Blog Entry

Final Four teams by the numbers

Posted on: March 30, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 10:40 am
Math in basketball?

Posted by Eric Angevine

There are so many ways to look at the four teams that emerged from the regional sites to make it to Houston this week. Some of us are emotionally involved with an alma mater that has won through. Some simply enjoy the spectacle of ANY four teams getting to the semifinals. Others (who may need to be investigated for paranormal cranial activity) still have a decent-looking bracket alive. Others simply want to know the line so they can wager appropriately.

In basketball, more and more, there are the stat-heads. Even those of us (like me) who view the game with the starry eyes of the hopelessly hoops-addicted are coming around to tempo-free statistics as a useful tool for evaluating and even predicting team play. Today, I thought we'd look at some of those numbers side-by-side for the four regional champions.

We'll be using's latest rankings, broken down into Adjusted Offense (AdjO), Adjusted Defense (AdjD), Effective Field Goal percentage (eFG) and a few interesting stats that might allow us to glean a slight edge one way or the other like point distribution as a percentage of total points scored (two pointers, three pointers and free throws), experience and effective height.  

Butler vs. VCU

Team Seed KP rank AdjO AdjD eFG 2Pdist 3Pdist FTdist Exp Height
Butler Bulldogs No. 8 38 112.7 95.5 50.9 47.0% 31.5% 21.4% 2.02 yrs  +0.4
VCU Rams No. 11 49 113.3 97.7 51.2 43.8% 35.4% 20.7% 2.17 yrs +0.4

On paper, this gives the Rams the offensive edge and the Bulldogs the defensive edge. The rams are shooting better while taking more of their shots from outside. The two-point distribution and the free throw distribution correlate pretty well for both teams. VCU has slightly more experience, but both teams start quality seniors, as we know from watching them. This is too close to call by the numbers, as it probably should be by this point in the season.

UConn vs. Kentucky

Team Seed KP rank AdjO AdjD eFG 2Pdist 3Pdist FTdist Exp Height
UConn Huskies No. 3 11 117.2 92.2 48.5 54.5% 24.4% 21.1% 0.95 yrs  +3.4
Kentucky Wildcats No. 4 4 119.1 91.0 52.7 50.8% 29.2% 19.9% 1.16 yrs +1.6

Lots of interesting numbers here. According to these numbers, UConn is the more efficient team on offense and defense. Despite Kemba Walker's famous step-back jumper, the Huskies rely on the inside game far more than do the Wildcats. Probably because they're so much bigger (there's the loss of Enes Kanter coming back to bite UK again). And as much as we hear about Kentucky's freshmen, UConn is far more youth-driven than the Wildcats in reality. On the even bigger stage of the Final Four, don't be surprised if heady play by UK's upperclassmen turns the tide. They've already beat the nation's most complete team, Ohio State, just to get here.

In truth, none of this tells us who will win. Even tempo-free stats didn't predict a VCU-Butler semifinal. All we can do is use these numbers to decipher some tendencies. As we watch the games on Saturday, we'll be more prepared to assess where each team's relative strengths and weaknesses lie, and that can only enhance our enjoyment of the real-life, real-time contests we'll be watching.

**Note: as a couple of readers noticed, I left VCU's numbers in a couple of spots when copying and pasting the code for the table. The numbers should now be correct.**

Photo: US Presswire

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Since: Apr 4, 2008
Posted on: March 31, 2011 9:41 pm

Final Four teams by the numbers

Forgive me, but I almost threw up my dinner after reading the opening paragraph on how Eric is using #'s on Adjusted Offense and Adjusted Defense to influence his thinking on this story.    I immediately quite reading!  

So, now, with four teams left, Eric is gonna match up these teams with the season #'s for each team.     
  Eric, it's not that simple, and you ought to find some other reason to write your articles.    This one is bogus.

I studied extensively, and spent hours and sleepless night to figure out the brackets.  I finally used kenpom's #'s on AO and AD  and all the other crap stats he uses to pick my bracket.    I compared each team on all the stats and chose to go with the team that had the higher #'s.   All I can say is forget it.   You wanna play that game you're gonna pay the price.    And pay the price I have.    I am in the 49% percentile for my picks.

So, get on out there and use good ol' #'s and you'll still come up a loser.

This college ball biz is such BS these days.   Parity, BCS conferences overrated, and just a general decline is stardom by individual players points me in the direction that next year I gonna skip the bracket BS altogether.


Since: Mar 24, 2008
Posted on: March 31, 2011 12:36 am

Final Four teams by the numbers

How do you get to post an article on CBSsports without having your stats correct? Is it that hard to copy over the numbers, then comment on the accurate figures?  Small time guy on a big time site.

Since: Mar 30, 2011
Posted on: March 30, 2011 9:44 pm

Final Four teams by the numbers

You know you used VCU's AdjO and AdjD numbers for Kentucky, right? The numbers straight off are better in both categories for Kentucky than UConn. Not by much, but a little.

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