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 Kenpom.com'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
|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
|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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