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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Tide should get a bit of a breather after a rough loss at LSU

Spruce Derden-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?

The Tide came into the game without Ricky Tarrant and Retin Obasohan, and lost Michael Kessens partway through the contest. Add to that foul trouble and the unstoppable Jordan Mickey, and a win in this game was never truly attainable. The Tide trailed by 10 after the first half, but did manage to get within two points halfway through the second. Three errant three-point attempts and three made baskets from Mickey and Jarell Martin later (plus a layup from Keith Hornsby), and Alabama found themselves down 10 once again; they would never get back within eight points from there. Senior stalwart Levi Randolph led the way with 17 points and the surprising Shannon Hale added 13 more, but it wasn’t enough in a 71-60 thumping in Baton Rouge.

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

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
eFG% 39.3% 54.5%
TO% 15.4% 18.8%
OR% 33.3% 32.3%
FTR 31.1% 86.4%
Win Index 40 51

Unlike the Tide’s recent losses to teams not named Kentucky, this one was not particularly close. The 39.3% mark in eFG% was the Tide’s second-worst of the season, "beaten" only by the 37.3% against UCLA from the cold, distant past of 2014. The good guys managed a fine mark in TO% that well outstripped the 21.3% they’ve averaged in SEC play, and eked out a narrow victory in OR% as well — the latter is fairly impressive given the pedigree of LSU’s frontcourt. Unfortunately, the Tide were completely obliterated at the line, with LSU putting up an absurdly high FTR of 86.4%. The margin of 55.3% in favor of the opponent is by far the worst mark the Tide’s put up this season, more than twice the previous high set during the first Kentucky contest. The overwhelming advantage from the charity stripe in conjunction with a poor shooting night produced an 11 point victory in Win Margin for LSU, which coincidentally matched the difference on the scoreboard[1].

1 | I know this has happened several times this season, but it is a complete coincidence and not an intent of the Win Index formula.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide travel to lovely Starkvegas to face the cowbells and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The game is on Tuesday, February 10th, at 8 PM CST / 9 PM EST, and will be televised on SEC Network and

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.5003 (173) RPI 0.5641 (69) ALABAMA
BPI 56.8 (136) BPI 71.1 (58) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.4896 (166) PYTH 0.7975 (47) ALABAMA
Luck -0.007 (205) Luck -0.008 (206) PUSH

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 98.7 (221) DE+ 94.8 (56) ALABAMA
DE+ 99.1 (118) OE+ 106.8 (76) ALABAMA
T+ 64.2 (228) T+ 62.5 (296) MISSISSIPPI STATE

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.5568 (94) Sched. PYTH 0.6668 (23) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 102.1 (146) Opp. OE+ 105.2 (14) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 100.1 (79) Opp. DE+ 99.1 (41) ALABAMA
NCS PYTH 0.3215 (339) NCS PYTH 0.4954 (184) ALABAMA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 9 February 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!

So, what do we know?

Normally this is where we go down the line and compare the metrics between the two teams, talking about numbers[2], all that. I’m not going to do that today — Mississippi State’s basketball team is bad, and there’s not much to discuss in terms of metrics. This program fell off a cliff after Rick Stansbury "retired"[3] at the end of the 2012 season, and the likes of Renardo Sidney, Jarvis Varnado, and Arnett Moultrie are not walking through the door. The Tide have significant advantages in each overall quality metric, and on both ends of the floor. They’ve played the much tougher schedule, and should win this easily.

2 | Processing them, even.

3 | He’s an assistant for Texas A&M starting this year. Funny how they’re a lot better at basketball this season than they have been.

Well, except for one small problem: the Tide are running out of players. Tarrant, Obasohan, and Kessens will not be available for this game, and their status moving forward is in question. This puts the onus on two young players in particular — true freshman Justin Coleman and the aforementioned Hale. Hale has had one heck of a sophomore slump, but seems to be coming out of it over the last few games, and his play will be even more critical in Kessens’ absence. This game and the next few will hinge on Coleman, however, as the only healthy guards left are Randolph and non-factor Devin Mitchell. The Birmingham native has played extraordinarily well this season, but if he gets in foul trouble like he did against LSU this team will find it difficult to compete with any opponent, let alone a cellar-dweller like the Bulldogs. I’m taking the optimistic approach, however, and sticking with the Tide.

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide