Friday, April 15, 2011

On Second Thought -- Plotting Trendlines for Big East Teams (pt 2)

Through the Middle Section of the Conference
While there is something appealing about taking the conference by quartiles -- Big East observers have only another year or two for that approach -- I decided to look at the teams in three parts, taking about five teams with each look. The decision was not random, as the trendlines for teams grouped in this way, highlights a number of common elements...similar records & progressions. As in "Second Thoughts: Part 1" I have highlighted those (six this time...) teams discussed in this post in the year-end conference standings:

Notre Dame1440.776
St. John's1260.667
West Virginia1170.611
Seton Hall7110.389
South Florida3150.167

(T6 #6) Cincinnati

Multiple intersecting trendlines suggest...

Third order polynomial trendlines tend to resist wild gyrations, which makes them a good tool for identifying "long term" trends. Cincinnati's season, per the trendline, suggests a mild slump around games 5 through 12, and indeed the Bearcats' record through that seven game stretch was 3-4 (they finished 11-7 and secured the #6 seed in the BET). Coach Mick Cronin, possibly the conference's strongest hot seat candidate going into the season, secured his tenure (at least in the near term) with a team performance that exceeded preseason expectations. An especially strong 5-1 finish of the conference regular season featured wins over Louisville, Marquette and twice over Georgetown, NCAA invitees all. The lone loss through that run was Connecticut, the team which also eliminated Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA Tournament (and went on to win the National Championship).

(T9 #9) Connecticut

Ahhh, A double helix, perhaps?

The Huskies offer one of the more interesting trendlines from the conference season. Like many teams that finished in this middle third of the conference. Connecticut's trendlines suggest a team that was "evolving" as the season progressed. What sets Connecticut's trendlines apart from the usual in season slump is the suggestion the source of the "pause" was defense. Note the adjusted offensive trendline shows no signs of regressing through the season. The Huskies were one of two squads whose offense (adjusted for the competition) appeared to improve (no regression) over the course of the season.

(8 #8) Georgetown

A curved double intersection like Cincinnati's, but...

The adjusted chart suggests Coach John Thompson's squad peaked around the time of the Villanova game (game 9 on the chart), and then declined through the end of the season. The Hoyas finishd the 2011 season on a four game losing streak that began with the last two games of the conference season and continued through the Wednesday round in the Big East Tournament, culminating with their second consecutive first round of the NCAA Tournament. Junior guard Chris Wright missed three of the games through that stretch, but the chart suggests the offense was in full decline well before Wright missed games. Note the second intersection in the chart, around game 14, was an eight point loss (70-78) to Connecticut. The Huskies also eliminated the Hoyas in New York City exactly three weeks later.

(T9 #11) Marquette

Slump & recovery...

The adjusted chart suggests a decline/slump through much of the season, as Coach Buzz Williams' program bottomed out around the Georgetown game (game #12), then began a slow rebound through the end of the regular season. The Golden Eagles did finish the regular season on a two game losing streak, one that may well have put their NCAA bid on a bubble going into New York City. Marquette rebounded nicely however, running to the Sweet Sixteen where they fell, 81-63, to North Carolina.

(T9 #10) Villanova

The season-long slump?

The season-long decline of the Wildcats' offensive efficiency is clearer in the adjusted efficiency chart. Many of my post game analysis pointed to defensive lapses (also indicated in the trendlines), but the chart hints strongly the offensive decline was persistent and steady throughout the conference season. Stepping back a bit, the decline, from just under 120 (118?) down to about 101, was dramatic for an 18 game stretch. Unlike other teams in this group, there was no rebound...

(T6 #7) West Virginia

No double intersection here either

The trendlines suggest that West Virginia's offensive slump was well timed. The Mountaineers' record from games three through nine was 6-1, with an eye popping 89.9 adjusted defensive efficiency that masked a 10% decline in offensive efficiency during that time period. Coach Bob Huggins' squad finished the conference regular season with an 11-7 conference record (tied for #6 with Cincinnati, earning the 'Eers a #7 seed for the Big East Tournament). West Virginia earned a #5 seed to the NCAA Tournament and lost in the second round to Final Four-bound Kentucky.

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