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
This Week at the Garde... (03/08)
Next Article >>
One-Bid Leagues (03/09)

March 8, 2010
Tuesday Truths
Final Reality

by John Gasaway

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Welcome to this season's final installment of Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 126 teams in 11 conferences did 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: Duke's seed now matches its efficiency margin. Maryland?

Through games of March 7, 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             13-3   65.8    1.12    0.94    +0.18
2.  Maryland         13-3   68.4    1.11    1.01    +0.10
3.  Clemson           9-7   69.0    0.99    0.96    +0.03
4.  Florida St.      10-6   65.9    0.98    0.95    +0.03
5.  Virginia Tech    10-6   69.9    1.01    0.99    +0.02
6.  Wake Forest       9-7   69.4    0.99    0.99     0.00  
7.  Georgia Tech      7-9   70.1    1.00    1.01    -0.01
8.  BC               6-10   64.8    1.00    1.05    -0.05
9.  NC State         5-11   66.7    0.98    1.05    -0.07
10. Virginia         5-11   64.0    0.97    1.04    -0.07
11. Miami            4-12   65.3    1.00    1.08    -0.08
12. North Carolina   5-11   69.7    0.96    1.04    -0.08

It may have been somewhat grudging and late in arriving, but Duke is now widely acknowledged as likely to be the fourth one-seed when the brackets are announced this Sunday. But what about Maryland? I'm still seeing the Terrapins projected as a six-seed. If that holds, Gary Williams' team could be a neutral court favorite--by my lights--in any one of several potential second-round match-ups. (Provided of course they don't read this, get overconfident, and blow the first round game.) Projected three-seeds like Vanderbilt, Pitt, and New Mexico, for example, would in my warped view be underdogs vs. Maryland, while a game against potential three-seed Ohio State would be a different kind of misfortune. A game between two teams as good as the Terps and the Buckeyes should occur one or perhaps even two rounds later than the second round.

Big 12: Consider Baylor

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kansas           15-1   68.0    1.15    0.97    +0.18
2.  Baylor           11-5   67.0    1.14    1.04    +0.10
3.  Kansas St.       11-5   71.3    1.06    0.98    +0.08
4.  Missouri         10-6   69.9    1.03    0.98    +0.05
5.  Texas             9-7   71.4    1.07    1.03    +0.04
6.  Texas A&M        11-5   65.5    1.04    1.00    +0.04
7.  Oklahoma St.      9-7   69.3    1.06    1.03    +0.03
8.  Colorado         6-10   69.5    1.05    1.11    -0.06
9.  Iowa St.         4-12   69.4    0.97    1.05    -0.08
10. Texas Tech       4-12   72.0    0.99    1.11    -0.12
11. Oklahoma         4-12   67.6    0.98    1.10    -0.12
12. Nebraska         2-14   65.2    0.95    1.10    -0.15

I know Kansas State got the lion's share of the non-Kansas publicity all year long, but Baylor was right there with them the whole season. Then when the Wildcats closed the season by dropping their last two games, the Bears leapfrogged them in per-possession terms. Scott Drew's team has an offense that scored with tremendous efficiency in Big 12 play. Not even the Jayhawks were as good at making twos as BU in-conference. No, their defense is nothing special, but it's better than it's been in a long time in Waco. Just saying, the attention-to-reality ratio is out of whack here.

Big East: What in the world's gotten into Notre Dame?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Syracuse         15-3   69.7    1.11    0.99    +0.12
2.  West Virginia    13-5   64.6    1.12    1.01    +0.11
3.  Villanova        13-5   71.6    1.13    1.05    +0.08
4.  Marquette        11-7   62.6    1.10    1.02    +0.08
5.  Pitt             13-5   62.0    1.10    1.03    +0.07
6.  Georgetown       10-8   66.3    1.09    1.04    +0.05
7.  Notre Dame       10-8   63.6    1.14    1.10    +0.04
8.  Louisville       11-7   65.1    1.10    1.07    +0.03
9.  Connecticut      7-11   68.4    1.00    1.00     0.00
10. Seton Hall        9-9   68.8    1.07    1.08    -0.01
11. Cincinnati       7-11   65.4    1.01    1.06    -0.05
12. S. Florida        9-9   65.2    1.04    1.09    -0.05
13. St. John's       6-12   64.5    0.98    1.03    -0.05
14. Providence       4-14   72.8    1.09    1.16    -0.07
15. DePaul           1-17   63.3    0.95    1.11    -0.16
16. Rutgers          5-13   68.3    0.97    1.14    -0.17

All I know is the Fighting Irish actually played defense in their last two regular-season games, holding both Connecticut and Marquette under a point per possession. It always seemed like such an absurd statement that I never made it before, but here goes: If Notre Dame ever truly started playing defense, they would be really tough to beat. For you see the Irish have the best offense in the Big East. No mean feat, that.

Big Ten: Wisconsin's best, even against the non-Indiana Big Ten

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Wisconsin        13-5   57.6    1.11    0.94    +0.17
2.  Ohio St.         14-4   63.3    1.08    0.96    +0.12
3.  Purdue           14-4   64.0    1.05    0.95    +0.10
4.  Michigan St.     14-4   63.3    1.05    0.97    +0.08
5.  Minnesota         9-9   62.9    1.07    1.06    +0.01
6.  Michigan         7-11   59.7    1.00    1.01    -0.01
7.  Illinois         10-8   64.2    1.00    1.01    -0.01
8.  Northwestern     7-11   61.8    1.09    1.14    -0.05
9.  Penn St.         3-15   61.3    1.01    1.08    -0.07
10. Iowa             4-14   61.1    0.95    1.07    -0.12
11. Indiana          4-14   64.4    0.93    1.12    -0.19

Last week I somewhat whimsically yet nevertheless accurately noted that Wisconsin's first-place status here was due in part to their ability to beat Indiana to a pulp. Once games against the Hoosiers were factored out conference-wide, however, the Badgers were roughly equivalent to Ohio State and Purdue. Well, no longer. Wisconsin is first no matter how you slice it. Even if there were no IU in this conference, Bo Ryan's team would still have outperformed the rest of the league on a per-possession basis, thanks to easy wins over Iowa and Illinois in the final week. Oh, and a note to NCAA opponents. Forget about getting Wisconsin to turn the ball over. In Big Ten play the Badgers gave the ball away on just 13 percent of their possessions, the lowest figure I've seen since John Beilein was still at West Virginia.

Pac-10: Feast your eyes on round-robin reality!

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Cal              13-5   66.8    1.13    1.01    +0.12
2.  Washington       11-7   71.4    1.07    0.99    +0.08
3.  Arizona St.      12-6   62.3    1.03    0.97    +0.06
4.  Arizona          10-8   68.0    1.04    1.02    +0.02
5.  USC              8-10   62.1    0.94    0.92    +0.02
6.  Oregon St.       8-10   62.2    0.94    0.97    -0.03
7.  UCLA             8-10   63.2    1.01    1.06    -0.05
8.  Stanford         7-11   65.2    1.00    1.06    -0.06
9.  Washington St.   6-12   66.3    0.98    1.06    -0.08
10. Oregon           7-11   65.7    0.96    1.05    -0.09

Everyone plays everyone in the Pac-10. This is what we know: Cal is clearly best, followed by Washington and then Arizona State. Oh, and we know that USC was a freak of nature. Teams that can play defense this well just aren't this bad at offense. Connecticut in 2007 was close but the 2010 Trojans were off the table in this respect. The league's worst offense plus its best defense? That is unusual.

SEC: Still waiting on the West

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Kentucky         14-2   70.5    1.08    0.94    +0.14
2.  Vanderbilt       12-4   70.1    1.10    1.05    +0.05
3.  Tennessee        11-5   68.3    1.01    0.96    +0.05
4.  Florida           9-7   65.6    1.08    1.06    +0.02
5.  Ole Miss          9-7   69.1    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  Mississippi St.   9-7   68.6    1.02    1.00    +0.02
7.  Alabama          6-10   65.4    1.00    0.99    +0.01
8.  Arkansas          7-9   72.3    1.02    1.02     0.00
9.  Auburn           6-10   69.5    1.05    1.08    -0.03
10. Georgia          5-11   66.9    1.05    1.09    -0.04
11. South Carolina   6-10   68.9    0.98    1.05    -0.07
12. LSU              2-14   63.6    0.90    1.08    -0.18

The SEC West, which at the moment is at serious risk of receiving zero bids on Sunday, has not had a team reach the second weekend of the NCAA tournament since LSU's run to the Final Four in 2006.

A-10: Another improbably strong six-seed?

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Xavier           14-2   70.7    1.12    0.95    +0.17
2.  Temple           14-2   62.2    1.07    0.92    +0.15
3.  Richmond         13-3   63.7    1.07    0.94    +0.13
4.  Dayton            8-8   66.7    1.02    0.91    +0.11
5.  Rhode Island      9-7   68.6    1.09    1.03    +0.06
6.  Saint Louis      11-5   63.1    0.97    0.93    +0.04
7.  Charlotte         9-7   68.9    1.02    1.02     0.00
8.  GW               6-10   67.2    1.00    1.01    -0.01
9.  St. Bonaventure   7-9   68.8    1.00    1.04    -0.04
10. Duquesne          7-9   71.9    1.01    1.05    -0.04
11. UMass            5-11   70.6    1.00    1.08    -0.08
12. La Salle         4-12   70.1    0.99    1.07    -0.08
13. Saint Joseph's   5-11   69.5    0.94    1.06    -0.12
14. Fordham          0-16   72.1    0.90    1.15    -0.25

Note that Temple is currently being projected as a four-seed, while I'm seeing Xavier as a six, and Richmond as a seven. As seen here, the Musketeers had the A-10's best offense by a fairly wide margin.

Conference USA: Never mind the bubble, look at the Miners

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  UTEP             15-1   67.8    1.04    0.90    +0.14
2.  Marshall         11-5   68.9    1.10    0.99    +0.11
3.  Memphis          13-3   66.3    1.14    1.05    +0.09
4.  UAB              11-5   65.4    0.99    0.94    +0.05
5.  Southern Miss     8-8   60.6    1.00    0.96    +0.04
6.  Houston           7-9   70.2    1.05    1.02    +0.03
7.  SMU               7-9   60.6    1.03    1.01    +0.02
8.  Tulsa            10-6   66.1    1.03    1.01    +0.02
9.  UCF              6-10   64.1    1.02    1.08    -0.06
10. Tulane           3-13   67.0    0.90    1.02    -0.12
11. Rice             1-15   67.0    0.93    1.08    -0.15
12. E. Carolina      4-12   67.3    0.93    1.09    -0.16

Congratulations to UTEP, which appears to have secured an at-large bid regardless of what takes place at the CUSA tournament. Considering I was hearing just two weeks ago that Tony Barbee's team was "nowhere close to safe," I am relieved for the Miners' sake and for reality's.

Missouri Valley: Info repeated here for easy reference

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  N. Iowa          15-3   59.0    1.03    0.91    +0.12
2.  Wichita St.      12-6   63.4    1.06    0.99    +0.07
3.  Illinois St.     11-7   63.2    1.06    1.01    +0.05
4.  Missouri St.     8-10   64.1    1.11    1.08    +0.03
5.  Bradley           9-9   64.9    1.05    1.05     0.00
6.  Creighton        10-8   64.0    1.05    1.06    -0.01
7.  S. Illinois      6-12   64.6    1.02    1.04    -0.02
8.  Indiana St.       9-9   63.3    1.03    1.06    -0.03
9.  Drake            7-11   62.5    1.03    1.07    -0.04
10. Evansville       3-15   64.0    0.94    1.10    -0.16

You've already seen these numbers--the Valley wrapped up their regular season a week ago--but I'm reposting them here for ease of linking. Congratulations to Northern Iowa, winners of the MVC tournament for the second consecutive year. The Panthers will endeavor to become the first Valley team to win an NCAA tournament game since 2007.

Mountain West: About that fourth-place first-place team....

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  BYU              13-3   71.5    1.14    0.92    +0.22
2.  UNLV             11-5   66.2    1.10    0.95    +0.15
3.  San Diego St.    11-5   64.8    1.09    0.98    +0.11
4.  New Mexico       14-2   66.7    1.09    0.98    +0.11
5.  Utah              7-9   65.4    0.97    0.99    -0.02
6.  Colorado St.      7-9   66.4    0.96    1.03    -0.07
7.  TCU              5-11   63.6    0.98    1.09    -0.11
8.  Wyoming          3-13   68.4    0.94    1.10    -0.16
9.  Air Force        1-15   56.7    0.88    1.16    -0.28

New Mexico went 14-2, beat BYU twice, won the Mountain West, will be the one-seed at the conference tournament, and will almost certainly get a really nice seed at the NCAA tournament. The fact that the Lobos did not outscore the rest of the conference to the same extent that three of their rivals did will not take any of the above away from Steve Alford's team. Nor should it. Then again teams like the Cougars, UNLV, and San Diego State deserve long hard looks in their own right, particularly as such looks relate both to bids and to seeding.

WCC: Info repeated here for easy reference (cont.)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Gonzaga          12-2   68.1    1.15    0.97    +0.18
2.  Portland         10-4   63.4    1.12    0.98    +0.14
3.  Saint Mary's     11-3   66.9    1.14    1.00    +0.14
4.  San Francisco     7-7   67.2    1.00    1.02    -0.02
5.  Loyola Marymount  7-7   68.5    1.02    1.06    -0.04
6.  San Diego        3-11   62.4    0.95    1.03    -0.08
7.  Santa Clara      3-11   64.9    0.93    1.04    -0.11
8.  Pepperdine       3-11   65.7    0.94    1.13    -0.19

Late last night Saint Mary's defeated Portland in the semifinals of the WCC tournament, setting up a title-game showdown between the Gaels and Gonzaga tonight on ESPN. Saint Mary's is currently being projected as a 12-seed, meaning the safest course would be for them to go ahead and win that game. Who knows what will happen the rest of the week--that slot as a 12-seed could well disappear.

John also gets his days of the week confused 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
This Week at the Garde... (03/08)
Next Article >>
One-Bid Leagues (03/09)

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 MARCH 8, 2010
This Week at the Garden: Can Syracuse Bounce...
: Week Ending March 5, 2010
Re-Sizing the Bubble: : Tournaments in Multi...
Entering the Mainstream: Sloan Conference Re...

MORE BY JOHN GASAWAY
2010-03-11 - What's Gotten into Notre Dame?:
2010-03-10 - Is Duke for Real?: ACC Tournament Preview
2010-03-10 - All Eyes on UK: SEC Tournament Preview
2010-03-08 - Tuesday Truths: Final Reality
2010-03-05 - Breaks of the Game: The Role of Chance
2010-03-04 - Player of the Year: Evan Turner
2010-03-02 - Tuesday Truths: Remember Duke?
More...


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