Monday, March 29, 2010

Something’s Gotta Give: Extra Chances

I noted in a pre-tourney post that Duke makes up for their poor interior shooting by corralling 40% of their misses, which gives them more cracks at the basket.  That’s really only part of the larger story, which is that this Blue Devils team is one of the best in the country at getting themselves more scoring chances than their opponents.  Let me explain what I mean.

Given the national averages listed on Pomeroy’s site for TO% (20%), 3PA/FGA (33%), 3P% (34%), 2P% (48%), OReb% (33%), and FTA/FGA (38%), I estimate that about 2/3 of all possessions are simple one-chance affairs, where a team gets exactly one shot attempt (or one trip to the free throw line).  The actual number’s not important – the point is that one-and-done is the natural state of things.

There are two things a team can do that will disrupt this natural state – grabbing offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers.  We can count how many times a team does these things, and how many times they let their opponents do them, and the difference will represent the “extra chances” that a team has over the course of the game.

Using Duke as an example (numbers pulled from
ExtraChances/G = (OR/G – OppOR/G) + (OppTO/G – TO/G)
ExtraChances/G = (12.9 – 9.7) + (14.2 – 10.8) = 6.6
This can be further adjusted for pace:
EC/100 = 100 * (ExtraChances/G) / (Poss/G)
For the teams in the Final Four, this doesn’t make much difference, so I’ll be ignoring pace for now. (Plus, you could argue that a higher pace for these teams is a good thing, and we don’t want to toss that info.)  I pulled the stats for every 2010 team and found their ExtraChances/G.  Here’s a Google Spreadsheet that shows them all – I’ve highlighted the Final Four teams in blue:

Saturday’s main event will be a battle between the best two major conference teams in the country, in terms of creating extra chances for themselves.  These teams win by exploiting volume, as opposed to efficiency, and obviously they can’t both come out ahead.  If one of them does, there’s your likely winner.

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