Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

January 26, 2011

Record attendances are killing Syracuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Gasaway @ 12:05 pm

Last night Seton Hall entered its game at Syracuse with arguably the worst offense in the Big East (one as bad as DePaul‘s), while the Orangemen could claim perhaps the league’s best defense (one as good as Cincinnati‘s). The result of a collision like that should be easy enough to predict.

Should be, but wasn’t. The Hall erupted for 90 points in 73 possessions, as they laid a 22-point mugging on the home team. This startling result has variously been attributed to a lack of effort on Syracuse’s part, the Pirates’ surprising accuracy from the field, and, perhaps most intuitively, a Chipotle curse. Plausible explanations all, but working with a team of eager young Prospectus types in white lab coats I have come up with the true source of Jim Boeheim‘s woes.

The problem here is clearly the propensity of Syracuse fans to show up in great numbers every time Villanova comes to the Carrier Dome. Last year the attendance at the Nova game was 34,616, the largest ever attendance for an on-campus game. The Orange, who entered the contest with a 26-2 record, somehow managed to win that game but from that point on they finished the season on a 4-3 fizzle. Same thing this year. Since 33,736 fans showed up at the Dome for last Saturday’s game, the Cuse has gone 0-2 while allowing opponents to score 173 points in just 137 possessions. People of Syracuse, NY! For the love of Boeheim, stop showing up en masse already!

As bad as the Syracuse D’s been over the last 80 minutes of game-clock (and it’s been bad enough to join the Big Ten — hiyo!), this team actually has issues on both sides of the ball. Boeheim’s men are shooting well enough, as always, but this season both the offensive rebounds and the trips to the line have dried up rather emphatically. If the Orangemen don’t get points from their first shot from the field, they don’t have a lot in the way of a Plan B.

The Cuse’s shocking slide into mediocrity may take some of the luster off this “seven ranked Big East teams” business. Indeed for all the talk of a deep Big East where you can never take a night off, the league appears to be at some risk of losing contact with its two-team elite. It’s only January, of course, but right now there’s a lot of space between Nos. 2 and 3.

As the Orange fall 
Through games of January 25, 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.  Pitt             7-1     64.0    1.17     0.99   +0.18
2.  Villanova        5-1     67.3    1.15     1.00   +0.15
3.  West Virginia    4-2     65.3    1.09     1.00   +0.09
4.  Louisville       4-2     70.5    1.09     1.00   +0.09
5.  Marquette        4-4     66.0    1.17     1.09   +0.08
6.  Connecticut      5-2     64.5    1.06     0.99   +0.07
7.  Syracuse         5-3     66.5    1.06     1.03   +0.03
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       3-6     67.8    0.96     1.01   -0.05
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

BONUS “On the other hand” note! Great win on the road last night from Connecticut, who beat Marquette 76-68. The Huskies still aren’t nearly as impressive to laptops as they are to humans (they’re ranked higher in the nation than they are in the per-possession Big East), but performances like last night’s are closing that gap fast. 

John also lets “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacies run amok on Twitter: @JohnGasaway. You can contact John by clicking here. College Basketball Prospectus 2010-11 is now available on Amazon.  

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