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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Texas A&M Aggies

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Out-of-conference play is finished until the postseason, and the Tide open up the SEC slate against the Aggies

Kevin Jairaj-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?

In contrast to the previous game against UCLA, the Tide started out a bit flat, allowing a clearly overmatched North Florida squad to build an 8 point lead early on. Michael Kessens took his turn as the bellcow in this one, notching 16 points and 7 boards before halftime as Alabama went into the locker room with a 45-37 lead. After the break, the lead swelled to 20 points as Coach Grant rotated in several bench players, getting all but Jeff Garrett involved in the action at one point or another. Levi Randolph did Levi Randolph things in contributing 13 points, and Ricky Tarrant produced six assists to go along with his seven points. Kessens ended up with 18 points and 12 boards, good for his second double-double in the last three games. The final margin was 76-61, pushing the Tide’s out-of-conference record to a solid 10-3, which is a great place for the good guys to be as the schedule shifts toward conference play.

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

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA NORTH FLORIDA
eFG% 59.4% 47.0%
TO% 21.7% 23.1%
OR% 39.3% 27.3%
FTR 34.0% 38.0%
Win Index 47 41

’Bama finally got the better of an opponent on the offensive glass, winning the OR% battle by a healthy 12% margin. The Ospreys managed to make it to the line once more than the Tide did in 3 less field goal attempts, thus capturing the FTR factor for the game. Unfortunately for North Florida, the Tide had a robust edge in eFG% and a slight edge in TO%, continuing a season-long trend of tipping their opponent in the ball security factor. Added all together and Alabama notched a decent 6 point edge in Win Index.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide open up the SEC slate against the Texas A&M Aggies at Coleman Coliseum. The game is on Tuesday, January 6th, at 8 PM CST / 9 PM EST, and will be televised on the SEC Network. Per usual, it will also be available on WatchESPN.com, if you prefer your basketball with choppy framerates and the possibility of outages[1] due to an unanticipated fervor for Crimson Tide athletics.

1 | Seriously, did they not think everyone would be tuning in for FSU’s comeuppance?

The Goods

Overall Quality
ALABAMA TEXAS A&M The Edge
RPI 0.5871 (49) RPI 0.5799 (55) ALABAMA
BPI 71.8 (64) BPI 76.2 (51) TEXAS A&M
PYTH 0.7331 (72) PYTH 0.7544 (58) TEXAS A&M
Luck 0.03 (130) Luck 0.01 (165) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
ALABAMA TEXAS A&M The Edge
OE+ 104 (94) DE+ 94 (55) TEXAS A&M
DE+ 95.3 (73) OE+ 103.6 (100) ALABAMA
T+ 65.7 (183) T+ 65.6 (187) PUSH

Schedule Ratings
ALABAMA TEXAS A&M The Edge
Sched. PYTH 0.4928 (198) Sched. PYTH 0.4901 (205) PUSH
Opp. OE+ 102.3 (60) Opp. OE+ 100.3 (183) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 102.6 (326) Opp. DE+ 100.7 (219) TEXAS A&M
NCS PYTH 0.4928 (204) NCS PYTH 0.4901 (207) PUSH

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 5 January 2015.

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 voodoo[2].

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.

2 | This last one's not true.

So, what do we know?

Strangely enough, the Tide dropped quite a bit in RPI after beating North Florida, falling 14 spots to #49. I suspect this has to do with four of the Tide’s five marquee opponents[3] from this season losing since the last time we looked at this, notably Iowa State’s tight home loss to a sneaky-good South Carolina squad. They have a slight edge over Texas A&M in this regard, although BPI and PYTH both favor the Aggies. Both teams have marginally outperformed expectations this season, with the Tide having a very slight edge there.

3 | Iowa State, Arizona State, Xavier, and UCLA, who’s now lost five in a row.

The main driver behind Texas A&M’s success is a stout defensive side that rates out in the upper half of SEC teams and the top sixth of Division I. They’ve paired that with an above-average offense that doesn’t quite have the chops to exploit the Tide’s decent defense, such that Alabama has the advantage when A&M has the ball and vice versa. These two teams play at near identical paces, so there’s not much to glean from the tempo rating.

Both squads have played nearly identical out-of-conference schedules, with the only real separation coming in how they got there. By virtue of games against hyperefficient offensive juggernauts like Iowa State and Wichita State, the Tide’s played a significantly more potent offensive slate. Correspondingly, Texas A&M’s faced better defensive teams, as the Tide are essentially the bottom of the Division I barrel in that regard. That won’t last, as the SEC features 9 of the top 100 defenses in DE+.

This appears to be a tight matchup, with Texas A&M having a slight edge if this were happening on a neutral court. The Tide’s played a bit above their heads so far this season, but so have the Aggies — not much to take away there either. The determining factor may be the home court advantage, which pushes the Tide’s win expectancy to 63% according to the magic box. The Tide’s undefeated at home so far this season, and now that football is a vague, distant memory and the students have returned to campus, I’m thinking we’ll see even better crowds moving forward. I expect something similar to the UCLA game, but this time I think I’ll pick in favor of the good guys. Tune in, it should be a good one!

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide , in a squeaker.

ROLL TIDE