Saturday, January 16, 2010

Big East Efficiencies -- the View at the 24.8% Mark

Feeling Like the Primaries?
John Gasaway over at Basketball Prospectus indicated he would put out the offensive/defensive efficiencies for the major (and selected?) conferences "shortly", suggesting the numbers may not mean much at this point (sometime last week) because so little of the conference schedule has been played. Why so early then? As Gasaway explained it, another blogger had started publishing one of the conferences he intended to follow and he was feeling the pressure to get started. Maybe this will put a bit more pressure on him. His columns, whether over at the Big Ten Wonk blog or Basketball Prospectus, are welcomed reads for this blogger.

Gasaway and others usually show the efficiencies and their differential. Those however are not the only interesting numbers. I juxtaposed the win/loss records (with winning percentage) with the efficiencies and differentials, to highlight the disparities (there are a few) between the two. The numbers should be taken with a very large grain of salt at this point, after all we are less than a quarter of the way through the conference schedules...

West Virginia410.80063.61.1520.9740.179
Notre Dame310.75067.31.1431.1230.020
Seton Hall140.20071.41.0271.098-0.071
St. John's130.25066.00.9031.000-0.098
South Florida040.00065.50.9221.141-0.219

The efficiencies are points per possession. For offense, it is how many the team scores and for defense, it represents how many points the team gives up. There is a good deal of evidence that the differential (offense - defense) is biased by the schedule.

Note Marquette's -0.007 seems a bit light given their 1-3 record. The Golden Eagles' misfortune was drawing Georgetown, West Virginia and Villanova (twice) in the first two weeks of conference play. The 1-3 record may seem about right given their youth and personnel losses over the off season, but -0.007 shows evidence of very closely played games (all four were decided by three points or less). Their differential should jump considerably to the positive side when they get to a softer part of their schedule...assuming they stay healthy and keep their spirits up. Oddly, DePaul was not the last in the list, until their game with Providence earlier this week. Another team sat on the bottom, and had some "distance" between itself and the #15 team. Proof that at this point in the season, a single game can still exercise a large influence on the numbers. Games between Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Rugters, South Florida, Marquette and St. John's should start to sort out the conference's bottom two quartiles. The standard deviation for the offensive efficiencies is 0.097, suggesting that there is a greater disparity between offenses in the conference than defenses (whose standard deviation was 0.072).

Despite the muddled middle, teams towards the top and bottom appear to be pretty much as expected. DePaul, Rutgers and South Florida are not surprising. At the top of the conference, West Virginia and Villanova are not surprising. With Louisville and Pittsburgh there was no clear preseason consensus (though the plurality felt the Ville would be there and Pitt would not). Given their progress (and records) to this point, it seems that one should belong, while the other may benefit more from a favorable schedule than what the team has accomplished to date. We will probably have to wait another week or so, when the schedules become a bit more balanced, to see some order to the Big East standings.

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