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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Alabama Poly Warplainseagletigers

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The Tide return to Coleman to welcome little brother back to T-town

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

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

So, how’d last game go?

Infuriatingly? The Tide fell behind early due to Michael Qualls’ quick 7 points in the first five minutes of the game. After that, Rodney Cooper took over, and his 15 first half points kept the Tide in lockstep with the Razorbacks, who took a 34-30 lead into the locker room at the half.

After the break, it was Ricky Tarrant and Justin Coleman’s turn, as the two guards were responsible for a majority of the Tide’s 48 points in the second stanza. Arkansas’ uptempo attack lead by Qualls stretched the Tide to their limit, but they would not let the game get away from them. Some cold shooting down the stretch from quiet Bobby Portis prevented the Razorbacks from getting too far ahead, and the Tide had a chance to tie the game up down three with 23 seconds left. A puzzling[1] decision by Shannon Hale to pass inside with about 4 seconds remaining worked out, as Michael Kessens was fouled on his successful layup attempt. The Swiss big man converted the freebie to send the game into overtime.

1 | I’m being really nice here.

Levi Randolph, who had been a total non-factor in the game, took over the offense in the extra period, scoring 6 of the Tide’s 13 points. Unfortunately some home cookin’ from the zebras and continued inspired play from the unstoppable Qualls kept Arkansas ahead, and the Tide once again found themselves down three with 12 seconds left. Hale actually made a three-pointer to tie it up, but failed to box out Portis on Arkansas’ desperation drive into the lane, and could only watch as the Razorbacks’ best player tipped the ball in for the win. Revolting.

For a more in-depth, qualitative review of the game, check out Roger_RBR's superb game recap.

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA ARKANSAS
eFG% 59.6% 45.1%
TO% 21.5% 12.7%
OR% 23.5% 44.7%
FTR 49.1% 57.7%
Win Index 46 48

All that hot three-point shooting from Cooper, Tarrant, and Coleman gave the Tide a significant edge in eFG%, the only factor they claimed in the game. Another aspect of this is that the Razorbacks had 71 attempts from the field, as at times they took two or even three attempts to get a basket. They were able to do that on the strength of 21 offensive rebounds, a continuance of a season-long issue for the Tide on the glass. This game was almost exactly like South Carolina — a tight loss on the road to a team that owned the glass, protected the ball, and had the refs on their side. You’ll note the Razorbacks also claimed FTR, and the Tide has lost 5 of the 6 games in which that’s occurred. The 2 point shortfall in Win Index mirrored the final margin on the scoreboard.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide welcome little brother into the inviting arms of Coleman Coliseum. The game is on Saturday, January 24th, at 7:30 PM CST / 8:30 PM EST, and will be televised on SEC Network and WatchESPN.com. Coach Saban and the football team will be in attendance to receive the Foy-ODK Trophy[2] for winning the Iron Bowl this year, as will several football recruits.

2 | Does anyone actually care about this thing?

The Goods

Overall Quality
ALABAMA ALABAMA POLY THE EDGE
RPI 0.5832 (53) RPI 0.5159 (139) ALABAMA
BPI 72.9 (56) BPI 56.3 (144) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.8328 (37) PYTH 0.5251 (153) ALABAMA
Luck -0.004 (194) Luck 0.075 (53) ALABAMA POLY

Efficiency Ratings
ALABAMA ALABAMA POLY THE EDGE
OE+ 108 (54) DE+ 98.5 (120) ALABAMA
DE+ 93.9 (50) OE+ 99.4 (208) ALABAMA
T+ 64.2 (237) T+ 69 (36) ALABAMA POLY

Schedule Ratings
ALABAMA ALABAMA POLY THE EDGE
Sched. PYTH 0.6375 (27) Sched. PYTH 0.5842 (75) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 104.6 (16) Opp. OE+ 101.4 (169) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 99.6 (77) Opp. DE+ 98.5 (38) ALABAMA POLY
NCS PYTH 0.4994 (188) NCS PYTH 0.553 (128) ALABAMA POLY

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 23 January 15.

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!

So, what do we know?

Pulling one out over Arkansas would have been a huge boost for RPI purposes, but the tight loss leaves the Tide squarely on the same spot of the bubble they’ve occupied for most of the year. In contrast from earlier in the season, it’s now the PYTH ratings that are overly enamored with ‘Bama, where the Tide sit at #37[3]. All of those ratings are well in excess of what the opponent brings to the table, which despite outperforming expectations is not having a great season.

3 | Arky’s at 41. Gotta love advanced stats. This is where Glen would say something about single games don’t matter, etc.

The good offensive performance against Arkansas boosted the Tide’s offensive efficiency rating a bit, despite the poor rating for the Razorbacks defense, and their ranking in that metric is slowly returning to the loftier heights of earlier in the season. The defense has continued its solid play, and in both cases they have a huge advantage over the opponent. Little brother does play at one of the country’s faster tempos, but the Tide just showed that they can keep pace with a high-octane team.

Hello, schedule strength! The Tide’s schedule PYTH rating is now 27th in the country after back-to-back games against Top-50 squads, plus some events among their non-conference foes that boosted the schedule ratings further[4]. The Tide have faced the 16th-toughest offensive slate in the country, and that’s the primary reason they are rated so highly on the defensive end of the court despite giving up so many points. Little brother has faced the better defenses and had a slightly tougher go of it outside of conference play.

4 | I tried to figure out what this was, but was unsuccessful. Probably a combination of small shifts among multiple opponents.

As noted this is back on the Tide’s home court, where their only loss of the season came to an NBA team. The magic box has this at 89.4% in favor of Alabama, which seems kind of low. The Coliseum should be packed to the rafters, the team will be looking to bounce back from a tough three-game skid, and I don’t see much chance for little brother in this one.

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide

ROLL TIDE