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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Alabama Poly Warplainseagletigers Redux

FLAGGED.

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?

That mournful[1] sound you hear is the death knell for Anthony Grant’s tenure at the Capstone, as the puzzling home loss to a frankly mediocre Vanderbilt squad was probably the final straw after six years of mostly disappointing results. I don’t personally think it happens before the end of the season, but unless the Tide go on a miracle run through the SEC tourney the writing’s on the wall at this point.

1 | Or cheerful, depending on your disposition vis-a-vis Coach Grant.

The latest edition of the Tide-lose-a-close-one-late started out fairly well, with distributed scoring from Retin Obasohan, Rodney Cooper, Jimmie Taylor, and Shannon Hale, all of whom contributed at least 5 points in the frame. Those 24 points were critical, as Levi Randolph was unable to get on the board in the first after starting the game ice-cold from the field. The Tide were up 33-28 late in the frame, with Obasohan on the line for a one-and-one. The Belgian doinked his first attempt off the front of the rim, and a questionable foul on the other end and some gamesmanship[2] from Vandy’s Wade Baldwin IV lead to a technical on Michael Kessens and four foul shots for the Commodores. Baldwin and Riley LaChance converted all four to bring the Commodores within a point of the Tide. Freshman Riley Norris proceeded to airmail the inbounds pass, giving the ball right back to Vandy on their side of the court. The Commodores were fortunately unable to convert, and thus the game was 32-33 in favor of the Tide at intermission. Just to recap, that was a chance to go up seven that the Tide derped into a one-point lead in just ten seconds.

2 | I’m being diplomatic, as I’m not allowed to say things like “*REDACTED* *REDACTED* behavior” here.

The Commodores were able to keep it close in the second, not allowing the Tide to get more than 4 points ahead at any point in the half. This is particularly impressive given the Tide got hot from beyond the arc, converting 7 of their 13 attempts in the half to finish at 11 of 24 for the game. Part of the problem is the good guys had no answer for Damian Jones, who lead all scorers with 20 points and 9 free throw attempts, as he received trips to the charity stripe if Taylor so much as breathed on him wrong. The Tide were within three with 1:39 remaining, but after a LaChance jumper at 0:59 second pushed the margin to five and Taylor missed a layup on the other end, the Tide were forced to play the foul game, leading to a 76-68 final. Those four points lost at the end of the first half would have been especially useful down the stretch.

For a more in-depth[3], qualitative review of the game, check out Roger_RBR's somber game recap.

3 | Maybe not, I’m feeling particularly verbose this morning.

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA VANDERBILT
eFG% 49.1% 54.5%
TO% 11.5% 9.8%
OR% 35.9% 17.2%
FTR 29.3% 79.5%
Win Index 44 50

The Tide ended up shooting fairly well in this one, due mainly to the 46% they put up from three-point land — they were an uninspiring 40% from the field overall. Vanderbilt was better though, thanks to the unstoppable Jones and his 7 for 11 night. The Tide were nasty on the offensive boards and took that factor, but this game was lost at the line. Vanderbilt doubled up the attempts (35 vs. 17 for the Tide) and converted at an 80% clip, good for a 17 point edge from the stripe. This was the second-worst performance from the Tide this season in terms of opponent FTR, eclipsed only by the LSU game the previous Saturday. Where the fabled home-court refereeing advantage went is beyond me, as this was just the fourth home game the Tide lost the FTR factor. The first two were against early-season patsies[4], and the third was against Kentucky — a contest where the Tide were basically holding on for dear life. As noted in the game thread Coleman wasn’t exactly hopping on Valentine’s Day evening, which was probably a factor — but as alluded to earlier there were several questionable calls down low that went against the Tide. The fact they managed to get such an edge on the Tide despite taking 14 less shots is… interesting. At any rate, added all up the Commodores took the Win Margin battle 50-44. Another one that slipped through the proverbial fingers.

4 | And were more near-misses than losses. We’re talking margins of 0.5% and 4% — an attempt or two.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide travel to West Georgia to play the Alabama Poly Warplainseagletigers. The game is on Tuesday, February 17th, at 8 PM CST / 9 PM EST, and will be televised on ESPNU and WatchESPN.com.

The Goods

Overall Quality
ALABAMA POLY ALABAMA THE EDGE
RPI 0.5191 (136) RPI 0.5559 (75) ALABAMA
BPI 57.3 (135) BPI 70.1 (58) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.5685 (135) PYTH 0.7709 (56) ALABAMA
Luck 0.044 (94) Luck -0.004 (193) ALABAMA POLY

Efficiency Ratings
ALABAMA POLY ALABAMA THE EDGE
OE+ 103.9 (124) DE+ 95.2 (56) ALABAMA
DE+ 101.4 (157) OE+ 105.8 (87) ALABAMA
T+ 68 (38) T+ 62.6 (292) ALABAMA POLY

Schedule Ratings
ALABAMA POLY ALABAMA THE EDGE
Sched. PYTH 0.6471 (38) Sched. PYTH 0.6624 (26) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 103.4 (94) Opp. OE+ 105.4 (17) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 98.1 (14) Opp. DE+ 99.4 (52) ALABAMA POLY
NCS PYTH 0.5202 (156) NCS PYTH 0.4902 (189) ALABAMA POLY

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 16 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?

As noted in yesterday’s Advanced Stats Rundown, the Vanderbilt loss was bad enough that the Tide are now ranked outside the PYTH top-50 for the first time since the preseason projections were dropped in mid-January. They still rank a ways ahead of API, who are the near-unanimous 135th ranked team in the country. They’ve also outperformed expectations a bit this season, ranking well ahead of the Tide in the Luck rating, but surprisingly they are not the #1-ranked team in that metric.

The Tide have a solid edge at both ends of the court according to the efficiency numbers, although it should be noted the Fambly likes to run and hold a significant advantage in adjusted tempo. The two teams have played comparable schedules, though the Tide has had the tougher road in the SEC thusfar — API gets their lone crack at Kentucky later this week.

Last time these two teams met, the Tide escaped with a 57-55 victory at Coleman. That was back when Ricky Tarrant was on the floor for the Tide, and while Turnt spent most of the game on the bench with foul trouble, he managed to contribute 9 points in just 16 minutes, including a perfect 6-6 from the stripe. His excellence from the line has been missed — the Tide have shot 5% worse from there since his injury — and as a whole the Tide offense has been about 33% worse with him off the floor[5]. All indications are that he won’t be playing on Tuesday night, and this time the Tide will be playing in West Georgia. Compound that with the rather bleak outlook for the program at this point, and it’s not looking too good. The magic box has it at almost 60% for the Tide, but that’s based on a team with Turnt on the floor, not to mention a pulse[6]. Sometimes I really despise being a rational person[7].

5 | The Tide posted OEs about 7.2 points higher than their SEC opponents’ DE+s before the injury, and only 4.8 points better afterwards. 33% reduction.

6 | I’m off the bandwagon now, if that wasn’t clear.

7 | One possible glimmer of hope: API sucks, and they especially suck at home, where they are only 2-4 in SEC play.

THE PICK: Them

ROLL TIDE