PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 for 2017: Money Ball on the Hardwoods
Welcome to Bracketnomics 505 for 2017–The Advanced Level Course in Picking NCAA Tournament winners. The best way to describe our PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament Bracket-Picking formula is to compare it with the 10-K financial reports of publicly traded companies. Each team’s data serves as a prospectus showcasing their worth. Do you want to buy or sell based on what the data portrays?
If you have followed our statistical releases for the past 17 years, you will not see any real changes this year, as the PiRate Ratings have added only one minor statistical detail to our repertoire, and those are in our algorithm formulas and not in the data to be presented.
However, we have strengthened our beliefs in the idea that the NCAA Tournament is a different animal from the regular season, so there are teams that did well in the regular season and even won their conference, but they are ill-prepared for the postseason. Now, we actually have new incites into why, and it comes from our experiences with Major League Baseball.
Some of you reading this know that I, the Captain of the PiRate ship, am a baseball metric specialist. You can call me one of the “Moneyball” scouts or as some even say, a “Beane Counter.” If you read the book, Mr. Beane had a famous quote, that we will paraphrase to eliminate four-letter words: “My ‘stuff’ doesn’t work in the playoffs.”
Re-reading that statement sent me off on a long research project last Autumn leading to my spending way too many hours trying to put math formulas to Beane’s statement. What I came up with was this: in baseball, the offensive statistics that produce runs, for example weighted On-Base Average, works quite effectively during the regular season, when a team plays a certain number of games against every team in the league. Thus, a team will play a goodly number of games against mediocre and poor teams, and having an offense built on getting on base and hitting for power dominates against the weaker teams.
But, in the playoffs, all the opponents are very good. All of them have good offenses and usually very good pitching and defenses. Trying to win by getting a lot of runners on base by the walk and then hitting three-run homers might work against the number four and five starters of a pitching staff or the mediocre top level pitchers of the 90-loss teams, but in the playoffs, you see mostly top three starting pitchers from teams that won 90 or more games. And, Beane’s “stuff” does not work against these elite teams with the top pitchers. You have to be able to steal an extra base on a hit, steal a base, and execute the hit and run against the best of the best, which means you frequently play for just one run, because the pitching is too good to give up those three-run homers and will scatter baserunners over the course of 6 or 7 innings. Think Maury Wills scratching out a run for the 1965 Dodgers, while Sandy Koufax shuts out the opponent in a 1-0 win.
The same belief can be applied to college basketball in the NCAA Tournament. A team might win their conference by playing excellent half-court offense and defense, even if they do not rebound well nor force turnovers and pick up steals. Let’s use Purdue in the Gene Keady days as an example. Keady’s teams executed half-court offense and defense like precision clockwork. The Boilermakers almost always enjoyed better shooting opportunities than their opponents. They usually finished with a better field goal percentage than their opponents every year, and they won or shared a lot of Big Ten titles.
These Purdue teams were not all that strong on the offensive glass, and while they played intelligently and did not turn the ball over much, they did not force turnovers, nor did they steal the ball very much, frequently finishing at or near the bottom of the Big Ten in these stats.
Like Moneyball and the A’s, this “stuff” (excellent half-court offense and defense) worked just fine in the regular season, where Purdue easily handled the bottom half of the Big Ten year after year and did just well enough against the top half to finish 15-3 or 14-4. Then, the Boilermakers would get into the Big Dance looking like a Final Four contender. Unfortunately, their “stuff” didn’t work in the NCAA Tournament, and the Boilermakers lost as favorites early in the Dance to athletic underdogs with double-digit losses (Auburn, Florida, LSU), never making it to the Final Four in that time. They were no longer playing the 6-12 and 8-10 Big Ten teams Once their opponent was also good at getting open shots and preventing them on defense, the extra scoring opportunities derived from getting offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers, especially by steals, took on much more significance, just like running the bases and playing for one run in the Major League Playoffs.
Just in case you say that maybe Purdue was not capable of getting enough talent to go to the Final Four, remember that Purdue did make the Final Four under previous coach Lee Rose (he also led Charlotte to the Final Four in 1977), when Rose’s coaching philosophy included pressure defense with the hope of getting a lot of steals and an inside glass cleaner or two to dominate on the boards.
This year, we will give added weight to our special R+T metric along with schedule strength and ability to win away from home as serious factors to consider when picking teams to advance in the NCAA Tournament. These will be the three of our basic building blocks to begin the process of eliminating pretenders from the true contenders. Here are our basic blocks to begin our search for a national champion.
1. R+T Rating
2. Schedule Strength
3. Ability to win away from home
4. A member of a power conference (AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC)
5. One long winning streak against quality competition or two winning streaks of 6 or more games.
Don’t worry if this looks a bit challenging for you at this point. We will explain it all in this primer, and your test is an open book test, so you will pass with flying colors.
Here is a description of all the pertinent information you need to pick your brackets. We will explain each important statistic and tell you how it applies to the NCAA Tournament. Then in the next edition, we will apply it to all 68 teams in the Big Dance and let you use what you want to fill out your brackets. You can easily open two windows with this primer in one window, and the statistics in the other window, and voila, you have an exceptional reference at your disposal.
Remember one important bit of information–this process deals a lot with past tendencies trying to predict future outcomes. It is mechanical and includes limited subjective data. It will not include information such as how your team’s star player may have the flu this week, or he ended his season in the Pac-12 Championship Game with an ACL injury, so if you have other information, by all means include this in your selection process.
The PiRate Ratings Criteria Statistics
For 16 years, the PiRate Ratings have relied on specific back-tested data that showed us what stats have been important in selecting Final Four teams. We looked back in history to see how previous Final Four teams dominated in certain statistical areas while not dominating in other areas. Here is what we found.
For general bracket picking to the Final Four, look for teams that outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game. Over 85% of the Final Four teams since the 1950’s outscored their opponents by an average of 8 or more points per game.
More than 80% of the final four teams in the last 50 years outscored their opponents by double digit points per game. When you find a team with an average scoring margin in excess of 15 points per game, and said team is from one of the six power conferences, you have a team that can advance deep into the tournament.
This is an obvious statistic. If State U outscores opponents by an average of 85-70 and Tech outscores similar opposition by an average of 75-70, State figures to be better than Tech before you look at any other statistics.
In the days of the 64 to 68-team field, this statistic has become even more valuable. It’s very difficult and close to impossible for a team accustomed to winning games by one to five points per game to win four times in a row, much less six or seven consecutive games.
This statistic gives the same significance and weighting to a team that outscores its opposition 100-90 as it does to a team that outscores its opposition 60-50. As you can see from looking at all the NCAA Champions in the 2000’s, every team had a scoring margin of 8 or better, and 15 of 17 had double digit scoring margins (and all from power conferences).
A look at recent national champions’ scoring margins
2016 Villanova: 13
2015 Duke: 15
2014 UConn: 9
2013 Louisville: 16
2012 Kentucky: 17
2011 UConn: 8
2010 Duke: 16
2009 North Carolina: 18
2008 Kansas: 19
2007 Florida: 17
2006 Florida: 15
2005 North Carolina: 18
2004 UConn: 15
2003 Syracuse: 10
2002 Maryland: 14
2001 Duke: 20
2000 Michigan St.: 15
Field Goal Percentage Differential
Take each team’s field goal percentage minus their defensive field goal percentage to calculate this statistic. Throughout time, the differential among the most successful teams has been +7.5% or better, and for most Final Four teams, the differential has been positive by 3% or better. For example, a team that shoots 47% while their opponents shoot 39% has a FG% differential of 8%.
Teams that have singificantly positive field goal percentage differentials are consistently good teams. A team can win a game or two or possibly even three games with negative field goal percentage differentials, but in the Big Dance, they certainly are not going to win six games like this, and they have little chance to win four games.
This statistic holds true in back-tests of 50 years. Most teams that have won the tournament had FG% differentials above 3%, and many had more than a 7.5% field goal percentage advantage. In the years of the 64 to 68-team tournament, this stat has become a more accurate predictor, especially when the team comes from a power league. In the 21st Century, the teams from power conferences with field goal percentage margins in the double digits have dominated the field. For example, if you see an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, or SEC team with a FG% differential of +10% or better, that team is going to be very hard to beat in large arenas with weird sight lines.
One caveat: in the most recent couple of years, shooting percentages have normalized somewhat, so overall, FG% differentials are moving closer to 0. More three-point shooting, a reduction in the shot clock, and more fast break offenses have led to more parity in shooting percentages. And, this has to be something to monitor closely this year; teams that had the best field goal differentials last year were upset early by teams that excelled in forcing turnovers and running the fast break. This could mean that shooting percentages are going to lose some of their importance, while extra scoring opportunities are going to become more important. Think about that as you read on.
This statistic holds up all the way back to the early days of basketball, in fact as far back to the days when rebounds were first recorded. The teams that consistently control the boards are the ones that advance past the first weekend in the tournament. What we are looking for here are teams that out-rebound their opposition by five or more per game. In the opening two rounds, a difference of three or more is just as important.
There are complete rebounding statistics back to 1954, and in the 61 NCAA Tournaments between 1954 and 2014, the National Champion out-rebounded their opponents for the season all 61 times! Yes, no team with a negative rebound margin in that season has ever won the NCAA title.
The reason this statistic becomes even more important in mid-March is that teams do not always shoot as well in the NCAA Tournament for a variety of reasons (better defense, abnormal sight lines and unfamiliar gymnasiums, nerves, new rims and nets, more physical play with the refs allowing it, etc.). The teams that can consistently get offensive put-backs are the teams that go on scoring runs in these games. The teams that prevent the opposition from getting offensive rebounds, holding them to one shot per possession, have a huge advantage. Again, there will be some teams that advance that were beaten on the boards, but as the number of teams drop from 64 to 32 to 16 to eight, it is rare for one of these teams to continue to advance. West Virginia in 2005 made it to the Elite Eight without being able to rebound, but not many other teams have been able to do so.
There have been years where all four Final Four participants were in the top 20 in rebounding margin, and there have been many years where the champion was in the top 5 in rebounding margin.
Use the rebounding rule in selecting your brackets, but think about this. Rebounding is only one way to obtain a possession. There is another way to get a possession–via a turnover. Bear that in mind as you read on. So, don’t just use rebounding margin alone, as it is only one part of the equation.
Turnover Margin & Steals Per Game
Turnover margin can give a weaker rebounding team a chance to advance. Any positive turnover margin is good. If a team cannot meet the rebound exceptionally well, they can get win if they have an excellent turnover margin. Not all turnover margin is the same though. A team can have an excellent turnover margin because they seldom turn the ball over. Committing 10 turnovers per game, while the opponent commits 12 leads to a positive turnover margin of 2 per game, but it seldom amounts to much in this instance. A team that forces a high number of turnovers by way of steals has a real advantage. A steal is better than a defensive rebound, because most of the time, a steal leads to a fast-break basket or foul (or both). When a team steals the ball, they are already facing their basket, and the defense must turn around and chase. Many steals occur on the perimeter where the ball-hawking team has an immediate numbers advantage. A steal with quick points can demoralize a team, especially one that plays patiently and limits possessions.
In NCAA Tournament play, one quick spurt can be like a three-run homer in the World Series, and teams that either steal the ball and/or control the boards are the ones who will get that spurt.
Like the rebounding margin, we must not judge turnover margin and steals as standalone criteria, as they are just part of an all-encompassing statistic to determine extra scoring opportunities and the ability to go on lethal scoring spurts. What follows is the criteria to use.
The All-Important PiRate Ratings R+T Margin
Using both rebounding and turnover margin, how best can we assign an extra scoring value and the ability to go on big scoring spurts? In a tight game, a 10-0 run in three minutes will usually lead to a win for the team that makes the spurt, so we need to have a stat that shows us how much a team has spurt potential.
Our answer is the PiRate Ratings’ “R+T Rating” The R+T Rating combines rebounding margin, turnovers, and steals, and weights the three stats so that the result is a number that indicates what Clark Kellogg calls “spurtability.”
The R+T Rating Formula is: (R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp S) + T, where R is rebounding margin, S is average steals per game (Opp S is opponents steals per game), and T is turnover margin. The numbers are all rounded to one decimal point.
If a team’s R+T rating is 20 or better, and they hail from a power conference, this is a serious potential Final Four team. North Carolina had the top R+T rating last year among the power conference teams, and the Tar Heels came within a second of winning the title. In almost every year since steals have been officially kept as a statistic, the Final Four teams have enjoyed double-digit R+T Ratings.
Look for teams with R+T ratings at 15 or above. These are the teams that will get several additional opportunities to score points and go on scoring runs that put opponents away. When both teams have flashy R+T Ratings, this game becomes much harder to predict, because both teams could go on big scoring spurts.
When the R+T is 7.5 to 15, you have a team that can overcome a few other liabilities to win and still advance to the Final Four if they have exceptional FG% differentials, really difficult schedules, and an ability to win away from home. However, when they run into a team from the 15 or better R+T range with similar shooting percentages and defense, this frequently means the end of the line for the lower R+T rated team.
When the R+T is 4.5 to 7.5, you have a team good enough to win early and get to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 but not advance past that round, unless said team has a very large field goal percentage difference margin.
When the R+T is 0 to 4.5, you have a team that cannot advance very far in the NCAA Tournament. They might win the Round of 64 and might have some chance to win in the Round of 32, but if they sneak into the Sweet 16, they are a candidate to lose big to a team with the right stuff in the R+T department.
When the R+T stat is negative, this team has the same chance of making the Final Four as a mule has of winning the Kentucky Derby. Many monumental early upsets where a double digit seed upsets a single digit seed frequently comes about when the favorite has a negative R+T rating, or the underdog has a decided R+T Rating advantage along with a halfway decent schedule strength.
A few years ago, Georgetown had a negative R+T rating but was a prohibitive favorite against Ohio U. The Bobcats had a positive R+T rating and decent numbers in the other PiRate criteria. We called for Ohio to upset Georgetown in the first round, and Ohio won by double digits.
The same thing occurred a couple years later when Georgetown once again had a negative R+T rating as the Hoyas faced unknown Florida Gulf Coast. FGCU not only pulled off the upset, they blew GU off the floor.
Last year’s negative R+T teams all lost their first games in the NCAA Tournament. In 2015, there were two Power Conference teams with negative R+T numbers, Oklahoma State and St. John’s. We pegged these two teams to lose immediately as 9-seeds against 8-seeds with positive R+T ratings, and they did just that.
The inferior R+T might win a game over the superior due to other factors, but a poor R+T rated team is eventually going to get thumped when their shots don’t fall, or they run up against a great defense (there are a lot of great defenses in the Dance).
Power Conference Plus Schedule Strength
Up to this point you might have been thinking that it is much easier for New Mexico State or North Dakota to own these gaudy statistics than it is for Arizona or Butler. And, of course, that is correct. We have to adjust this procedure so that teams that play tougher schedules get rewarded and teams that play softer schedules get punished.
Basically, the cut-off line for a Final Four team the way we rate schedule strength is 54.00, although there have been a few long shots like George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth that were below that mark. While the lowest National Champ was Florida in 2007 at 54.30, the average for the last 13 champions has been over 58. Also, bear in mind that of the 17 winners since 2000, 6 came from the ACC, 5 from the Big East , 3 from the SEC, and one each from the American, Big 12, and Big Ten. The Pac-12 has not produced the national champion since Arizona in 1997.
The last national champion that was not a member of a power conference was UNLV in 1990. Before that, it was Texas Western (UTEP) in 1966. In more than 60 seasons, just two teams that were not in power conferences have won the national title! Non-power teams have made it to the Final Four (VCU, Wichita State, George Mason, Penn), so don’t totally discount a team like Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, and Wichita State to make the Final Four or at least the Elite 8.
In the most recent years, this stat has become quite a bit more important. Villanova and North Carolina were among the tops in schedule strength last year, with Syracuse and Oklahoma being ranked high as well. We have added a bit more weight to schedule strength this year.
Won-Loss percentage Away From Home Floor
This should be obvious. Except in the rarest of instances (like Dayton playing in a First Round Game in 2015), all NCAA Tournament games are played on neutral courts. Some teams play like titans on their home floor but become pansies when playing away from home. It is one thing to accumulate great statistics by scheduling 19 home games, three neutral site games, and eight away games and then going 18-1 at home, 1-2 on the neutral site, and 3-5 on the road to finish 22-8. However, we need to locate the teams that continue to dominate away from home. Combine the road and neutral games played and look at that percentage. When you find a team with a 75% or better win percentage away from home, this team is a legitimate contender in the Big Dance. When this number tops 85%, you have a tough team capable of winning four consecutive games and advancing to the Final Four.
The NCAA Tournament Championship requires one team to win six consecutive games (seven if in the First Four) to become the champion. It requires the other Final Four teams to win four or five times to get to the Final Four. Should we expect a team that has not been able to win five conseccutive games during the regular season against all weaker competition to win five games in a row against the elite competition? It is a major plus if a team has more than one 6-game winning streak or one 10-game winning streak during the season.
Putting It All Together
1. Begin with teams from power conferences and schedule strengths better than 54.0 (we will give you each team’s schedule strength in the stats reveal).
1A. If the team does not come from a power conference, but they have dominated this year and their schedule strength is better than 54, they should still be in your consideration as a Final Four contender.
2. Look for teams that had a winning streak of 10 games or more, or teams with both 5+ and 6+ winning streaks during the year. The minimum for two different winning streaks is that one needs to be at least six games and one at least five games.
3. Look for teams with winning records away from home when looking at Sweet 16 contenders and a winning percentage of 66.7% or better when looking for Final Four teams.
4. Look for teams with R+T Ratings of 15.0 or better when selecting Final Four teams, 10.0 or better when selecting Elite 8 teams, and 5.0 or better when selecting Sweet 16 teams. Of course, you have to look at their potential opposition and remember that the better R+T Rating has a big advantage when teams have comparable schedule strengths.
5. While relying more on R+T Rating than rebound margins, remember that no National Champion ever had a negative rebound margin.
6. Look at teams with positive FG% differentials and use this stat along with those above as a significant part of your method for picking winners.
7. Look for these power conference teams that have scoring margins of 8 or above along with schedule strengths of 54 or above.
These are the basic PiRate criteria. You might be shocked to see that there are some key statistics that are not included. Let’s look at some of these stats that the PiRates do not use.
Assists and Assists to Turnover Ratio
While a high number of assists means that a team is most likely a great passing team (and we love great passing teams), this can hide a potentially lethal problem in the Big Dance. Let’s say a team gets 28 field goals and has 24 assists. That may very well indicate this team can pass better than most others. However, it may also mean two other things. First, this team may not have players who can create their own offense and must get by on exceptional passing. That may not work against the best defensive teams in the nation (like the type that get into the Dance).
Second, and even more importantly, it may indicate that this team cannot get offensive put-backs. As explained earlier, the offensive rebound is about as important as any stat can be in the NCAA Tournament. So, rely on this stat only if you must decide on a toss-up after looking at the more important stats. We would much rather go with a team that has 15 offensive rebound potential than a team that has assists on 85% of its made field goals. The NCAA Tournament is full of tough defenses, weird site lines, tight rims, and even tighter nerves, and the offensive put-back is an even more potent weapon than in the regular season, especially in the Round of 64, the Sweet 16, and the Final Four games. The Round of 32 and Elite 8 rounds tend to be less tense, because it is the second game on the playing floor for the participants.
Free Throw Shooting
You might say we are contradicting the Four Factors with this, but we are not. It is the least important of the Four Factors, and we only apply this caveat to the NCAA Tournament. Free throw shooting is similar to a walk in baseball. During the regular season, a lot of walks lead to a lot of runs, and a lot of free throw shooting leads to a lot of points, but things change in the Big Dance.
Of course, free throw shooting in the clutch decides many ball games, even close NCAA Tournament games. However, history shows a long line of teams making it deep into the tournament with poor free throw shooting percentages, and teams that overly rely on free throws may find it tough getting to the line with the liberalized officiating in the tournament.
Let’s say a team shoots a paltry 60% at the foul line while their opponent hits a great 75% of their foul shots. Let’s say each team gets to the foul line 15 times in the game, with five of those chances coming as 1&1 attempts, three coming as one shot after made baskets, and the seven other trips to the line as two shot fouls.
For the 60% shooting team, they can be expected to hit 3 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 1.8 of the 3 bonus shots; they can be expected to hit 1.8 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to hit 8.4 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 15 out of 25.
The 75% shooting team can be expected to connect on 3.75 of 5 on the front end of the 1&1 and then 2.8 of 3.75 on the bonus shot; they can be expected to hit 2.3 of 3 on the one foul shot after made baskets; and they can be expected to connect on 10.5 of 14 on the two shot fouls for a total of 19.35 out of 25.75.
A team with one of the top FT% only scores 4.35 more points at the foul line than a team with one of the worst. That is not a lot of points to make up, and when you consider that this is about the maximum possible difference in college basketball, this stat is not all that important. Also consider that teams that shoot 60% of their foul shots but still make the NCAA Tournament are almost always the teams that have the top R+T ratings, which is much more important after the Ides of March.
Teams that make the NCAA Tournament with gaudy free throw percentages frequently get there by winning close games at the line. In the NCAA Tournament, fouls just don’t get called as frequently as in the regular season. The referees let the teams play. So, looking at superior free throw percentage can almost lead you down the wrong path.
Ponder this: The 1973 UCLA Bruins are considered to be the best college basketball team ever. That team connected on just 63% of its free throws. They had a rebounding margin of 15.2, and they forced many turnovers via steals thanks to their vaunted 2-2-1 zone press. In the great UCLA dynasty years from 1964 through 1973 when the Bruins won nine titles in 10 seasons, they never once connected on 70% of their free throws in a single season and averaged just 66% during that stretch.
You have to look at this statistic two different ways and consider that it is already part of field goal percentage and defensive field goal percentage. Contrary to popular belief, you do not count the difference in made three-pointers and multiply by three to see the difference in points scored. If two teams connect on 28 field goal attempts, and if Team A hits eight treys, while their Team B opponents hit three, that is not a difference of 15 points; it’s a difference of five points. Consider made three-pointers as one extra point because they are already figured as made field goals. A team with 28 made field goals and eight treys has scored only one more point than a team with 28 made field goals and seven treys.
The only time to give three-point shots any weight in this criteria is when you are looking at a toss-up game, and when you do look at this stat, look for the team that does not rely on threes to win, but instead dominates in the paint on both sides. To put it another way, teams that live and die by the outside shot will almost always die before they can get to the Final Four, if they cannot dominate inside. The tournament is won in the paint. This isn’t the NBA, and there are few Steph Curry’s in college ball.
One Big Star or Two Really Good Players
Teams that get to the Dance by riding one big star or a majority of scoring from two players are not solid enough to advance very far. Now, this does not apply to a team with one big star and four really good players. I’m referring to a team with one big star and four lemons or two big scorers with three guys who are allergic to the ball. Many times a team may have one big scorer or two guys who score 85% of the points, but the other three starters are capable of scoring 20 points if they are called on to do so. These teams are tough to stop. Usually, it is the mid-major teams that appear to be sleeper teams that could beat a favored opponent because they have one big talent that falls under this category. For instance, South Dakota State’s Mike Daum this year fits that category. He cannot carry the Jackrabbits to the Sweet 16 on his 25 points per game if the rest of the team does not produce as well.
If you have a team with five double figure scorers, they will be harder to defend and will be more consistent on the attack side. It is hard for all five players to slump at once. Also, if you have a team where four or more players have scored 20 or more points in a game, and this team hails from a power conference, this team presents defensive matchup problems for its opponents.
We hope this primer will help you when you fill out your brackets this year. The raw statistics on each of the 68 teams follows at the end of this primer. Coming later today, we will show you how we picked our bracket as well as issue our Red-White-Blue Power Ratings for the First Four Opening Round Games in Dayton on Tuesday and Wednesday.
For those of you new to this website, our Red-White-Blue Ratings are based on three different algorithms using Basketball’a Four Factors. If you don’t know what the Four Factors are, here is an in-depth primer.
THE FOUR FACTORS
Statistician and author Dean Oliver created this quartet of metrics. He did for basketball what the incredible Bill James did for baseball. Oliver wrote the excellent book Basketball on Paper, where he showed that four separate statistical metrics could show how winners beat losers in the NBA. Later experimentation showed that this metric worked for all levels of organized basketball when strength of schedule is factored into the metric, and the weighting of each factor was altered as the talent level of play decreased.
The four factors are:
1. Effective Field Goal Percentage
2. Rebound Rate
3. Turnover Rate
4. Free Throw Rate
Each factor applies to both offense and defense, so in essence, there are really eight factors.
Each Factor has a formula that can be calculated if you have the statistics. Don’t worry. Our team has compiled all the statistics for every one of the 68 teams in the Dance.
For those math lovers of statistics, and we know a lot of you from baseball, here are the Four Factor stats and their fomulas:
1. Effective FG% = (FGM + (.5 * 3ptM))/FGA where FGM is field goals made, 3ptM is three-pointers made, and FGA is field goals attempted.
If a team made 800 FG, 250 3-pointers, and attempted 1750 field goals, their EFG% is:
(800+(.5*250))/1750 = .529 or 52.9%
2. Offensive Rebound Rate = Offensive Rebounds/(Offensive Rebounds + Opponents’ Defensive Rebounds)
If a team has 500 offensive rebounds and their opponents have 850 defensive rebounds, their Offensive Rebound Rate is:
500/(500+850) = .370 or 37.0%
The defensive equivalent of this factor is defensive rebound rate (Opponents Offensive Rebounds/(Opponents Offensive Rebounds + The Defense’s Defensive Rebounds)
If a team’s opponents have 400 offensive rebounds, while the team has 800 defensive rebounds, the defensive rebound rate is: 400/(400+800) = .333 or 33.3%
3. Turnover Rate = Turnovers per 100 possessions that do not include offensive rebounds. Possessions at the college level can be estimated with incredible accuracy by this formula:
(FGA + (.475*FTA)-OR+TO)/G, where FGA is field goal attempts, FTA is free throw attempts, OR is offensive rebounds, TO is turnovers, and G is games played.
We remove offensive rebounds from the TO Rate formula, because very few turnovers occur following an offensive rebound. Most of the time a shot is taken immediately, and this would skew the factor.
If a team has 1700 FGA, 650 FTA, 425 OR, and 375 TO in 30 games played, their average actual possessions per game is:
(1700+(.475*650)-425+375)/30 = 65.3
Removing the offensive rebounds, their true possessions are:
1700+(.475*650)+375 = 2,384 (rounded from 2383.75)
Once again, the formula for TO Rate is: percentage of Turnovers per / possessions
(TO/Possessions) * 100
Thus for the team above with 375 TO in 2,384 Possessions, their TO Rate is:
100* (375/2384) = 15.7%
4. Free Throw Rate: Oliver and others determined that getting to the line was actually more important than making the foul shots, so they did not include made free throws in their equation.
Their formula was simply: FTA/FGA, as they believed that getting the other team in foul trouble was the most important part.
Later statisticans changed this formulas to FT Made/FGA, which included made free throws, but it also erred by making teams that do not attempt many field goals but lead late in games look much better than they really were. If a team like Northern Iowa attempted just 50 field goals per game and won a lot of games by three or four points, going to the foul line many times late in the game, they would pad this stat by making a lot of FT in the final minutes when the opponent was forced to foul.
A third group of statisticians, including the statheads at the PiRate Ratings, believe that free throws made per 100 possessions is a better metric, and thus we go with this rating, which we call FT Rate*:
If the team above with 65.3 possessions per game averages 17 made free throws per game, then their FT Rate* is:
17 / 65.3 * 100 = 26.0
All The Stats On The 68 Teams
|East Tennessee St.||34||935||1905||256||669||591||840||345||892||1237||502||284||2717|
|Florida Gulf Coast||33||978||1947||213||608||452||644||370||873||1243||411||201||2621|
|Mount St. Mary’s||34||831||1873||246||690||415||615||260||770||1030||447||211||2323|
|New Mexico St.||33||885||1893||244||725||591||830||426||886||1312||454||160||2605|
|South Dakota St.||34||863||1880||313||863||598||771||307||884||1191||439||177||2637|
|East Tennessee St.||34||793||1908||267||751||505||702||329||756||1085||533||230||2358|
|Florida Gulf Coast||33||800||1899||230||744||440||643||341||698||1039||425||200||2270|
|Mount St. Mary’s||34||863||1925||183||532||423||641||407||873||1280||507||215||2332|
|New Mexico St.||33||792||1911||184||632||451||667||361||724||1085||454||174||2219|
|South Dakota St.||34||938||2077||361||960||394||539||342||803||1145||391||230||2631|
|Team||PPG||Def PPG||Marg.||FG%-Marg||Reb-Marg.||TO Marg.||R+T||W-L Road||SOS||Off Poss||Def Poss||Poss/G||Seed|
|East Tennessee St.||79.9||69.4||10.6||7.5||4.5||0.9||13.3||14-5||49.32||2461||2445||72.2||13|
|Florida Gulf Coast||79.4||68.8||10.6||8.1||6.2||0.4||15.8||10-4||47.19||2294||2288||69.4||14|
|Mount St. Mary’s||68.3||68.6||-0.3||-0.5||-7.4||1.8||-10.2||8-11||48.10||2352||2329||68.8||16|
|New Mexico St.||78.9||67.2||11.7||5.3||6.9||0.0||16.9||11-4||47.15||2315||2321||70.2||14|
|South Dakota St.||77.6||77.4||0.2||0.7||1.4||-1.4||3.1||7-14||50.02||2378||2382||70.0||16|
|East Tennessee St.||55.8||48.6||31.3||26.9||17.9||19.2||24.0||20.7||6||5|
|Florida Gulf Coast||55.7||48.2||34.6||28.1||15.4||16.2||19.7||19.2||7||7|
|Mount St. Mary’s||50.9||49.6||22.9||34.6||17.1||18.5||17.6||18.2||8||4|
|New Mexico St.||53.2||46.3||37.0||28.9||16.6||16.9||25.5||19.4||20||5|
|South Dakota St.||54.2||53.9||27.7||27.9||16.3||14.4||25.1||16.5||6||3|
Check back later Tuesday for our Round by Round Bracket Selections, as well as our Red-White-Blue Ratings for the First Four games in Dayton.