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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Southern Miss Golden Eagles

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After a buzzworthy performance in the Advocare Invitational, can the Tide keep rolling on the road?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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

So, how’d last game go?

Have you heard the good news? This whole Avery Johnson hire, and the Buckle Up movement? It’s totally working. PTN went on a brief hiatus from basketball coverage during the Thanksgiving holiday, so actually four games have occurred since the last time we were here. The Tide went 3-1 in those games, falling only to a Xavier squad that’s currently a top-15 team in KenPom’s PYTH ratings. In case you missed any of the recap articles, here they are:

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
eFG% 66.9% 54.9%
TO% 13.8% 19.0%
OR% 18.2% 38.1%
FTR 59.3% 65.6%
Win Index 51 50

We’ll just briefly run through all four of these. The Ragin’ Cajuns played a pretty tight game in the factors, putting a game score just a point behind the Tide’s, but Alabama’s vast edge in eFG% proved too much to handle. Shannon Hale’s five drained threes had a lot to do with that. The big edge in OR% is a bit of a concern, however.

The Four Factors
eFG% 35.5% 45.4%
TO% 26.1% 26.1%
OR% 19.5% 37.8%
FTR 18.2% 46.3%
Win Index 33 43

Xavier blew the Tide off the court, basically. Whenever a team trying to play an uptempo brand of basketball is held to 45 points you know the opposing defense was playing lights out. The FTR in particular is just way, way too low.

The Four Factors
eFG% 46.4% 39.3%
TO% 19.0% 16.7%
OR% 21.4% 44.2%
FTR 78.6% 29.5%
Win Index 46 42

TAKE THAT, GREGG. The Tide had a pretty good edge in eFG%, but that high of a FTR guarantees a lot of free points, even on a poor free throw shooting team. Once again the Tide got dominated on the boards, but they shot well enough and got enough opportunities from the line to where it didn’t matter.

The Four Factors
eFG% 59.6% 50.9%
TO% 19.0% 12.9%
OR% 33.3% 33.3%
FTR 17.5% 41.1%
Win Index 44 46

This was one of those screwy games where the team that won didn’t put up the higher Win Index. The Irish claimed two factors outright and matched the Tide in another, but once again a resounding edge in eFG% made the difference. This time it was Arthur Edwards joining Hale from beyond the arc; the two were a combined 6/10 from downtown.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide travel to nearby Hattiesburg to face the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. The game is on Friday, December 4th at 7:00 PM CST / 8:00 PM EST, and will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.3363 (341) RPI 0.5825 (71) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.1631 (330) PYTH 0.6776 (83) ALABAMA
Luck 0 (182) Luck 0.244 (5) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 92.3 (336) DE+ 97 (52) ALABAMA
DE+ 106.4 (286) OE+ 103.5 (134) ALABAMA
T+ 65.6 (340) T+ 70 (188) SOUTHERN MISS

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.5846 (97) Sched. PYTH 0.6842 (30) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 101.5 (224) Opp. OE+ 106.8 (22) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 98.5 (33) Opp. DE+ 99.8 (67) SOUTHERN MISS
NCS PYTH 0.5846 (99) NCS PYTH 0.6842 (32) ALABAMA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of December 3rd, 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.[1]

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?

The Luck rating for Alabama tells you all you need to know about how this team’s play is compared to how it was projected to be based on the Anthony Grant era. Very few people would have expected the Tide to beat any of their Invitational opponents, let alone two heavies in the Shockers and Irish. This is one of the most overachieving squads in KenPom’s database, and that bodes very, very well for the Tide as they roll through the rest of the non-conference slate into SEC play. Playing all those big-time programs has given them a solid 71st-place rating in CBS’ RPI calculation, and they’ve improved about 14 spots in the PYTH rating since we previewed the UL-Lafayette game. It’ll be interesting to see where the Tide ends up as the projections are taken out of the PYTH rating in a month or so; if they keep up their recent level of play, it could be quite the leap.

Southern Miss is exactly who KenPom thought they were,[2] and that’s not a great team. The Golden Eagles are in the bottom-25 of the PYTH ratings, and have yet to win a game this season. They played a solid Memphis team to open the season, but aside from that it’s all teams with PYTH rankings in excess of 200. Oh, and fellow Hattiesburg residents William Carey, an NAIA school that beat the Golden Eagles 84-78. Not a great game to have on the ol’ resume.

2 | And they won’t be left off the hook! Denny Green: The gift that keeps on giving.

Alabama has a resounding edge on both ends of the court, as Southern Miss has one of the very worst offenses in all of college basketball, and a defense not much better. The Tide’s defense has been pretty solid so far, about in line for where KenPom had projected it based on last year’s team, which is a good thing as defense was the only positive for that group. The offense is steadily climbing, however, which suggests that’s where the high Luck rating is coming from. The fact this team is going faster and getting more efficient on offense is fantastic news.[3] That’s exactly where last year’s team needed to improve, and the fact that progress is coming against the likes of Wichita State and Notre Dame is simply outstanding. They may not get as many possessions as usual as the Golden Eagles play at one of the slowest paces in college basketball, but I don’t think it’s going to matter too much in this one.


The overall schedule strength has skyrocketed over 160 spots since the last preview, with corresponding jumps in the offensive and defensive schedule strengths. I’m guessing these metrics do not account for NAIA schools, as you’d have a hard time figuring out any sort of rating to use for them, so a lot of their schedule strengths are stemming from Memphis. The Tigers are 29th overall in adjusted defensive efficiency, which explains why Southern Miss has a slight edge in that regard. Despite that, it’s very clear which one of these teams has been tested and passed, and it’s not the one in black and gold. The magic box says 85.7% for the Tide on the road, and frankly that seems a bit low.

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide