Saturday, April 2, 2011

Contributing to Charts for Luke Winn's Final Four preview.

Instead of writing a post this week for Luke Winn's Tourney Blog, I contributed some charts to his massive final Four preview. Click through to the Final Four Intel Report to find what categories the Final Four teams under-and over-performed in during the NCAA tournament, relative to their established rest-of-season levels:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

For Sweet 16 Matchup Issues

My latest is over at Luke Winn’s SI Tourney Blog. In it, I use adjusted efficiency data from Ken Pomeroy and adjusted box score data from’s possession-based college basketball game simulations to spotlight a few remaining teams that have matchup issues on defense. Summary: FSU should do great against VCU, Duke doesn’t want to see Kansas in the final, and Ohio State’s defense may be slightly overrated.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Catching up on links

I’ve been delinquent this week in posting links to my articles elsewhere, so here’s a catch up.

On Monday, I had a piece at SI on Luke Winn’s Tourney Blog that I’m rather proud of: a summary of all my defensive charting efforts this year. If you read only one thing I’ve written all year, I hope it’s that.

Tuesday on NBC Sports, I took a look at whether this year’s tournament was expected to be more or less crazy than usual. The verdict was that the first round probably wouldn’t feature any more upsets than usual, but the later rounds should be wide open.

Though I’m not mentioned by name, I wrote the blurbs for the Southeast region for this Tuesday picks post on Chad Millman’s Blog. The NCAA bracket picks themselves were straight from the mainframe.

And of course, I’ve had lots of posts over at One nice one from this week examines how much a healthy Kyrie Irving was worth to Duke at the start of this year (which is a different question from how much he’ll be worth in his return, due to issues with his game condition, and amount of practice with the team).

Finally, my “official” bracket is up over at NBC Sports. Full disclosure: I didn’t actually enter this one in any of my pools, but it’s a fairly close copy of my ideal bracket. That said, I have zero confidence in my picks this year. I may or may not do better than these guys:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Please Donate To Japan Disaster Relief

Jonathan Foster of From The Barn prompted this post. I hope he doesn’t mind, but I’m going to just reprint his plea to support the Japan relief efforts below:

Hello fellow college basketball bloggers,

By now I am sure you are acutely aware of the disaster unfolding throughout Japan. After a massive earthquake, one of the five strongest in recorded history and a subsequent tsunami, there is indescribable devastation. An estimated 10,000 died, thousands more are injured, millions are homeless and a struggling with access to basic needs like food shelter and water, and hundreds of thousands of others have been evacuated from their homes due to the threat of nuclear meltdowns at several power plants throughout the northeast of the country. It is a horrific situation.

Meanwhile, on our side of the Pacific Ocean, we are gearing up for out favorite time of year, the NCAA tournament. Over the next few days and weeks, many of our websites will see the most traffic we see all season. Please consider using this increased traffic to help the people of Japan, and place either a new post asking your readers to donate, or consider adding a link your various open threads, live blogs, game previews, or we got snubbed rants that you'll be posting between now Thursday.

The people of Japan face a monumental effort in rebuilding their country and their lives, and the least we can all do is throw a few links and few dollars their way. Every little bit helps.

For those willing to encourage their readers to help the cause, I'd suggest links to the American Red Cross dedicated Japan Relief Fund, or donating directly to the Japanese Red Cross, made extra easy by the fine folks at google.

Thanks for reading this, and please considering making a donation and making it easy for your readers to donate too.


Jonathan Foster

Writer and Owner of From The Barn, A Golden Gophers Basketball Blog

This was a classy idea on Jon’s part, and I hope many of you will contribute.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Colorado vs. Kansas

For background on what’s going on here, see my first Project Defensive Score Sheet post.

Here’s the table; notes are after the break.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas

I’m back, baby!

OK, so I still have quite a backlog to get through, but I’ve already done the actual charting on a couple of them, and just need to do data entry and formatting. And Saturday looks to be a marathon charting day for the rest.

Here’s the chart for Thursday’s game:


Thursday, March 10, 2011

For Do Conference Tourneys Matter?

Posted today over at the Peacock: my article that looks at NCAA tournament performance over the past 13 years to determine whether winning your conference tournament is a good thing (higher seed!), a bad thing (tired legs!), or a wash.

Friday, February 25, 2011

For BYU, SDSU, and balance

My latest for NBCSports tackles tomorrow’s BYU-SDSU game, and specifically which of the teams has the balance and interior contributions necessary for an NCAA title run. Hint: The Jimmer doesn’t post up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don’t Worry, defense, I haven’t forgotten about you.

I just wanted to post a quick note to let everyone know that I haven’t abandoned Project Defensive Score Sheet. I have DVR recordings of the last three Kansas games, and I’ll eventually get around to charting them. I’ve just fallen behind because my flesh and blood girlfriend managed to pry me away from the computer long enough to smuggle me into Canada over the long weekend. And I won’t be able to catch up until after this coming weekend, because family’s visiting me in sunny San Diego, and I’d feel like a poor host if I turned them loose on their own just so that I could spend six hours watching basketball games that I already know the outcomes of. So, I’ll probably fall a bit further behind, then catch up in a massive 4-game post sometime next week.

Until then, best of luck to your favorite team.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Iowa State@Kansas

[If you’re unfamiliar with the series, please check out my first Project Defensive Score Sheet post, or else you’re probably going to be very confused.]

Kansas had little trouble with Iowa State, but if you look at the final numbers, you’ll see that the Cyclones managed 0.95 points per possession, which is fine, but not Texas-esque. However, the numbers if the first half were Texas-esque, and with the game basically in hand before halftime, it’s easy to hypothesize that, had the Jayhawks played poorly on offense and thus needed to keep playing good defense, they might have been able to do so. In that light, besides the usual full-game totals, I’m adding a few summary columns for each half, so you can see which players were worse (slacking off?) in the latter period.

Here’s the table. [Apologies to mobile users if this is unreadable, but this was just too large to fit into my usual template.] My comments are after the jump.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Five (And One) For Friday

No new analysis tonight, but I have a couple posts I want to pass on, so I figured I might as well supplement them with a few more that I’ve enjoyed throughout the week. Most of these are taken from the Daily Feast, which I’ve been writing putting together every morning for the blog, so if you followed me over there, a lot of them will seem familiar.

First, the ones directly involving yours truly.

1. Jesse Newell of the Lawrence Journal-World and has apparently been following Project Defensive Score Sheet, because he has compiled the Kansas defensive stats for all the Big 12 games from my charts. It’s something I’d been meaning to do, but kept putting off, usually in favor of, you know, actually watching some basketball. I try to do that now and then. I’m glad he took the initiative, because he did a much more thorough job on the individual player write ups than I would have.

2. This one is a day late and a dollar short. Here’s my third article for, which previews the two-days-ago North Carolina at Duke game. In hindsight, I think I did a pretty good job. I mean, doesn’t this sound like a bit like a recap of the actual game:

“… the Tar Heels, especially Harrison Barnes, have been playing out of their minds since Kendall Marshall took over at point guard. But that new car smell has to fade away some time, and Cameron Indoor seems a pretty reasonable place for that to happen.”

The Tarheels went to Durham, played out of their minds for a half, and then faded in the second as the Cameron Crazies went, well, crazy. So, maybe a day late and a dollar short was a misnomer. Two days late and a dollar up might be more accurate. Because if you placed a bet on the latest college basketball odds after reading my article, with the way I hyped up UNC, I bet you took the Tarheels and the points (+10). Win for you.

Now, here are a few other stories from this week that I want to make sure you caught:

Have a good weekend, folks. Tomorrow should be a fun one.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Heady Company

I don’t usually do link posts, but there’s one making the rounds today that’s worth a mention, for three reasons:

  • It’s a pretty good list of what somebody thought were the 30 best college basketball blogs, so anybody looking for more daily reading material should make sure they’re already hip to those listed.
  • The guy who pulled the list together wrote me a polite email about it.
  • Audacity Of Hoops made it as one of 5 blogs listed in the “Stats” section. Huzzah!

So, head on over to College Crunch, and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Missouri@Kansas

If you’re unfamiliar with this series, check out my first Project Defensive Score Sheet post. This one’s a day late, but these numbers are pretty ugly, so I doubt anybody was exactly giddy with anticipation.

Let’s start with the table:


Monday, February 7, 2011

Nerds of a Feather Work Together

I don’t know if anybody has noticed my recent more frequent (and during usual business hours) posting, but that was a bit of foreshadowing. I’m excited to announce that, starting today, my primary job for the rest of the college basketball season will be to work with I’ll be doing a lot of behind-the-scenes analysis and marketing work, but you guys will mostly notice that I should shortly begin posting regularly on their blog. I’ll continue posting here in my free time, but in order to read everything I write, I encourage you to bookmark the TR blog, and follow TR on Twitter (@TeamRankingsCBB for college basketball, @TeamRankings for general sports). So, head on over and check TeamRankings out. Here’s a fun place to start.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas@Nebraska

[For a recap of what the numbers below mean, and what this series is all about, see my first Project Defensive Score Sheet post.]

Here’s the score sheet (note that Nebraska’s team line has 10 free throws, because those were clearly strategic end-of-game intentional fouls). My thoughts are after the break.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Free throws and “Luck”

In light of today’s great post on Free Throw Plus by John Ezekowitz, I thought I’d share something I noticed a couple days ago. I had heard some Twitter chatter about Illinois consistently ranking low in Ken Pomeroy’s Luck metric, which essentially tells you which teams have tended to be on the right/wrong side of close games. (They’ve fared no better than 158th in the past 7 years.) It made me wonder if they were doing something specific that would lead to their low ranking. So, I decided to see if any of the stats kept by Pomeroy correlate to “Luck.”

Using 2010 team stats, here’s what I found. I highlighted SOS-related stats in yellow, offensive free throw stats in green, defensive free throw stats in red, and bolded tempo. The bars at the right represent the magnitude of the correlation, but keep in mind that the sign also matters:


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas@Texas Tech

[For explanation of what’s below, check out the original Project Defensive Score Sheet post.]

This one will be quick, as it wasn’t a very intriguing game, and I’ve got a busy day. Here’s the table, notes after the break.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas State@Kansas

[As always, check out my first Project Defensive Score Sheet post for information on what this all mean. Also, shout out to Ray Floriani for taking a cue from by good/bad shots tracking, and doing it for St. Bonaventure.]

Sorry this is so late. I promise tonight’s game against Texas Tech will be up tomorrow. Here’s the table. My thoughts are after the break.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Time of Possession & single-team pace

Ohio State’s narrow escape against Northwestern last night presents a great opportunity to talk about an idea that I floated on Twitter a few days ago: keeping track of time of possession (TOP) for basketball teams. That was inspired by an absolutely fantastic post by Rohan Cruyff, who used shot clock data to break down NBA teams’ pace into offensive and defensive “Speed Indexes.” His basic idea: a single number that represents the pace of a team and/or game doesn’t really describe what happens on the court. A fast-paced game can be cause by one team playing at a normal speed, but the other team shooting super early in the shot clock.

Or, as happened last night, a slow-paced game can be caused by one team running the clock down on every possession.

I went through the play-by-play for last night’s game and recorded how much time elapsed on the clock before the first action (shot, turnover, or foul that leads to free throws) of each team’s possession. Here’s what that distribution looked like for each team:


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas@Colorado

For those of you new to this series, check out the original Project Defensive Score Sheet post. The rest of you know what I’m about to say…

“Here’s the chart (click to enlarge). Notes are after the break.”


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Defensive Score Sheet: Texas@Kansas

Better late than never, right? Being a Kansas fan, this wasn’t a fun one to score. Here’s the chart, notes are after the break.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Player of the year hype clouds

My second article for ‘Peacock Sports’ just went live.  This one applies my hype clouds idea to the Player of the Year race, and looks at how hype matches up with actual offensive production for the three main candidates (Walker, Fredette, and Sullinger). Here’s a sneak peak at the January POY hype cloud:


To read the whole thing, head over to

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In Search of: The First Six Minutes Of Texas@Kansas

[EDIT: I’m no longer searching. Huge thanks to Luke Winn, who probably has access to some super secret SI footage vault, for sending me video of the first half. I should get this game scored tonight, just in time to watch Kansas@Colorado.]

Here on the west coast, CBS preempted the beginning of the Texas-Kansas game with 10 minutes of UCLA shooting free throws to close out their win over Stanford.  I don’t really want to post the defensive charting for a partial game, so the Project Defensive Score Sheet stats will be delayed until I can find a source for the opening 6 minutes.  Or until I give up.  If anybody has a link to an online replay stream, or if you want to take a video of the beginning off of a DVR recording, let me know in the comments (or drop me an email).  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Over The Back? What Over The Back? [Or: Minute-Adjusted Tempo-Free Rebounding Leaders]

[EDIT: I made a mistake in the original description of how to calculate OffReb+. I originally wrote that I multiplied by 70.2, but that’s incorrect. 70.2 is the average total rebounds in a game, for both teams, so I actually multiplied by half that (35.1) when I did the calculations. I just had a senior moment when I wrote it out.  Sorry about the confusion. The reason I noticed in the first place is that Mike Rogers over at The Only Colors has a couple nice posts up that expand on this idea (here and here).  Highly worth checking out.  I noticed his numbers didn’t jive with mine, and that’s how I spotted the error in the text.  So, thanks Mike!]

In case you missed it, Tennessee’s Brian Williams made what ESPN calls a “falling over-the-back buzzer beater” last night against Georgia. Bulldog Chris Barnes did a good job of boxing out, but Williams simply reached over his shoulder and snatched ball. The play reinforced a thought that’s been rolling around in my head: that instead of merely praising players with high offensive rebounding rates (whether measured by raw numbers or by offensive rebounding percentage [OR%]), we ought to be praising those that can do it without fouling. It’s not that the fouls themselves are so detrimental – if a player dials back the physicality enough to prevent the foul, he likely prevents the offensive rebound as well. But racking up fouls on high-risk offensive boards leads to reduced minutes for a player that provides at least some value in the form of rebounds.

Take a look at the current top ten offensive rebounders, by OR%, along with their fouls committed per 40 minutes (FC/40). Over half of these guys would foul out if asked to play play 40 minutes:


Hey, look – Brian Williams!

I thought it would be interesting to look at top ten that takes minutes played into account. This should penalize the foulers, plus it should knock out any small sample size wonders.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas@Baylor

[Check out the introduction to Project Defensive Score Sheet for info on what the numbers below mean.]

Let’s start with the chart (click to enlarge).  Notes after the break.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Project Defensive Score Sheet: Nebraska@Kansas

[For background info, see my original Project Defensive Score Sheet post.]

When I started this project, and saw that the Jayhawks’ first three opponents were Michigan, Iowa State and Nebraska, I figured the defensive charting would be what helped me stay interested in what I assumed would be fairly easy victories.  Not so much.

Nebraska’s first half defense was the most impressive I’ve seen from any unit in the few games that I’ve charted.  The help was coming at the exact right time, and recovery back to shooters was great.  To be honest, I’m not sure whether Kansas made adjustments at halftime, or if Nebraska just didn’t quite play as well, but my subjective “Wow, these guys are good” feeling wasn’t nearly as strong in half two.  I guess allowing 4 straight dunks will do that.

Here are the numbers (click to enlarge).  Notes after the break.


Friday, January 14, 2011

It’s All Downhill From Here

Just a short “Cool Factoid” kind of post…

Boston College is sitting at 3-0 in ACC play, despite playing absolutely no defense.  Given their lack of turnovers, rebounds, fouls, steals, and blocks, their team motto must be “Please refrain from rudely jostling the gentlemen in the opposing jerseys.”  Unsurprisingly, Pomeroy’s projections have them finishing at only 9-7, meaning they’re predicted to sputter to a 6-7 record from here on out.

Out of curiosity, I thought I’d look up who else is in for a rude awakening.  Let’s define that as:

  • Currently at least 2 games above .500 in conference play
  • Projected to have a losing record in conference from this point forward

Here’s the complete list, in approximately increasing order of future fan disappointment:

I feel bad for Chattanooga coach John Shulman.  His teams seem bipolar:

  • 2007: started 0-5, finished 6-7
  • 2008: started 7-0, finished 6-7
  • 2009: started 0-3, finished 11-6
  • 2010: started 3-1, finished 3-11
  • 2011: started 5-0, projected 4-9

Maybe it’s the scheduling.

Anyway, if you live near one of these colleges, brace yourself for some future “What’s wrong with X?” treatises from your local columnists.  Or find some homers you can make some profitable futures bets with.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas@Iowa State

Here’s Game 2 of my stab at charting individual defensive stats.  Check Game 1 for an introduction and explanation, otherwise you’ll have no clue what the alphabet soup is trying to tell you.

Before I get to the numbers, I have to complain about the TV coverage last night.  There were multiple times where I missed a turnover or shot attempt because the producers decided to show close ups of bench players celebrating a dunk, or something along those lines.  And then the announcers failed to clue me in on what had just happened (“Great play there by Iowa State” isn’t very informative, guys).  So, my stats didn’t quite line up with the box score at the end of the game, and I lumped the ~5 plays I was missing into the “Team” lines.  Ugh.

More notes and comments are after the break, but first, the tables (click for larger view):


For Purdue’s Life After Hummel

In what to me is an awesome piece of news, I’ve been invited by Mike Miller to write a few articles for this season.  The first one went live yesterday, and takes a statistics-oriented look into the question of how Purdue has managed to play like an elite team this year without Robbie Hummel, after struggling mightily without him at the end of last year.

As a teaser, here’s one of the tables from the article, showing that E’Twaun Moore was forced to carry a ridiculous load after Hummel went down last season, and struggled to do it.  But he’s been able to dial his Shot% back down to normal-for-him this year, and has seen his offense numbers bounce most of the way back to their 2010 pre-Hummel-injury levels:


To read the rest of the piece, head over to

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Project Defensive Score Sheet: Kansas@Michigan

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I just read (most of) Dean Oliver’s Basketball On Paper for the first time.  A few of the chapters focus on defense, and there’s one specifically about individual defensive stats.  Oliver laments the lack of useful defensive data, and talks about a WNBA pet project of his: Project Defensive Score Sheet.  This was (is?) an effort to keep track of individual defensive credit or blame for all of the shots and turnovers a team allows.  After reading the chapter, I rushed to the internet in hopes of finding the results of his efforts, but was disappointed to find very little information available, and very few people attempting to continue or expand on the project.  [See the end of this post for a list of what I did find.]

I thought it would be fun, and possibly illuminating, to keep track of Oliver’s individual defensive stats for some college basketball games.  In a happy little coincidence, the top defensive team in the country happens to also be my favorite team, so I decided to try to chart as many Kansas games as time and TV coverage would allow, starting with this past Sunday’s game against Michigan.

It’s amazing how different the game-watching experience was when I was forced to pay close attention to defensive players.  I would never have otherwise noticed how active – and cagey – Jordan Morgan is.  More on that later.  Anyway, at this point, I don’t have any brilliant ideas on what to do with the numbers, so I’ll simply start by posting the results of each game.

Here’s the table (click for larger view); the explanation is after the break.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gone, Gaddy, Gone

[EDIT: Ken Pomeroy posted a treatise on plus-minus which pointed out there’s a great deal of error inherent in the use of +/- data, something which has also been pointed out to me by John Ezekowitz.  At this point, I’d advise you to take everything I wrote below with a huge grain of salt.  And I doubt you’ll be seeing any more +/- analysis from me.]

About a month ago, I predicted that Duke would be fine without Kyrie Irving.  My reasoning was that, in the games while Irving was still healthy, Duke had actually performed better with Irving on the bench than they had while he was on the floor – about 7 net points per 40 minutes better.  Well, since the toe became The Toe, Duke has actually played ever so slightly better, with a post-Irving-injury adjusted efficiency margin of 39, compared to 37 with Irving:


Obviously that difference is insignificant, but the main point is that, so far, they’ve been fine.

I fear Washington’s prognosis for life without Abdul Gaddy is not so optimistic.  The same +/- data that soothed Blue Devil worries paints an uglier picture for the Huskies (click to enlarge):


Whereas Duke was 7 points per 40 minutes better with Irving on the bench, Washington has been almost 7 points per 40 minutes better with Gaddy in the lineup.  Some of the Twitter buzz hoped that the injury would give freshman CJ Wilcox a spot in the limelight.  That’d be great, as he has a team-high 131.8 ORtg in his limited time.  Taking a quick look at his +/- data, though, Washington has struggled with him in the game, despite his good offensive rating.  A safe bet here would be that Wilcox’s defense is a step down from Gaddy’s, though the KenPom individual stats don’t paint a big defensive difference between the two, other than Wilcox’s more frequent fouling. Whatever the reason for the struggles, somebody will have to step up if Washington hopes to retain its lofty rating.  If I’m Seth Davis, I’m changing my Washington grade from BUY to HOLD.

[On a side note, it’ll be a shame if this injury does end up impacting Washington, as I expect it to.  The Huskies were looking like a great ratings litmus test, as they were in the top 5 in both Pomeroy and Sagarin’s PREDICTOR, yet #23 and unranked in the two major polls.  Now watch, instead of tearing through the Pac-10 like their namesake through the Delaware, they’ll decline due to the impact of this injury, and the “you either win or lose” crowd will get a chance to trumpet their demise as a black mark against predictive ratings.]