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
Rocking and Rolling (02/09)
Next Article >>
(02/09)

February 9, 2010
Tuesday Truths
Now it Gets Serious

by John Gasaway

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Welcome to the latest installment of Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 126 teams in 11 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: Game of the week! No, not that one.

Through games of February 8, 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              7-2   66.9    1.11    0.95    +0.16
2.  Maryland          6-2   69.4    1.10    0.94    +0.16
3.  Virginia          5-3   64.4    1.03    0.96    +0.07
4.  Virginia Tech     5-3   69.3    1.00    0.98    +0.02
5.  Wake Forest       6-3   69.0    0.98    0.97    +0.01  
6.  Georgia Tech      5-4   69.5    0.99    1.00    -0.01
7.  Clemson           4-5   69.6    0.93    0.94    -0.01
8.  Florida St.       5-4   67.2    0.98    1.00    -0.02
9.  North Carolina    2-6   71.2    0.98    1.06    -0.08
10. BC                3-6   64.0    0.99    1.07    -0.08
11. NC State          2-7   67.8    1.00    1.09    -0.09
12. Miami             2-7   66.1    0.98    1.09    -0.11

When was the last time Duke was at risk for "looking past" North Carolina? I wouldn't call tomorrow night's visit to Chapel Hill a "trap game" by any means. In fact the Blue Devils' struggles on the road this season (they're 2-2 away from Cameron Indoor in ACC play) mean Mike Krzyzewski should have ample justification for focusing his team on the Tar Heels exclusively. Still, Duke's home game on Saturday against Maryland does loom larger than one might have anticipated before the season began.

Big 12: No, Rick Barnes isn't playing too many people. (Necessarily.)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kansas            9-0   68.2    1.16    0.97    +0.19
2.  Baylor            4-4   68.1    1.14    1.05    +0.09
3.  Kansas St.        6-3   72.3    1.05    0.97    +0.08
4.  Missouri          5-3   71.9    1.06    1.00    +0.06
5.  Texas             5-4   72.8    1.05    1.02    +0.03
6.  Texas A&M         6-3   65.4    1.07    1.05    +0.02
7.  Oklahoma St.      4-5   70.5    1.03    1.03     0.00
8.  Oklahoma          4-4   68.0    0.96    1.03    -0.07
9.  Colorado          2-7   69.0    1.04    1.11    -0.07
10. Texas Tech        3-5   72.8    1.00    1.10    -0.10
11. Iowa St.          2-6   70.2    0.99    1.10    -0.11
12. Nebraska          1-7   63.1    0.94    1.08    -0.14

I'm with Bob Knight on this one. Scratch your head at the Longhorns' struggles all you want, and, hey, maybe Barnes is playing too many people in the sense that most of the players he brings in simply aren't performing very well. (Most, not all. I thought J'Covan Brown looked pretty good last night.) But the mere number of players that see minutes is not exactly a red flag. Undeniably talented but thin teams like Georgetown or Ohio State would love to get yelled at by Hubert Davis for playing too many players. And year after deep year Tom Izzo stages a musical revue in East Lansing called "Anonymous Large Guys on Parade!" As you may have noticed, Izzo tends to fare pretty well come tournament time.

Big East: Can West Virginia pick on someone their own size?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  West Virginia     8-3   64.2    1.13    0.98    +0.15
2.  Syracuse         10-1   69.2    1.10    0.96    +0.14
3.  Villanova        10-1   72.7    1.18    1.05    +0.13
4.  Louisville        6-4   66.8    1.15    1.05    +0.10
5.  Marquette         6-5   64.0    1.14    1.05    +0.09
6.  Georgetown        7-4   67.2    1.10    1.03    +0.07
7.  Pitt              7-4   63.5    1.07    1.02    +0.05
8.  Notre Dame        6-5   66.2    1.12    1.12     0.00
9.  Connecticut       4-6   68.4    1.01    1.01     0.00
10. Providence        4-7   72.6    1.09    1.13    -0.04
11. Cincinnati        5-6   66.1    1.02    1.06    -0.04
12. S. Florida        5-6   65.7    1.04    1.09    -0.05
13. Seton Hall        3-7   68.2    1.03    1.12    -0.09
14. St. John’s        2-8   66.8    0.93    1.04    -0.11
15. DePaul           1-10   63.1    0.92    1.12    -0.20
16. Rutgers           2-9   69.5    0.95    1.16    -0.21

I'm a glass half-full kind of guy (blood type: B-positive) and I like to track efficiency margin so I can be the bearer of good news and say things like: Never mind the "6-5," Marquette is really good. The flip side of that, though, is that sometimes a team looks better on paper than in person. Take West Virginia last night. Please! (Har!) The Mountaineers have a really nice EM because they've been able to pummel teams like Rutgers, South Florida, St. John's, DePaul, and, yes, Pitt. Pummeling teams, even non-NCAA tournament teams, is a good marker of quality and I don't minimize that. Still, it's also true that Bob Huggins' team has seen its two main rivals, Syracuse and Villanova, come to Morgantown, and in those games the Mountaineers are 0-2, having been outscored by 0.06 points per trip. Looking ahead, West Virginia closes the season by hosting Georgetown and then going to Villanova. If they're smart they'll seize the opportunity to show what they can do against top-quality opponents.

Big Ten: What happened to Michigan and Minnesota?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Wisconsin         8-3   57.5    1.06    0.92    +0.14
2.  Ohio St.          8-3   62.8    1.08    0.98    +0.10
3.  Michigan St.      9-2   63.9    1.06    0.97    +0.09
4.  Purdue            7-3   65.0    1.08    0.99    +0.09
5.  Illinois          8-3   65.9    1.04    0.99    +0.05
6.  Michigan          4-7   59.9    0.99    1.00    -0.01
7.  Minnesota         5-5   65.9    1.02    1.05    -0.03
8.  Northwestern      5-6   62.6    1.07    1.10    -0.03
9.  Indiana           3-7   65.1    0.95    1.07    -0.12
10. Iowa              2-9   62.0    0.91    1.04    -0.13
11. Penn St.         0-11   61.5    0.96    1.10    -0.14

I'll have some paragraphs on the surprising Wisconsin Badgers soon, but for now let me note the conference's surprises in the other direction. Both the Wolverines and the Gophers were ranked in the top 25 in the preseason. Yes, I was on the record as thinking this was a little too kind to John Beilein's team but, still, I wouldn't have guessed that both of these teams would be allowing more points than they're scoring at this point in Big Ten play. The Michigan offense is less productive than expected and, symmetrically enough, the Minnesota defense is more permissive. Things can change but right now the sorting in the Big Ten is pretty clear: Four best teams (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue), a loner in fifth (Illinois), and all the rest.

Pac-10: Half the league's 6-5...

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Cal               7-4   68.7    1.09    1.00    +0.09
2.  USC               6-5   61.3    0.97    0.91    +0.06
3.  Arizona           6-5   68.3    1.05    1.00    +0.05
4.  Arizona St.       6-5   65.8    1.02    0.97    +0.05
5.  Washington        6-5   71.8    1.05    1.00    +0.05
6.  Oregon St.        4-6   62.7    0.92    0.96    -0.04
7.  UCLA              6-5   62.6    1.01    1.06    -0.05
8.  Washington St.    5-6   67.6    1.03    1.09    -0.06
9.  Stanford          4-7   65.9    1.00    1.07    -0.07
10. Oregon            4-6   65.6    0.97    1.09    -0.12

And tracking per-possession performance doesn't really help differentiate that five-team knot very much, except to say that UCLA hasn't actually played as well as those other four. But, yeah, throw a stick at USC, Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington, and you'll hit a pretty good team, though U-Dub does merit special bipolar mention as a team that's Kentucky when in Seattle (outscoring Pac-10 opponents by 0.18 points per trip) but Rutgers when anywhere else (-0.24 on the road in-conference).

SEC: The strange irrelevance of experience

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kentucky          7-1   73.1    1.11    0.94    +0.17
2.  Tennessee         6-2   66.8    1.02    0.94    +0.08
3.  Florida           6-3   65.2    1.10    1.06    +0.04
4.  Ole Miss          5-4   69.2    1.06    1.03    +0.03
5.  Vanderbilt        6-2   70.2    1.11    1.08    +0.03
6.  Alabama           3-6   63.0    0.98    0.95    +0.03
7.  Mississippi St.   4-4   70.5    0.98    0.97    +0.01
8.  Arkansas          5-3   71.0    1.02    1.03    -0.01
9.  Georgia           2-6   68.3    1.06    1.07    -0.01
10. South Carolina    4-4   67.7    0.99    1.03    -0.04
11. Auburn            2-6   68.9    1.00    1.10    -0.10
12. LSU               0-9   64.0    0.88    1.09    -0.21

I'm not surprised that a team as young as Kentucky is at the top of the conference--those youngsters are fairly talented, I guess--but I am surprised that teams like Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt don't look better here. The Bulldogs, Gamecocks, and Commodores all have ostentatious levels of returning minutes from last year. Speaking historically, that level of experience usually translates into better performance. Go figure.

A-10: Charlotte is "clutch," "fearless," and several other cliches

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Xavier            8-2   71.2    1.12    0.98    +0.14
2.  Dayton            5-3   68.3    1.04    0.91    +0.13
3.  Temple            7-2   62.9    1.07    0.95    +0.12
4.  Richmond          7-2   63.5    1.04    0.93    +0.11
5.  Rhode Island      7-2   70.9    1.09    1.00    +0.09
6.  Charlotte         8-1   67.7    1.04    0.98    +0.06
7.  Saint Louis       5-3   63.7    0.94    0.93    +0.01
8.  La Salle          3-6   68.8    1.02    1.05    -0.03
9.  GW                2-7   65.7    0.97    1.03    -0.06
10. St. Bonaventure   2-6   67.9    0.97    1.03    -0.06
11. UMass             2-7   72.1    1.00    1.07    -0.07
12. Saint Joseph’s    3-6   71.0    0.96    1.05    -0.09
13. Duquesne          3-6   68.8    0.94    1.05    -0.11
14. Fordham           0-9   70.8    0.89    1.13    -0.24

The 49ers are 5-0 in A-10 games decided by single-digits, a level of crunch-time prowess that's allowed them to claim sole possession of first at 8-1 despite outscoring league opponents by just 0.06 points per trip. A team like Wichita State (9-4 at +0.06) can only look on with envy or, I guess, call Bobby Lutz for some pointers.

Conference USA: Pay no mind to that Thundering Herd behind the curtain!

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  UTEP              8-1   66.5    1.03    0.89    +0.14
2.  Marshall          5-4   68.1    1.13    1.01    +0.12
3.  SMU               4-4   59.1    1.04    0.95    +0.09
4.  Memphis           6-2   66.4    1.12    1.03    +0.09
5.  Tulsa             7-2   66.7    1.03    0.97    +0.06
6.  Houston           4-5   69.3    1.05    1.01    +0.04
7.  UAB               7-2   65.4    0.99    0.95    +0.04
8.  Southern Miss     4-4   59.4    0.98    0.95    +0.03
9.  UCF               3-5   65.6    0.99    1.09    -0.10
10. Tulane            2-7   67.3    0.88    1.01    -0.13
11. Rice              1-8   66.6    0.96    1.09    -0.13
12. E. Carolina       1-8   67.5    0.86    1.09    -0.23

Marshall attained their gaudy efficiency margin in large part by beating East Carolina to a pulp this weekend. Remove that single 51-point blowout from their resume and their in-conference number drops to a much more descriptive +0.04. Save your praise for UTEP.

Missouri Valley: The Panthers do play some D

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  N. Iowa          12-1   58.9    1.04    0.90    +0.14
2.  Wichita St.       9-4   63.5    1.04    0.98    +0.06
3.  Illinois St.      7-6   63.2    1.06    1.01    +0.05
4.  Missouri St.      6-7   64.6    1.11    1.08    +0.03
5.  Bradley           7-6   65.8    1.04    1.03    +0.01
6.  S. Illinois       5-8   64.9    0.99    0.99     0.00
7.  Drake             6-7   64.2    1.02    1.04    -0.02
8.  Creighton         7-6   64.9    1.03    1.05    -0.02
9.  Indiana St.       6-7   64.0    1.03    1.06    -0.03
10. Evansville       0-13   65.0    0.93    1.12    -0.19

The Valley hates playing Northern Iowa, and you would too. The Panthers patiently work the entire shot clock, then they turn around and make you miss (MVC opponents are making just 42 percent of their twos), and Ben Jacobson's team always cleans up that first miss (UNI rebounds 76 percent of their conference opponents' missed shots). That being said, Southern Illinois whiffed on a rare opportunity to get a win in Cedar Falls on Saturday. The Salukis led by five with under three minutes to play, but the Panthers ended the game on an 11-3 run.

Mountain West: One difference between three first-place teams

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  BYU               7-2   69.9    1.10    0.94    +0.16
2.  UNLV              7-2   68.2    1.10    0.97    +0.13
3.  New Mexico        7-2   68.5    1.06    0.96    +0.10
4.  San Diego St.     5-4   65.1    1.09    1.03    +0.06
5.  Colorado St.      5-4   67.9    0.98    1.00    -0.02
6.  Utah              3-5   67.5    0.97    0.99    -0.02
7.  TCU               3-6   62.7    0.94    1.03    -0.09
8.  Wyoming           2-7   69.1    0.97    1.09    -0.12
9.  Air Force         1-8   57.5    0.91    1.15    -0.24

BYU and New Mexico have both been strangely weak in terms of scoring inside the arc, making just 46 and 47 percent of their twos in MWC play, respectively. UNLV on the other hand is making 55 percent of its shots inside the arc and holding league opponents to 43 percent shooting on the interior. True, the Rebels have their own issues. (For one thing they're pretty foul happy.) Just saying.

WCC: Tune in Thursday night

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Saint Mary’s      8-1   67.5    1.17    1.00    +0.17
2.  Gonzaga           7-1   68.3    1.15    1.00    +0.15
3.  Portland          5-3   63.9    1.11    0.98    +0.13
4.  San Francisco     4-5   68.1    0.98    1.05    -0.07
5.  San Diego         2-7   61.3    0.95    1.03    -0.08
6.  Santa Clara       2-7   64.0    0.96    1.05    -0.09
7.  Loyola Marymount  3-5   67.3    1.01    1.10    -0.09
8.  Pepperdine        3-5   68.1    1.00    1.11    -0.11

That's when Saint Mary's will have a shot at showing they really are the best team in the league, as the Gaels visit Spokane for a showdown with Gonzaga. Randy Bennett's team hopes the evening goes better for them than last Thursday went for Portland in that same venue.

John issues breathless up-to-the-minute per-possession updates on Twitter: @JohnGasaway. College Basketball Prospectus 2009-10 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
Rocking and Rolling (02/09)
Next Article >>
(02/09)

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 FEBRUARY 9, 2010
: Week ending Feb. 7, 2010
Rocking and Rolling: Cleveland's Hot 2010
The List: Atlantic 6

MORE BY JOHN GASAWAY
2010-02-23 - Tuesday Truths: Now Bracket-Aware
2010-02-16 - Tuesday Truths: Wild, Wild East
2010-02-10 - February Madness: The Messy Big Ten
2010-02-09 - Tuesday Truths: Now it Gets Serious
2010-02-04 - Keeping up with a Jones: South Florida Surpr...
2010-02-02 - Tuesday Truths: Love for the Undefeated
2010-01-28 - One and Done?: Gasaway & Pelton on Bledsoe
More...


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