Category Archives: tuesday truths

Tuesday Truths: “Grayson-free” edition

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

If Virginia’s just pretty good on defense, what does “Virginia” even mean?

london

His hot shooting has helped his team overcome its defensive shortcomings. Wait, what?

Through games of January 16, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  North Carolina        5-1   76.7    1.13    0.97    +0.16
2.  Florida State         4-1   74.4    1.11    1.01    +0.10
3.  Miami                 2-2   63.9    1.06    0.96    +0.10
4.  Notre Dame            5-0   65.7    1.11    1.04    +0.07
5.  Duke                  2-3   74.2    1.13    1.06    +0.07
6.  Virginia              3-2   62.2    1.10    1.05    +0.05
7.  Louisville            3-2   68.4    1.03    0.99    +0.04
8.  Syracuse              3-3   65.9    1.13    1.11    +0.02
9.  Clemson               1-4   67.4    1.06    1.11    -0.05
10. Virginia Tech         2-3   74.4    1.07    1.13    -0.06
11. Boston College        2-3   72.5    1.02    1.09    -0.07
12. Wake Forest           1-4   71.0    1.04    1.12    -0.08
13. Pitt                  1-4   65.7    1.03    1.12    -0.09
14. Georgia Tech          3-2   70.2    0.98    1.07    -0.09
15. NC State              1-4   75.3    0.97    1.13    -0.16

AVG.                            69.9    1.06
Acceleration since 2015:        10.6%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 28

An average ACC defense will allow the opposing team to score 1.06 points per possession, and thus far on the young conference season Virginia has held opponents to 1.05. This is not what we’re used to seeing from Tony Bennett’s guys. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: “Far too early” edition

Welcome to the season’s first installment of Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 120 teams in the nation’s top 10 conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Why Jefferson matters

jefferson

Not a happy tableau if you’re a Duke fan. (Newsobserver.com)

Through games of January 9, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession   Opp. PPP: opponent PPP
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Duke                  2-1   75.3    1.23    1.01    +0.22
2.  North Carolina        2-1   77.5    1.07    0.90    +0.17
3.  Florida State         3-0   70.8    1.14    0.98    +0.16
4.  Notre Dame            3-0   64.9    1.13    1.07    +0.06
5.  Syracuse              2-1   65.2    1.16    1.11    +0.05
6.  Virginia              2-2   61.4    1.08    1.04    +0.04
7.  Miami                 1-1   63.5    1.07    1.05    +0.02
8.  Louisville            1-2   64.4    0.97    0.97     0.00
9.  Pitt                  1-2   62.3    1.14    1.14     0.00
10. Clemson               1-2   67.5    1.09    1.10    -0.01
11. Boston College        1-2   76.3    1.07    1.11    -0.04
12. Wake Forest           1-3   70.0    1.00    1.09    -0.09
13. Virginia Tech         1-2   77.5    1.05    1.17    -0.12
14. NC State              1-2   78.4    0.95    1.13    -0.18
15. Georgia Tech          1-2   70.7    0.86    1.12    -0.26

AVG.                            69.7    1.07
Acceleration since 2015:        10.3%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 17

Duke plays at Florida State tonight, and the Blue Devils will contest the issue in Tallahassee without the two guys that I, personally, would rank 1-2 in terms of importance, even above Luke Kennard or Grayson Allen. Those absent guys are: 1) Mike Krzyzewski; and 2) Amile Jefferson. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths for an accelerated world

cal

His team is playing much faster this season, a bit like Division I since 2015.

Next week on a day that I trust requires no further specification here, Tuesday Truths will return for an eighth season.

This rite of the bleak midwinter has now appeared at three different sites and been situated amidst wildly varying levels of graphic support. Yet here it is, still standing. It is the Tubby Smith and/or Lon Kruger of college basketball features.

For 2017, Tuesday Truths will track every possession in conference play for the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, American, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, and WCC. This is more or less the top third of Division I, and the idea is to cast a net large enough to either: a) spot a nascent national champion early; or b) offer grounds for proper and informed surprise when a dark horse shocks the world come April.

College basketball is strange in leaving approximately 35 percent of a team’s schedule purely to its coach’s discretion. I certainly don’t ignore that 35 percent — I’ve written lots of words from November up to now — but I have found in addition that there’s much to be gained from looking at the 1200 or so possessions that a team records in conference play. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Final Reality

Marshall

He looks like you look when you’re trying to look relaxed.

Events move fast this time of year. Seven days ago I was patiently building an airtight and irrefutable case for why I would not pick likely No. 8 or 9 seed Wichita State in a round of 32 game against a No. 1 seed. Now the Shockers are said to be in danger of falling out of the field entirely. It’s like I’ve been preparing to defend Aqaba, but now the invaders have come from the land instead of the sea.

The plight faced by Gregg Marshall’s team will rightly be discussed from now until Sunday. Here are three more thoughts to toss into that mix.

The mock bracket confusion triggered by Wichita State is extreme but not unprecedented
It’s true that some name-brand bracketologists have the Shockers out of the field entirely, while others have them as a No. 7 seed. That’s unusual, to say the least. Still, it turns out that past mock brackets have disagreed even more sharply on other teams. Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Law of March Twitter edition

Zg.jpg

In? Out? Twitter will know.

Customarily when March arrives a proposal will surface to expand the NCAA tournament to include every team in Division I. I’m not opposed to the idea, I just think that in effect it’s what we already have. The blank-slate pathway to the field of 68 that’s made available to (nearly) every team is the best thing about the first half of the calendar’s best month.

Now that NJIT is safely ensconced in an auto-bid conference, the tournament-eligible population is once again synonymous with the non-banned and non-self-imposed-ban portion of D-I itself. Every eligible team in the nation save eight (sorry, Ivy — but what you have is kind of cool too) gets a court, a ball and 40 minutes in the form of a bid in their conference tournament. Win enough games and you’re dancing.

It may seem self-evident to observe that most teams don’t win their conference tournaments, but every March I’m struck by Twitter’s hard-wired zeal to proclaim that every single losing team beyond only the most obvious blue-chippers has seen their bubble burst. Losing in a conference tournament does indeed decrease your chances of getting into the field of 68, and Twitter understands this point well. Too well, in fact. Thus the Law of March Twitter:

Fandom hath no hurry like the rush to declare every conference tournament loser “out” of the NCAA tournament.

What my feed loses sight of annually, however, is that there’s a countervailing force being exerted on the losers’ behalf in the form of a fixed number of at-large berths. This ratio — 36 at-large bids versus 300-some-odd losing teams in conference tournaments — stays the same every year as one “weakest bubble ever” follows another like clockwork.

When you hear Twitter saying last rites for your team, grieve not. Rather find strength in what remains behind, namely the fact that the committee has to get to 68 somehow.

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 55 mid-majors are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Major-conference Truths are at ESPN Insider.

It’s unclear how many of the A-10’s clear top three will go dancing
Through games of February 29, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                          W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  VCU                  13-3   70.1    1.13    0.96    +0.17
2.  Saint Joseph's       13-3   70.3    1.12    0.97    +0.15
3.  Dayton               12-4   67.7    1.06    0.94    +0.12
4.  George Washington    10-6   66.5    1.09    1.02    +0.07
5.  St. Bonaventure      12-4   68.9    1.13    1.06    +0.07
6.  Rhode Island          8-8   64.9    1.06    1.01    +0.05
7.  Davidson              9-7   70.1    1.13    1.11    +0.02
8.  Richmond              7-9   67.5    1.10    1.09    +0.01
9.  Duquesne             5-11   74.0    1.03    1.08    -0.05
10. UMass                5-11   70.8    0.98    1.07    -0.09
11. Fordham              6-10   67.0    0.99    1.08    -0.09
12. George Mason         4-12   69.4    0.99    1.10    -0.11
13. Saint Louis          5-11   70.1    0.92    1.05    -0.13
14. La Salle             3-13   65.5    0.93    1.13    -0.20

AVG.                            68.8    1.05
KenPom rank: 8
% of games played: 89

Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Justice can wait edition

It’s been two weeks now since the Farce at Fort Collins, time enough to sift the rubble, digest the lessons learned, and make recommendations for the future.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that requiring officials to huddle around a monitor is no guarantor of justice. Indeed it appears that requiring officials to do so with regard to teams from the state of Colorado in particular is, for some unknown reason, a positive menace.

Reviews drive everyone crazy. They drive me crazy too. Intrusions do detract from the game, and they need to be whittled down to a bare minimum. In a perfect world we would have correct calls every time delivered instantly.

We don’t live in a perfect world. In the old days, of course, we simply lived with the “delivered instantly” part. That did not always go well. Someone needs to write up the cross-sport history of reviews, but my cursory exploration of the subject suggests the 1979 AFC championship game might be a good place to start.

Much closer to temporal home, we may want to think back to the 2011 Big East tournament before we embark on any reforms of the review process. Possibly the only thing worse than seeing refs huddle around a monitor is seeing refs abjectly refuse to huddle around a monitor.

Maybe the next time a Fort Collins situation arises the refs can make sure the replay is running at the correct speed.

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 55 mid-majors are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Major-conference Truths are at ESPN Insider.

A-10: The spelling gods visit their wrath on the “Fayers”
Through games of February 22, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                          W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  VCU                  12-2   70.4    1.15    0.95    +0.20
2.  Dayton               11-3   68.0    1.09    0.94    +0.15
3.  Saint Joseph's       11-3   70.3    1.13    0.98    +0.15
4.  George Washington     9-5   66.4    1.10    1.03    +0.07
5.  St. Bonaventure      10-4   68.8    1.12    1.05    +0.07
6.  Rhode Island          7-7   65.0    1.07    1.01    +0.06
7.  Davidson              8-6   70.5    1.13    1.11    +0.02
8.  Richmond              6-8   67.0    1.11    1.11     0.00
9.  Duquesne              5-9   74.4    1.04    1.07    -0.03
10. UMass                 5-9   71.0    0.98    1.06    -0.08
11. Fordham              4-10   67.2    0.97    1.09    -0.12
12. Saint Louis           5-9   70.3    0.94    1.07    -0.13
13. George Mason         3-11   69.1    0.98    1.12    -0.14
14. La Salle             2-12   65.4    0.92    1.15    -0.23

AVG.                            68.8    1.05
KenPom rank: 8
% of games played: 78

Continue reading

Tuesday Truths: Mock selection edition

The NCAA’s annual mock selection exercise was held last week, and as usual this meant my Twitter stream was filled with (literally) minute-to-minute updates on which No. 9 seed was going 130 miles more distant to which arena in a wholly fictitious bracket. In my most idealized self-conception I most certainly didn’t send out such tweets in February of 2012. In reality I probably did.

(By the way, moving the actual selection to NYC  is an excellent move. Salute.)

When mock selection occurs, the continuing presence of the three-letter antique is made painfully clear. In fact if I were a conspiratorial sort (I rejoice I am not), I would speculate that the NCAA goes through this exercise just so my brethren and sistren in the media will tweet out team sheets to show that once again the three-letter antique is the very bone and sinew of this entire selection process. Speak now or forever hold our peace.

I’ve spoken, and it’s still here. So be it. It will still be here next year, and I’ll still believe that obsessing over “top-50” wins with a metric that’s off by 50 or more spots seven percent of the time is a tad counterproductive, inertial and needlessly blinkered by an arbitrary fascination with round numbers. But it will still be here next year.

I will be too.

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 55 mid-majors are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

Major-conference Truths are at ESPN Insider.

A-10: Dave Paulsen really does not like takeaways
Through games of February 15, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP – Opp. PPP)

                          W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Dayton               11-1   67.4    1.11    0.91    +0.20
2.  VCU                  10-2   70.5    1.14    0.94    +0.20
3.  Saint Joseph's       10-2   69.7    1.12    0.95    +0.17
4.  Rhode Island          6-6   64.4    1.07    0.98    +0.09
5.  St. Bonaventure       9-3   68.9    1.13    1.05    +0.08
6.  Richmond              6-6   67.2    1.11    1.07    +0.04
7.  George Washington     7-5   65.8    1.08    1.06    +0.02
8.  Davidson              6-6   70.7    1.10    1.09    +0.01
9.  Duquesne              5-7   75.5    1.03    1.05    -0.02
10. UMass                 4-8   71.5    0.98    1.07    -0.09
11. Fordham               3-9   66.7    0.96    1.10    -0.14
12. George Mason          3-9   69.2    0.98    1.14    -0.16
13. Saint Louis           3-9   70.2    0.93    1.09    -0.16
14. La Salle             1-11   65.0    0.93    1.16    -0.23

AVG.                            68.8    1.05
KenPom rank: 8
% of games played: 67

Continue reading