Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tuesday Truths: “Statistically extreme” edition

A low-fumble group.

A low-fumble group.

Warren Sharp’s analysis of the low fumble rates recorded by New England since 2007 immediately made me wonder how unusual the Patriots’ numbers really are. And by “really,” I of course mean “in college basketball terms.”

Using our old friend Mr. Standard Deviation, let’s frame this question in a way that anyone who follows our nation’s True Greatest Sport can understand. Here are a few of the more statistically aberrant team-based behaviors currently occurring in college hoops:

                                  SD's better/worse (-)
                                       than mean
Utah efficiency margin                    1.95
Richmond offensive rebound %             -2.31
Arizona defensive rebound %               2.34
Kentucky defense                          2.44
Wisconsin turnover %                      2.46
Kentucky efficiency margin                2.53
San Diego opp. turnover %                 2.54
Wichita State turnover %                  2.59
San Jose State offense                   -2.61
Virginia defense                          2.62
Wisconsin offense                         2.63

Patriot fumble rate, 2010-14              3.83

Basketball stats: Relative to respective conference means, conference games only
Football stat: Relative to NFL mean (offensive plays per fumble lost, all games) 

“Tuesday Truths” has been one of our country’s most cherished traditions since the Taft administration, and in that time I’ve never seen a team statistic vary from its league mean by three standard deviations, much less close to four. I don’t suppose there’s a single correct conclusion to be drawn from that observation — mundane circumstances produce statistically zany outcomes once in a great while. But put me down as one vote for “the most statistically extreme thing I’ve yet run across.”

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Tuesday Truths: “Red velour” edition

The Mayor is so excited about early-season per-possession stats he borrowed an outfit from the Sonic red velvet cake ad.

The Mayor is so excited about early-season per-possession stats he borrowed an outfit from the Sonic red velvet cake ad.

Hoiberg even kind of looks like the Sonic guy.

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 131 teams in the nation’s top 11 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

ACC: Reveal thyself, North Carolina!
Through games of January 19, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                          W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Virginia              5-0   56.4    1.16    0.95    +0.21
2.  North Carolina        4-1   65.3    1.12    0.99    +0.13
3.  NC State              4-2   65.4    1.11    1.01    +0.10
4.  Notre Dame            5-1   60.5    1.14    1.06    +0.08
5.  Duke                  4-2   67.3    1.11    1.04    +0.07
6.  Louisville            3-2   64.2    1.07    1.02    +0.05
7.  Miami                 2-2   63.6    1.11    1.09    +0.02
8.  Syracuse              4-1   62.9    1.00    0.98    +0.02
9.  Pitt                  3-3   59.4    1.05    1.12    -0.07
10. Georgia Tech          0-5   61.2    0.98    1.05    -0.07
11. Wake Forest           1-4   70.2    1.01    1.09    -0.08
12. Florida State         2-4   64.1    1.02    1.11    -0.09
13. Clemson               2-4   58.8    0.95    1.05    -0.10
14. Virginia Tech         0-4   65.6    0.98    1.14    -0.16
15. Boston College        0-4   58.7    0.95    1.12    -0.17

AVG.                            62.9    1.05

On paper the Tar Heels are egregiously underrated, but I can at least see where the pollsters are coming from. The beautiful efficiency margin you see here was achieved entirely at the expense of Clemson (albeit at Clemson) and Virginia Tech (in Chapel Hill). Throw in three coin-flip games (one-point loss at home to Notre Dame, one-point win at home against Louisville, two-point win at NC State) and you have UNC’s conference season to date.
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Tuesday Truths: “Way too early” edition

Scarily Intense LSU Woman says it's never too early for Tuesday Truths.

Scarily Intense LSU Woman says it’s never too early for Tuesday Truths.

Welcome to the season’s first installment of Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 131 teams in the nation’s top 11 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

This year I decided to do something a little different with the season’s first Truths. Ordinarily in mid-January I shield your tender sensibilities from conferences that haven’t played very many games.

But for 2015 I’m just flinging them all at you right from the start. Who cares if Kansas has played just two Big 12 games? In future years archivists will treasure this comprehensive week-by-week look at the entirety of the conference season.

(Hello, archivists! Do people still recline on airplanes?)

ACC: A theory of Virginia
Through games of January 12, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                          W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Virginia              3-0   58.2    1.12    0.99    +0.13
2.  North Carolina        2-1   63.2    1.14    1.01    +0.13
3.  NC State              3-1   64.9    1.09    0.97    +0.12
4.  Duke                  2-1   69.2    1.12    1.03    +0.09
5.  Syracuse              3-0   62.8    1.08    1.00    +0.08
6.  Louisville            2-1   66.3    1.08    1.00    +0.08
7.  Notre Dame            3-1   60.8    1.13    1.05    +0.08
8.  Miami                 1-1   59.2    1.05    1.09    -0.04
9.  Georgia Tech          0-3   62.6    0.93    1.01    -0.08
10. Wake Forest           1-3   71.2    0.99    1.07    -0.08
11. Virginia Tech         0-2   66.0    1.07    1.17    -0.10
12. Florida State         1-2   65.9    1.04    1.15    -0.11
13. Clemson               1-2   59.6    0.97    1.08    -0.11
14. Pitt                  1-2   57.3    0.97    1.11    -0.14
15. Boston College        0-3   60.1    0.95    1.10    -0.15

AVG.                            63.2    1.04

I’m wondering if there might be three differences between what we saw from Tony Bennett’s team in the ACC last season and what’s about to transpire here in 2015. I’d venture to say those differences might be as follows: Continue reading