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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Xavier Musketeers

Alabama hits the road to take on a Big East team geographically located in the Midwest

Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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

So, how’d last game go?

Fresh off a confidence-building win against Arizona State on the road, the Tide dispatched an overmatched South Florida squad 82-71. The Tide led the whole way and were never seriously challenged by the Bulls, with the lead building to 17 with just over a minute left in the game. Scoring was balanced, as Rodney Cooper, Levi Randolph, Ricky Tarrant, and Justin Coleman all put up double figures — Michael Kessens was a mere point away from joining them.

For a more in-depth review of the game, check out Roger_RBR’s outstanding game recap.

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.6905 (4) RPI 0.5433 (109) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.7583 (63) PYTH 0.8004 (42) XAVIER
Luck 0.065 (95) Luck -0.144 (328) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 105.6 (54) DE+ 97.1 (110) ALABAMA
DE+ 95.6 (87) OE+ 109.5 (16) XAVIER
T+ 69.6 (55) T+ 68.8 (80) ALABAMA

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.4822 (214) Sched. PYTH 0.5287 (169) XAVIER
Opp. OE+ 100.6 (130) Opp. OE+ 100 (165) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 101.2 (281) Opp. DE+ 99.1 (171) XAVIER
NCS PYTH 0.4822 (214) NCS PYTH 0.5287 (169) XAVIER

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 4 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.
  • 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.

So, what do we know?

RPI still loves the Tide. As you may recall from the South Florida preview, there was some question as to the validity of the RPI numbers I put in the table. Well, the good folks at ESPN have the Tide at 4th again, and just to prove that, in fact, I CAN read, I offer this screenshot:

The Tide’s win over South Florida boosted their PYTH rating, but they are still several spots below Xavier. This is undoubtedly a result of preseason projections, as the Musketeers are fresh off consecutive tight losses in the Wooden Legacy tournament to traditional powers UTEP and Long Beach State2. Keep in mind that Xavier was a 5 seed in last year’s tournament and has been a strong program over the last several years, which will boost projections accordingly. The disparity between their ranking and performance is also evidenced by the luck rating — while the Tide have been slightly better than expected, only 23 teams in the country have underperformed more than Xavier.

2 | A team Xavier has managed to play twice already. Quirky.

As far as matchups are concerned, the Tide should not have any issues scoring on the Musketeers. Xavier’s adjusted defensive efficiency is pretty mediocre, and while the Tide do not have an elite offense it’s potent enough to make a difference. It is not, however, as potent as Xavier’s, who possess the 16th-best offense in the land according to adjusted offensive efficiency. The Tide’s defense is good but not great, and as a result I would expect this to be a bit of a shootout.

The Tide plays a bit faster and has an adjusted tempo rating 25 spots higher than Xavier’s, but we’re talking all of one possession per game. I gave the edge to ‘Bama, but it’s closer to a push than not. Xavier has played the tougher schedule thus far, due primarily to the more efficient defenses they’ve played. The Tide has faced the better offensive slate, but that’s really just Iowa State.

All of that being said, this one is at Xavier’s house in Ohio. That, in conjunction with the Musketeers’ high-powered offense, will end up being the difference. The magic box says Xavier has a 71% win probability, and even accounting for some potentially-erroneous preseason projections I think I’m inclined to agree.

THE PICK: Xavier Musketeers , but the Tide will make it closer than you think.