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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Wichita State Shockers

Next up is a bunch of cornheads from the flattest, most-boring state you will ever experience. Yeah, even worse than Nebraska.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

RPI information courtesy of ESPN.com.
All other statistics are courtesy of KenPom.com, Ken Pomeroy’s outstanding basketball analytics site.

So, how’d last game go?

Not real well, actually. Tennessee Tech came out focused and aggressive, using their inside size to disrupt the Tide’s offensive flow and made what should have been a mismatch into an ugly slugfest. The Golden Eagles had a 13 point lead a little over halfway through the first, which the Tide overcame to head into the locker room up 37-36. Junior sparkplug Ricky Tarrant was lost along the way to cramps, resulting in more minutes for Belgian guard Retin Obasohan.

The Tide got back to Anthony Grant BasketballTM in the second half, cranking up the defense and shutting down Tennessee Tech to pull out a 65-53 victory at Coleman, just the second game this season the Tide failed to score 80. The mercurial1 Rodney Cooper lead all scorers with 23; Levi Randolph was the only other Alabama player in double figures with 10. For a more in-depth, qualitative review of the game, check out Roger_RBR’s outstanding game recap.

1 | His scoring output this year: 15, 5, 2, 27, 5, 2, 10, 23. We call that "boom or bust."

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA TENN TECH
eFG% 51.3% 39.4%
TO% 15.9% 22.6%
OR% 30.8% 43.6%
FTR 89.7% 38.5%
Win Index 51 41

The Tide outshot the Golden Eagles and did a better job taking care of the ball, but were completely outclassed on the boards with Tennessee Tech holding a near 13% advantage in OR%. This was definitely balanced out by the Tide’s absurd 89.7% FTR, produced by taking 35 shots from the stripe against just 39 attempts from the field. The over 50% advantage in this metric was probably the difference in the game, as Cooper and Randolph produced half of their points for the night from the line. Roll it all together and you have a 51-41 margin in Win Index in favor of the Tide.

Wait, aren’t you supposed to be previewing something, nerd?

Right! Next up: The Alabama Crimson Tide will travel north to take on the Wichita State Shockers in what is easily the most exciting, happenin’ state in the country — Kansas2! The game tips off December 16th at 9 PM EST / 8 PM CST and will be for-real televised on ESPN2.

2 | Wichita does boast nearly 400,000 folks inside the city limits, and is still home to some aerospace manufacturing. Still flat as a pancake though.

The Goods

Overall Quality
ALABAMA WICHITA ST. The Edge
RPI 0.6409 (19) RPI 0.6731 (9) WICHITA ST.
PYTH 0.7494 (66) PYTH 0.9222 (10) WICHITA ST.
Luck 0.043 (117) Luck -0.065 (277) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
ALABAMA WICHITA ST. The Edge
OE+ 106.7 (48) DE+ 91.2 (27) WICHITA ST.
DE+ 97 (103) OE+ 113 (7) WICHITA ST.
T+ 68.3 (78) T+ 64.5 (258) ALABAMA

Schedule Ratings
ALABAMA WICHITA ST. The Edge
Sched. PYTH 0.5132 (178) Sched. PYTH 0.6563 (36) WICHITA ST.
Opp. OE+ 102.4 (58) Opp. OE+ 102 (68) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 102 (312) Opp. DE+ 96.4 (26) WICHITA ST.
NCS PYTH 0.5132 (185) NCS PYTH 0.6563 (39) WICHITA ST.

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 14 December 2014.

Wondering what all these terms are?

  • RPI: The Ratings Percentage Index, a measure of team strength based on winning percentage, the winning percentage of a team’s opponents, and the winning percentage of those opponents’ opponents. For a more detailed excoriation discussion of RPI, check out this section of the PTN Basketball Primer.
  • PYTH: The Pythagorean Rating, a measure of a team’s expected winning percentage against an average D-I team, which is based on the concept of Pythagorean Expectation. For a more detailed discussion of PYTH ratings, check out this section of the PTN Basketball Primer.
  • Luck: A measure of how a team’s actual performance has outstripped that of its expected performance based on PYTH rating.

Adjusted Efficiencies: For more about adjust efficiency numbers, check out check out this section of the PTN Basketball Primer.

  • OE+: Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, a measure of a team’s offensive performance on a possession-by-possession basis, adjusted to provide the expected performance against an average D-I team. Expressed in points scored per 100 possessions.
  • DE+: Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, a measure of a team’s defensive performance on a possession-by-possession basis, adjusted to provide the expected performance against an average D-I team. Expressed in points allowed per 100 possessions.
  • T+: Adjusted Tempo, a measure of a team’s expected pace against a team that wants to play at an average D-I pace. Expressed as possessions per game.
  • Sched. PYTH: The Schedule PYTH Rating, a PYTH rating based on the adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies of a team’s opponents, used as a strength-of-schedule rating.
  • NCS PYTH: The Non-Conference Schedule PYTH Rating, simply the schedule PYTH calculated for non-conference opponents only.
  • Opp. OE+: Opponents’ Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, the average adjusted offensive efficiency of a team’s opponents.
  • Opp. DE+: Opponents’ Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, the average adjusted defensive efficiency of a team’s opponents

Four Factors — See what these are all about in this section of the primer.

  • eFG%: The Effective Field Goal Percentage, the shooting metric for the Four Factors.
  • TO%: The Turnover Rate, the ball security metric for the Four Factors.
  • OR%: The Offensive Rebounding Rate, the offensive rebounding metric for the Four Factors.
  • FTR: The Free Throw Rate, the drawing fouls metric for the Four Factors.

Wondering what all of this means? Check out the PTN Basketball primer!

The Disclaimer

For the first several weeks of the season, these metrics are based partially on preseason projection factors, namely recent program performance, the effects of roster attrition, the impact of Top 100 recruits, and sweet, sweet voodoo3.

As the season progresses, data from games played will be factored in, with a progressively lighter emphasis on the preseason ratings. Starting around the middle of January (usually the start of conference play), preseason ratings will be removed and the metrics will be based purely on this season’s games.

3 | This last one's not true.

So, what do we know?

Wichita State is among the country’s elite programs right now, in the midst of a three-year streak of reaching the Tournament and a trip to last year’s Final Four. Much like previous opponent Iowa State, the Shockers are well-regarded by most ranking systems, holding down the #9 spot in RPI and the #10 spot in PYTH rating. RPI’s still feeling the Tide, but the Shockers have a 56 spot advantage in PYTH rating. That being said, the effect of those multiple Tournament trips is important to consider here — the Shockers are 7-1, but have largely underperformed the expectations generated by that success and currently rate out 277th in Luck rating. In contrast, the Tide are greatly improved from a year ago, and hold the edge in that regard.

Correction: The Shockers made the Final Four two seasons ago, not last year. Whoops.

Aaand now we crash back down to earth, because although the Shockers aren’t the team they were last year, they’re still really damn good, boasting the #7 offense and #27 defense according to KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings — both significant advantages over the Tide’s marks. Alabama does like to play at a significantly faster tempo than the Shockers, so look for them to at least set the pace in this one.

If all of that wasn’t discouraging enough, the Shockers have played the toughest schedule of any Tide opponent to date, notably RPI darlings Utah4 and Seton Hall. The two squads have seen a remarkably similar offensive slate, but Alabama’s benefitted from playing one of the worst defensive slates in the country, whereas the Shockers have put up that crazy-high offensive efficiency on the #26 defensive schedule in all the land. There’s a whole lot of yellow up in that chart, and that’s not a great sign for the Tide.

4 | Who insist on referring to themselves as "the U," which as well all know is Miami’s territory. Must be the lack of oxygen.

If all of THAT wasn’t discouraging enough, as noted this one is in Wichita, and that’s not going to help the Tide’s already-slim chances. The magic box has this one at 88.8% for the Shockers, which is nerd for "near-certain victory."

THE PICK: Wichita State Shockers, and hopefully the Tide make a good show of it.

ROLL TIDE