KU Now The Favorite

According to Ken Pomeroy and Mr. Picklesimer (anybody else read "Picklemiester" every time?).  UNC is still slightly favored in a head-to-head matchup, but Kansas has an easier path.  Of course, I suspect this doesn't include UCLA's home state advantage should they meet the Jayhawks in the Elite 8.  I might be rooting for Pittsburgh next round.

Pomeroy Big 12 Tournament Percentages

  2nd Round Semis    Finals    Champs  
Kansas 100.0% 86.1% 77.8% 50.5%
Texas A&M 100.0% 89.6% 68.1% 35.3%
Texas 100.0% 75.7% 24.8% 8.0%
Oklahoma 87.4% 13.5% 8.6% 2.4%
Kansas St. 100.0% 58.8% 8.5% 1.7%
Texas Tech 89.7% 40.3% 5.0% 0.9%
Missouri 74.6% 21.3% 3.8% 0.7%
Oklahoma St. 69.5% 8.6% 2.8% 0.5%
Iowa St 12.6% 0.3% 0.1% 0.0%
Colorado 10.3% 0.9% 0.0% 0.0%
Nebraska 30.5% 1.8% 0.3% 0.0%
Baylor 25.4% 3.0% 0.2% 0.0%

 

These were done, as always, with data from www.kenpom.com.  Each column is the team's chance of advancing to that round.  They take into account the fact that these games are being played at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City- all Ok. St.'s games are considered "semi-home".

A couple specifics of interest- Kansas beats Texas A&M 57.5% of the time, and beats Texas 77.9% of the time.  They beat Colorado 98.9% of the time by an average of 29.2 points (although that may or may not be of interest).

Efficiency Preview: Texas at Kansas

Click here for the preview that actually gives you some ideas about how this game's going to be played. Read on for the one with pretty graphs and hand waving. Format is the same as last time, so you can skip the next paragraph unless you need a refresher. (And for reference, here is the original post that kind of explains what I'm doing). After the break, for both teams I've included a graph that charts the offensive and defensive ratings for each game of the season. Keep in mind that for the defensive rating, lower is better. For both offense and defense, I've included a trendline showing roughly how each unit has progressed over the year. The dotted line shows the national average efficiency. I've also included the average ratings for their last ten games, to give a snapshot of how the team is playing right now. To give these numbers some context, I show where this would rank in the full-season stats, and what team's full-season rating is the closest.

Texas

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LAST 10 RATING EQUIV RNK EQUIV TEAM
Offense 126.4 1 Georgetown
Defense 95.0 69 Fordham
Pythag .9640 13 Michigan St

I was going to lead off with a comment about how great the Texas offense played against Texas A&M, and that it was the best any offense had done against the Aggies since _______. But _______ turns out to be Baylor, just 4 days earlier, so apparently the A&M D wasn't quite at top form heading into the game. Still, look at that graph. 7 of the past 9 games Texas has had a rating over 125 (better than the year-long efficiency of the #1-rated Hoyas). And they've put some great numbers up against very good defenses. They've played 8 games against Pomeroy's top 30 defenses, and reached 1.09 PPP in 5 of them:

Opponent Adj Def Eff* Texas Game Diff
Michigan St. 85.8 95.5 9.7
Louisiana St. 90.1 98.7 8.6
Arkansas 90.5 120.4 29.9
Oklahoma 88.1 124.9 36.8
Villanova 87.4 95.4 8
Texas A&M 84.0 109.2 25.2
Oklahoma 85.3 112.5 27.2
Texas A&M 86.8 118.5 31.7
AVERAGE 87.7 109.4 22.1
Kansas 79.0 ??? ???

*adjusted for site of game

OK, so you already knew Texas had a good offense. But did you know their defense has been playing a little better recently? Now, "better" is relative - it's not like they've all of a sudden turned into last year's team. But prior to Wednesday, they'd held 5 straight opponents to an eFG% under 50, and forced 5 straight to turn the ball over at an 18% rate (their first and second such streaks this season, respectively). I expect the second streak to continue. Whether the first does will probably determine whether this is a close game or an easy win for Kansas.

Kansas

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LAST 10 RATING EQUIV RNK EQUIV TEAM
Offense 125.3 1 Georgetown
Defense 80.6 2 Kansas
Pythag .9938 1 N Carolina

Scraping out a narrow victory in Norman on senior night against a strong defensive OU team hasn't altered the graph much. The offense is still trending upwards, though not as strongly as before, and the defense is still trending down at the same rate. Take KU's worst offensive game in their last 11, pair it with their worst defensive game in the last 6, and they still should be expected to beat Texas, though it would be close.

One slightly worrisome fact for KU fans is that the team's offensive performance is significantly correlated to their defensive performance, specifically opponent eFG% and OR% (see the bottom of this page). No other KU opponent this year has ranked as high in both eFG% and OR% as Texas. So not only might the Texas offense be a tough test for the Kansas defense, it might also be a tough test for the Kansas offense.

Just a note - the comparison of the offense to Georgetown (for both these teams) is a bit misleading. Sure, they're playing at a level equivalent to GTown's season stats, but the Hoyas are playing even better than that recently. I'd like to get a database up and running that can automatically calculate last-10 ratings for all the teams. But I'd like a free burrito about now, too.

Predictions

As Jacob pointed out, this is a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the country. If both teams are at the top of their game, there will be 3 elite units on the floor - the exception being the Texas defense. But if Texas can shoot and rebound well, the lack of transition opportunities will keep the Kansas offense from performing at it's best, and Texas will be able to stay in the game. I'm gonna say this ends up being Texas's "A" game vs. KU's "A-" game. That should be enough for the Hawks to pull out a single digit home win.

  • My subjective pick ... +7 ... KU 81 UT 74
  • Vegas ... +9.5 ... KU 79 UT 69

Efficiency based:

  • Pomeroy... +13 ... KU 79 UT 67
  • Last 10 ... +16 ... KU 86 UT 70
  • Trendlines ... +12 ... KU 81 UT 69
  • Streaks ... +14 ... KU 81 UT 67

Power ratings:

Efficiency Preview: Kansas at Oklahoma

Welcome visitors from Sports Illustrated. If you like what you see, please add Phog Blog to your favorites and tell your friends. I posted an efficiency laden preview of the Ohio St vs. Wisconsin game over at yocohoops. I'm going to do the same thing here for the KU-OU game, but with less explanation of the numbers, since you PB readers have had a couple posts to get used to them. For reference, here is the original post that explains what I'm doing. There's not going to be a lot of analysis, just numbers and graphs. Sorry about that, but I feel Hoopinion and Chalmersfan do a much better job of that than I do.

After the break, for both teams I've included a graph that charts the offensive and defensive ratings for each game of the season. Keep in mind that for the defensive rating, lower is better. For both offense and defense, I've included a trendline showing roughly how each unit has progressed over the year. Also, the dotted line shows the national average efficiency.

I've also included the average ratings for their last ten games, to give a snapshot of how the team is playing right now. To give these numbers some context, I show where this would rank in the full-season stats, and what team's full-season rating is the closest.

Kansas

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LAST 10 RATING EQUIV RNK EQUIV TEAM
Offense 126.2 1 Georgetown
Defense 79.1 1 Kansas
Pythag .9952 1 nobody really

Obviously this graph looks really nice. Offense is trending upwards, and 4 of the best 5 games have come in the last 6 games. Defense is trending downwards, and 2 of the best 4 have come in the last 4. Really not much to say here that you wouldn't have figured out from using your eyes or traditional stats. The team has playing at a very high level against inferior competition.

Oklahoma

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LAST 10 RATING EQUIV RNK EQUIV TEAM
Offense 111.4 61 Marquette
Defense 92.6 49 Missouri
Pythag .8941 52 Kansas St.

Oklahoma's offense has improved over the season, but leveled off recently. Their bad games are around average, and their good games are 25% above average, instead of their bad games being 10% below average and their good games being 15% above average. Still some inconsistency. But the improvement in their offense is canceled out by their decline in defense. They haven't had a very good defensive game in their last seven. Their last 10 games, they've played like a top 50 team, but not won like a top 50 team, which has been the story all year. According to Pomeroy, they're the unluckiest team in the country. Still, they should at least be better competition than Iowa State.

Predictions

Efficiency based:

  • Pomeroy... +6 ... KU 65 OU 59
  • Last 10 ... +18 ... KU 77 OU 59
  • Trendlines ... +24 ... KU 80 OU 56
  • Streaks ... +18 ... KU 76 OU 58

Power ratings:

Other:

  • Vegas ... +7 ... KU 68 OU 61
  • My subjective pick ... +12 ... KU 70 OU 58

The efficiency data seems to suggest this won't be as close as all the power ratings and Vegas suggest, but I haven't been tracking these predictions for long, so who knows how accurate it will be. I'm going with a balance between the efficiency and power ratings, and saying it's a 12-point KU win.

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...

MyIMGHost - Free Image Hosting

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.

MyIMGHost - Free Image Hosting

[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.

MyIMGHost - Free Image Hosting

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.

Recently

It has seemed to me like Kansas has gotten their act together a little since the Texas Tech loss. They've stopped letting inferior teams hang around, they've pushed the tempo, and their offense seems to have benefited. I wanted to see what the stats said about this, so I played with Pomeroy's. His Game Plan pages list raw game-by-game efficiency stats on offense and defense. These tell you only half of the story, though. You can see a team's output, but you need the context of that output. 1.1 points per possession against Texas A&M is excellent. Against Baylor, eh. To get that context, you need the opponent's seasonal adjusted efficiency stats. Taking those two pieces of the puzzle, I worked backwards from the formulas and parameters Pomeroy lists on his site to obtain adjusted game-by-game efficiency stats.

So, was my perception correct? Has KU's offense been on an uptick? Here are the game-by-game adjusted efficiency numbers since the Texas Tech loss. "Equiv Rnk" indicates what their Pomeroy Rating rank would be if they played like that every game... OR what rank team they could be expected to beat on a neutral court if they performed at that level.

Opponent A/H Off Eff Def Eff Pyth Equiv Rnk
Baylor A 113.4 69.0 .9967 1
Colorado H 113.5 94.5 .8916 53
Nebraska A 125.3 75.4 .9971 1
Texas A&M H 120.7 92.7 .9543 17
Kansas St. H 145.4 92.1 .9948 1
Missouri A 132.5 83.7 .9949 1
Average - 125.1 84.6 .9891 2
Full Season - 116.0 82.6 .9803 6

The offense has indeed taken a step forward. A full season Adj Off Eff of 125.1 would rank 2nd in the country (behind Georgetown). The defense has slipped a little - 84.6 would only rank 6th. One caveat, though - the one game where they needed to play like a top-5 team (vs. Texas A&M), they didn't.

One other caveat - I cherry-picked this data to show only their recent warm streak. How do the Hawks stack up if I do the same for the other top teams? For each team, I used their most recent 5 to 10 games, whatever gave them the best results. I looked at the top 10 and a few other teams I suspected might be able to crack the top, so there's a chance I missed some team on a ridiculous tear. But I think these are the 10 hottest teams. ".99+" is the number of .99+ games in the past 10.

Team Off Eff Def Eff Pyth .99+
North Carolina 123.5 77.2 .9956 7
Pittsburgh 120.8 80.8 .9903 4
Georgetown 143.2 96.7 .9892 4
Kansas 125.1 84.6 .9891 5
Florida 131.7 89.4 .9886 4
Ohio St. 128.6 88.1 .9873 3
Texas A&M 124.2 86.5 .9847 2
UCLA 120.6 85.3 .9817 2
Memphis 121.6 86.1 .9815 4
Wisconsin 122.4 87.9 .9784 1

Three things jump out at me:

  • Georgetown's offense is unstoppable.
  • If not for the letdown against NC St, I'd be calling UNC's defense unbreakable.
  • It's UNC and everyone else.

I'm sure I'll mess around with this sort of thing more as we get closer to the tournament. For now it's nice to see that KU can get as hot as any almost team in the country.

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