of confidence that Milwaukee is, at best, this league's fourth-best team. Nevertheless an OT win at Youngstown State on Saturday won the Panthers the 1-seed in the Horizon tournament. That's huge, because it means Rob Jeter's team not only receives a bye that lands them in the semifinals but also that they'll be playing on their home court. Meanwhile 2-seed Butler's being shown as an NCAA at-large on most projected brackets. That being said, the Bulldogs would be well advised to win their semifinal at Milwaukee on Saturday evening against either Cleveland State, Wright State, Green Bay, or Illinois-Chicago.

Missouri Valley (FINAL): Bracing for Arch Madness

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Wichita St.      14-4   63.7    1.10    0.94    +0.16
2.  Missouri St.     15-3   62.1    1.10    1.00    +0.10
3.  Creighton        10-8   62.1    1.08    1.02    +0.06
4.  Indiana St.      12-6   64.8    1.03    0.98    +0.05
5.  N. Iowa          10-8   59.9    1.07    1.05    +0.02
6.  Evansville        9-9   65.5    0.99    1.02    -0.03
7.  Drake            7-11   64.4    0.99    1.05    -0.06
8.  Bradley          4-14   64.4    1.02    1.08    -0.06
9.  Illinois St.     4-14   61.9    0.94    1.05    -0.11
10. S. Illinois      5-13   61.9    0.93    1.05    -0.12

AVG.                        62.9    1.02

Missouri State may not be the best team in the Valley in per-possession terms, but they did beat Wichita State twice. That season sweep gave the Bears the 1-seed in the MVC tournament, and Cuonzo Martin's team will play the winner of Southern Illinois vs. Illinois State on Friday afternoon. Kyle Weems, Will Creekmore, and three-point shooting (MSU hit 40 percent of their threes in-conference) was enough for this team to win 15 of 18 games. It might just be enough to get the Bears the auto-bid.

Mountain West: Also, nice win on Saturday for Air Force vs. Colorado State

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  BYU              13-1   71.3    1.15    0.96    +0.19
2.  San Diego St.    12-2   64.3    1.08    0.93    +0.15
3.  UNLV             10-5   67.2    1.02    0.96    +0.06
4.  New Mexico        6-8   65.8    1.06    1.02    +0.04
5.  Colorado St.      8-6   67.9    1.01    0.99    +0.02
6.  Utah              6-8   67.1    0.97    1.03    -0.06
7.  Air Force         5-9   61.6    0.98    1.05    -0.07
8.  Wyoming          3-11   67.2    0.94    1.08    -0.14
9.  TCU              1-14   66.0    0.92    1.09    -0.17

AVG.                        66.5    1.01

I posted some thoughts on the Mountain West yesterday. Make haste!

West Coast (FINAL): Mark Few, you are a strong closer

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Gonzaga          11-3   66.4    1.13    0.96    +0.17
2.  Saint Mary's     11-3   66.0    1.17    1.03    +0.14
3.  Portland          7-7   64.2    1.07    1.05    +0.02
4.  San Francisco    10-4   69.6    1.02    1.01    +0.01
5.  Santa Clara       8-6   66.7    1.04    1.03    +0.01
6.  Pepperdine        5-9   66.9    1.01    1.07    -0.06
7.  Loyola Marymount 2-12   67.3    0.99    1.09    -0.10
8.  San Diego        2-12   63.2    0.89    1.07    -0.18

AVG.                        66.3    1.04

What a great finish by Gonzaga. Few's team won their last eight WCC games, outscoring opponents by 0.24 points per trip in the process. For the season West Coast opponents made just 41 percent of their twos against this D. The Bulldogs' final conference game, a 68-31 win at San Diego, was extreme but emblematic. It's very hard to believe the Zags were once mired in a three-game conference losing streak.

WAC: Aggies vs. Aggies II: This time it's pastoral

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Utah St.         13-1   63.5    1.12    0.93    +0.19
2.  New Mexico St.    8-6   69.7    1.03    0.98    +0.05
3.  Idaho             8-7   65.6    1.03    1.00    +0.03
4.  Boise St.         9-6   67.5    1.03    1.00    +0.03
5.  Nevada            7-7   67.5    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  Hawaii            7-7   66.7    0.96    1.01    -0.05
7.  Fresno St.        5-9   65.4    0.98    1.05    -0.07
8.  San Jose St.      5-9   67.4    1.01    1.08    -0.07
9.  Louisiana Tech   2-12   66.0    0.90    1.02    -0.12

AVG.                        66.6    1.01

In Utah State's 84-68 win at home over Idaho on Saturday, Tai Wesley needed just nine shots to score 22 points. He'll need that kind of efficiency tomorrow night when the Utah State Aggies pay a visit to the New Mexico State Aggies. NMSU's coming off an 0-2 road trip where they lost to San Jose State and Hawaii.

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.

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
The Shootaround (03/01)
<< Previous Column
Tuesday Truths (02/22)
Next Column >>
Tuesday Truths (03/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The Clipboard (03/01)

RECENTLY AT BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS
State of Basketball Prospectus: A Brief Anno...
Tuesday Truths: March-at-Last Edition
Easy Bubble Solver: The Triumphant Return
Premium Article Bubbles of their Own Making: Villanova, Temp...
Tuesday Truths: Crunch Time Edition

MORE FROM MARCH 1, 2011
Premium Article The Clipboard: How Mike D'Antoni Can Make th...
The Shootaround: Race to Watch #2

MORE BY JOHN GASAWAY
2011-03-07 - Tuesday Truths: Final Reality
2011-03-03 - Premium Article Cougars Declawed?: Post-Davies BYU
2011-03-02 - Premium Article Poll Position: Lower Seeds that Can Win
2011-03-01 - Tuesday Truths: March-at-Last Edition
2011-02-24 - Premium Article Poll Position: Florida's Back
2011-02-23 - Premium Article Poll Position: Kentucky's Un-Calipari-like D
2011-02-22 - Tuesday Truths: Dig-the-Chaos Edition
More...

MORE TUESDAY TRUTHS
2012-01-24 - Tuesday Truths: Admittedly Early Edition
2012-01-17 - Tuesday Truths: Back-with-a-Vengeance Editio...
2011-03-07 - Tuesday Truths: Final Reality
2011-03-01 - Tuesday Truths: March-at-Last Edition
2011-02-22 - Tuesday Truths: Dig-the-Chaos Edition
2011-02-15 - Tuesday Truths: Blunt Force Edition
2011-02-08 - Tuesday Truths: Post-NFL Edition
More...

Basketball Prospectus Home  |  Terms of Service  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us
Copyright © 1996-2014 Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, LLC.