Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tickets Punched: #1 - #3

Due to an unfortunate incident involving my external hard drive, a parquet floor, and gravity, the files for my similarity scores system were lost this weekend.  I rebuilt most of it last night (though I haven’t had time to add the NCAA performance data for historical teams).  Given a chance to start from scratch, I made a couple changes – one is that I can now easily find comparables for only the offensive or defensive unit of a team.  I’m thinking I should be able to find better fits when looking at only one side of the ball, versus trying to find teams that play similar on both ends of the floor.  For example, I previously saw 2004 Wake Forest come up as a fairly good comparable for some very good all-round teams, despite Wake’s mediocre defense – simply because their offense was a perfect match.  Now the Deacons can move up to the top of the offensive comps list, and I won’t fret about the defense being a bad fit.  If the left shoe fits, wear it, and find another right shoe.

The other change is that I added an auto-chart-creation section that allows me to spotlight the categories which led to the matches, so the comparables are less of a black box.  You’ll see what I mean below, as I’m going to take these charts on a test drive through the teams that have clinched automatic bids so far.  Each of these charts will show the 5 categories that were weighted the highest when calculating the similarity score (SIM in the chart).  These will be areas where the team is particularly good or bad (e.g. 3P% below), along with categories that have a high weight just because they’re always important (e.g. Offensive Efficiency).  The values in these categories for the spotlighted team will be shown, as well as how many standard deviations above or below average they are.  This part will be color coded based on the standard deviations, so you can see at glance whether a team was good (green) or bad (red).  Last, the top 5 comps will be listed, along with their similarity score, and their values for the 5 key categories.  It might sound more complicated than it is; you’ll figure it out right away. (Oh, I should also note that I am only comparing teams today to major conference teams, plus a few exceptions like Gonzaga, Xavier, 2006 George Mason, etc.)



Vegas Watch was spot on when he compared Cornell’s offense to 2009 California – they both hit plenty of 3’s and take care of the ball well, but do little else.  Though Cal somehow managed to make it to the line much more than Cornell.


Neither the Big Red’s strengths nor weaknesses are as obvious on defense, they’re just slightly above average at everything.  (Keep in mind that “average” teams are ranked around 175.) They do rebound and defend the paint fairly well, which has to be attributed to Jeff Foote.



Keep them off the boards, and they’re screwed.  You’d think that wouldn’t be too hard for their first round opponent, as they are 316th nationally in effective height.


OK, they must all be small, pesky types.  I haven’t seen them play, but if these turnovers are the result of pressing bad opponents, they might be in a bit of trouble against a larger team that can throw over the top.  On the other hand, maybe it’s just good collapsing help defense (which might account for the huge number of 3’s teams shoot against them).



Pretty good all around, as evidenced by the fact that there is a Final Four team in their comps (2004 OSU).  Few teams both shoot and rebound as well as they have this year (2007 Georgetown is the only Pomeroy-era major conference team that matches their marks).  I’ll be curious to see their draw.


Another Final Four team (2005 Louisville), and more bright green – how come I haven’t heard anybody touting them as a potential giant killer?  They’ve got great interior defense, they cause turnovers (including via steals, which are often worth 2 points), they shoot well from 2 and 3, they can rebound, they get to the line.  And they have no severe weaknesses, which would have shown up here in red.  Solid all around.

I have to run, but I want to get this up now.  More to come tonight or tomorrow. [EDIT: Part 2 is here.]

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