Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nova - Pitt -- Post Season Efficiencies

Looking at the post season numbers only for both squads, and the picture for Pittsburgh is not pretty.

When Pitt has the ball...
Panther O47.720.439.938.5
Wildcat D45.718.922.142.7

Pittsburgh's offensive efficiency, 105.5, is so far below their Big East efficiency (117.7), that I have to wonder if it is the same team. This is one very bad case of the jitters. Through a single round of the Big East Tournament and 3 NCAA rounds, their overwhelming dominance on the offensive boards (with the dividend of getting that 2nd/3rd/4th FGA) has saved them from their terrible shooting. As for turnovers and getting to the line, those are about the same (more -- turnovers or less -- FTAs/FGAs) as their Big East regular season numbers. The Wildcats have improved their shot defense and presence on the defensive boards; the consistency on defensive boards suggest this is a cornerstone of their defensive presence in the post season. The contrasting numbers on rebounding percentages are a real point of contention for the two squads. Who dominates under Pitt's basket (with the physical struggle translating into fouls and FTAs?) may well be deciding factor. Nova's post season defensive efficiency, at 94.2 is below their Big East season efficiency (101.0), but the difference is not "some other team"-level different.

On the other side of the ball I found a similar regular season-post season disconnect for the Panthers...

When Villanova has the ball...
Wildcat O47.921.337.342.9
Panther D44.413.835.030.4

Pitt's defensive turnover rate and FTA/FGA scream passive defense. In sharp contrast to their offensive rebounding rate, 35.0 is below average for defensive rebounding percentages (subtract from 100 -- Pitt has rebounded about 65% of their opponent's misses). On offense in the post season (I include 2 rounds of the Big East Tournament in Nova's post season) Villanova has shot poorly and lost the ball, but has compensated by grabbing rebounds for 2nd/3rd chance opportunities, and getting to the line. If Villanova's offensive efficiency has suffered in the post season (110.0 in the Big East regular season down to 105.8 in the post season), the downturn is (unlike Pitt) not day and night different. Pitt's defensive efficiency has degraded over the transition from Big East regular-to-post season (101.6 to 102.7), but at the same level as their offense. The transition in pace is also interesting, as Pittsburgh's pace has declined over the course of the season, reaching 66.8 (about average for D1 ball) during the Big East season, but declining to 65.8 during the post season. While this is most likely a deliberate strategy (inferior opponents limit possessions to keep the point margin close, thereby enhancing their chances for an upset), that the Panthers have been unable to date to control and force the pace higher (assuming they want more possessions in the game) has to be troubling for their staff. 65.8 is hardly a grind it out pace however. Villanova's pace has remained pretty constant through the transition from Big East regular season (71.8) to the post season (71.2), another suggestion that the Wildcats are getting pretty much what they want during the game. I have noted several times, particularly in the past two games, how the Wildcats have significantly quickened the pace from the 1st half to the 2nd half. A similar development in this game would be a good sign for fans of the Nova Nation.

Comparing the Competition...
I used the raw efficiency stats from Ken Pomeroy's site (the stats are given in Villanova's and Pittsburgh's respective Game Plan pages -- many thanks to Ken Pomeroy for preparing and making these stats available) for this analysis. The data is for the games each squad played in the Big East Tournament and through the first three rounds of the NCAAs. For Villanova those opponents were Marquette and Louisville (BET), followed by American, UCLA and Duke (NCAA). Pitt's slate of opponents included West Virginia (BET), East Tennessee State, Oklahoma State and Xavier (NCAA). The margins of efficiency (Offensive ppp - Defensive ppp) again shows a decline for Pittsburgh (0.16 down to 0.03), more evidence of post season nerves I suppose. Villanova's margins (0.09 up to 0.12) again suggest the Wildcats are on a run.

Crunching the post season efficiencies and pace numbers in place of Pomeroy's adjusted efficiencies gives Villanova a 6 point win in a game to be played for about 70 possessions. If Villanova can score 75 or more points on Pitt, they will win this game.


stan said...

Hey greyCat,
One hell of a call in your last paragraph AND one hell of a game!

greyCat said...

I think the appropriate commentary on that call includes something about a blind man and a machine gun stan. The game became more offense-oriented in the 2nd half. I did not believe Pitt would score 70+ points on the 'Cats. The kind of game no one should have to lose.

stan said...

You're too modest greyCat. What a battle! What a job by the whole team; managers, players, coaches, everybody! What a collective will to win and not be denied. I hope you make a couple of more calls like that last paragraph. And I hope these cats have a couple of more shining moments!
Go Cats!