Efficiency Snapshots

Recently I posted some game-by-game adjusted efficiency ratings for Kansas, derived from Ken Pomeroy's Game Plan and season efficiency ratings. The Hawks' numbers looked good, but Jeremy asked for some context on how the numbers were changing as the season progressed, and how this compared to other top teams. So I ran the game-by-game numbers for Pomeroy's top 11 teams. (Why top 11? I'll explain Michigan State's case later on.) Just showing you a mess o' single game numbers doesn't do a whole lot of good - there's a lot of game to game variation. To smooth that noise out and get a better idea of a team's general trend, we can look at a moving 10-game snapshot. Graphs after the jump...

About the graphs: Each team's line starts with its 10th game and continues through its most recent (as of Wednesday afternoon, so OSU's stinker vs. Penn St is NOT included). Each point is the average of the 10 previous games. The X-axis is "games ago." I tried to get the line colors to mostly correspond to school colors, but there are sooooo many schools that use blue or red. Anyway, here you go...

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I really like the look of this one. You can see that for the first half of the season, KU's offense wasn't at the level of the other elite teams, but over the last month it's steadily risen.

Georgetown's curve looks similar, only they start higher and finish in uber-elite territory. Interestingly, every single team on here has improved over the course of the season. I'm wondering if that's all selection bias (we're looking at the best teams as of NOW, so obviously the recent ratings will be high), or if it's also partly due to the fact that offense is just more difficult to perfect than defense. So defenses start the year already performing at a high level, and the offenses catch up over the next few months.

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[EDIT: Please note that in this graph, DOWN IS GOOD!]

This looks suspiciously like a jumbled mess. Picking out KU's line, you can see they've bounced around between 80 and 85 the whole year, always maintaining their spot as one of the top teams. For a while North Carolina seemed to be quite a bit better than everyone else, but they've fallen back to only "great." (I'm betting the same thing happens with Georgetown's offense over the next few weeks. [EDIT: I originally made a typo and said GTown's defense. This caused some confusion over on Hoya Talk. My bad.]) You can see that this graph doesn't show the consistent improvement that the offenses do.

[WARNING: If you couldn't care less about Michigan State, skip this paragraph.] I think MSU's path is the most interesting one here, and is the reason they're going to be really surprising some people over the next month. Their defense went from elite, to just better than average, back to elite. I took a look a closer look to see if there were injuries that could explain this, and it turns out they were missing freshman Raymar Morgan for most of that swoon. Judging from his scouting report, that didn't seem like such a huge loss. He's a subpar offensive player, and most of his playing time was taken up by another 6 1/2 foot freshman, Isaiah Dahlman. Problem is, Dahlman's only an inch shorter but 40 pounds lighter. He doesn't rebound, block shots, or steal the ball as well as Morgan, and I'm guessing he's easier to score on. Dahmlan played at least 18 minutes in 8 games this season, mostly while Morgan was out. In those 8 games, Michigan State's adjusted defensive rating was 93.5. In all other games, it's 83.4. I wish I would have noticed this 2 days ago, so I could feel smart for predicting a MSU victory over Wisconsin.

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Since around the first week of January, North Carolina has, from an efficiency standpoint, looked like the team to beat. Wisconsin approached their level for a while, as did Texas A&M, Ohio St, and Florida, but nobody else had managed to crack the 0.99 barrier, while UNC had been staying comfortably above it. Well, congrats to Kansas on joining them up there. This is a nice looking graph for Kansas, showing that they seem to be putting it all together. Only problem is, most of this nice rating has come from beating up on lesser opponents. Not bad opponents, necessarily, but lesser. They let up and gave Acie Law IV the win in Lawrence in their one chance to prove they could play elite ball against an elite opponent. Still, the stats are what they are, and they make Kansas look good.

OK, I've got nothing more to add right this moment. I'll probably be doing some kind of individual team graphs for KU game previews in the future. If anybody has any ideas on ways to slice these numbers, or different graphical displays that you think might be interesting or useful, feel free to mention them.

RPI Watch

Ken Pomeroy's latest RPI projection has KU at 38th, which is important since we've now passed that mythical 40th parallel. We're up to 9th overall in his season-long ratings and nestled comfortably at 5th in his last 5 games rating (oddly enough, UNC is number 1 in that rating - good job Roy). By the way, KP's now predicting 13-3 in conference, with a lone loss at UT.

Dunkel has us at 4th in the country in his latest index, behind Duke, UT and UConn (before last night's game).

We're up to 19th overall and 6th in the pure points rating over at Jeff Sagarin's place (the pure points is more important to Vegas).

Dolphin hasn't updated yet, but I'll try to remember to update that later.

You might be interested to know that the composite of bracket projections has us at a #6 seed. Most of the latter day brackets have us as a #5, but some of the less frequently updated brackets have us as an #8 or #9, so we're averaged up a little. I think if we win out while losing impressively at UT, we have a very good shot at a #4. If we beat UT, I think a #2 is still *possible, but very very unlikely. A 4-6 is most likely at this point. I would almost prefer a #6 at this point to avoid a possible run-in with UConn, Duke or Villanova.


Yet Another College Basketball Rankings Update

Regular Phog Blog readers know that I try to follow the power ratings pretty closely, as they can often reveal things about teams that a straight up win-loss record does not. Here's how we stack in the various predictive ratings around the country. Pomeroy still has us at 14th, although we've moved up to 4th in his Last 5 games rating. In his efficiency and pythagorean ratings, we're 4th in the country, behind Texas, Duke and UConn, respectively. That's mighty nice company.

Dolphin still has us at 5th in the nation, behind the above three and Villanova.

Jeff Sagarin has us as 7th in his Pure Points rating, the predictions of which are always eerily similar to Vegas lines.

And finally, the Dunkel index, which last week had us at 6th best team in the country, now has us as the 4th best team in the country (doesn't include Nebraska win).

Last year, we had the best RPI in the nation, and yet we lagged in these predictive ratings. We all know what happened last year. This year, though our RPI has improved to 45 after last night's win, we're excelling at the ratings that the casinos use to predict games.

My bet? Go with the casinos.