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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | UCLA Bruins

Big name, but this edition of the Bruins falls juuuuuuust a bit short of the Wooden era.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

BPI and 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?

Let’s go with "not as expected". After toying around with an overmatched Stillman squad a few days prior, the Tide came out completely flat, doinking shot after shot and turning the ball over left and right, allowing the Mountaineers to take a 29-27 lead into halftime. The Tide battled back in the second half, but some uncharacteristic free throw woes from Ricky Tarrant and Levi Randolph prevented the Tide from building a substantial lead. Appalachian State had the ball last down by one, but they airballed their shot attempt to allow the Tide to escape with a 60-59 win in a mismatch that wasn’t.

For a more in-depth, qualitative review of the game, check out btbama22’s excellent game recap.

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA APPALACHIAN STATE
eFG% 44.6% 45.8%
TO% 17.6% 20.5%
OR% 31.6% 32.4%
FTR 28.6% 8.3%
Win Index 41 38

The Mountaineers picked up two of the four factors, cleaning the glass at a better clip and outshooting the Tide. They also managed to turn the ball over 13 times to the Tide’s 11, ceding that factor to Alabama. The difference in the game came at the line, where the Tide took 16 shots from the stripe to Appalachian State’s 5. The six-point margin produced by those attempts was the difference in the game, along with Jimmie Taylor’s shot-altering exploits. The Win Index wasn’t as tight as it was against Wichita State, but the Tide’s slim margin undescores how close this one was.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide welcome their last big out-of-conference opponent to Coleman Coliseum in the UCLA Bruins. The game is on Sunday, December 28th at 5:30 PM CST / 6:30 PM EST, and will be televised on ESPN U.

The Goods

Overall Quality
ALABAMA UCLA The Edge
RPI 0.5963 (39) RPI 0.5366 (111) ALABAMA
BPI 70 (69) BPI 73.5 (62) UCLA
PYTH 0.7236 (73) PYTH 0.7735 (51) UCLA
Luck 0.017 (160) Luck 0.076 (69) UCLA

Efficiency Ratings
ALABAMA UCLA The Edge
OE+ 105.7 (63) DE+ 96.6 (87) ALABAMA
DE+ 97.2 (104) OE+ 107.4 (39) UCLA
T+ 66.1 (177) T+ 71 (17) UCLA

Schedule Ratings
ALABAMA UCLA The Edge
Sched. PYTH 0.523 (159) Sched. PYTH 0.5544 (113) UCLA
Opp. OE+ 102.4 (49) Opp. OE+ 100.8 (128) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 101.5 (286) Opp. DE+ 99 (112) UCLA
NCS PYTH 0.523 (165) NCS PYTH 0.5544 (122) UCLA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 24 December 14.

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.
  • BPI: The Basketball Power Index is an opponent-adjusted statistic created by ESPN that accounts for scoring margin, pace, game location, and absence of critical players. It can be used both predictively and as a measure of a team’s strength to that point in the season.
  • 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.
  • 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

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 voodoo1.

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.

1 | This last one's not true.

A NEW STAT

You’ll note there’s a new line in the first chart called "BPI". BPI stands for Basketball Power Index, which is a statistic created by ESPN for rating college basketball teams. The definition is as follows:

The Basketball Power Index (BPI) is a team rating system that accounts for the final score, pace of play, site, strength of opponent and absence of key players in every Division I men's game. BPI can be used to measure both how well a team has performed (going far beyond just wins and losses) and how powerful it is likely to be going forward.

The main thing this does that other rating systems do not is account for the absence of key players, which results in those games being deweighted slightly compared to those where a team was at full-strength. Other than that, most of the little bits about this system are not earth-shattering or anything, but you can read about it in more detail over at ESPN2.

2 | Where they were kind enough not to bore us with the "pretty technical" stuff that "many people won’t be interested in". Way to patronize, ESPN!

Now that we’ve discussed that, let’s move on to the next game. The debacle at Appalachian State hit the Tide pretty hard, dropping them to 39th in RPI and 73rd in PYTH. RPI favors ‘Bama over the Bruins, but the smarter ratings both have UCLA on top. UCLA’s also outperformed expectations this year to a greater degree than the Tide, as evidenced by their significantly higher Luck rating.

Alabama’s offense this year is a heck of a lot better than your typical Anthony Grant team3, and they have the slight edge on UCLA on that side of the court. Unfortunately, UCLA’s offense is even better, and this has not been your typical Anthony Grant defense. After spending the first part of the season in the top-100 teams by adjusted tempo, the last few games have dropped the Tide back toward the pack, whereas UCLA is the 17th fastest-playing team in the country. That’s a rather large disparity, and if the Bruins can force Alabama to play at a pace they aren’t comfortable with it could be a big advantage on the road. Add it all up and it points to UCLA scoring with ease.

3 | When not doinking shot after shot after shot after shot…

The Tide’s seen a handful of outstanding offensive teams on their non-conference schedule, and as a result have faced a significantly tougher offensive slate than the Bruins. The inverse is true for the defense, as the Tide really hasn’t faced an efficient defensive team outside of Wichita St. The net result is the Bruins have a better strength of schedule than the Tide, chiefly due to their shellacking at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Doesn’t look too good, does it? If this were on a neutral court, the magic box says the Bruins would have a 57% chance of winning. However, after adjusting for the home court advantage the magic box says the Tide have a 59% chance of winning. That seems like a pretty big swing to me, and I’m not sure I buy it. I’m thinking this is closer to a 50/50 proposition, and then only because the game’s at Coleman.

If the Tide come out flat like they did against Appalachian State, the superior talent of UCLA will blow them off the court. If they come out like they did against Wichita St. and actually finish the game, they might be able to put another feather in the cap for the consideration of the selection committee down the line. As much as I’d like to throw up a "too close to call," that’s not really what you’re here for, so I guess I’ll go with what my gut’s tellin’ me instead4.

4 | "Beer me," if we’re being honest.

THE PICK: UCLA Bruins , by a nose.

ROLL TIDE