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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | South Carolina Gamecocks Redux

After yet another tough loss, the Tide finally get an opportunity to avenge their first SEC loss of the year

Dale Zanine-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?

Apparently the offensive explosion in Lee County was a one-half-only sort of thing, because the Tide elected to return to classic Grantsketball on Saturday against Georgia. A thrilling first half saw these two juggernauts of offensive basketball put up 24 points apiece, thanks to some gloriously cold shooting on the part of the Tide. The second half saw a more motivated version of each squad, resulting in a back-and-forth affair where neither team could quite pull away[1] .

1 | Check.

After Georgia took a one-point lead with 46 seconds remaining, Michael Kessens was fouled at the other end, making his first attempt but missing the second[2] to tie the game with 17 seconds remaining. After a fortuitous block from Jimmie Taylor nullified Georgia’s ensuing possession, timeout was called by Anthony Grant[3], and the resultant set play was botched[4] to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Tide continued to let Georgia hang around[5], and were unable to convert after the Bulldogs took the final lead with 10 seconds remaining. Another uneven shooting night, another missed free throw down the stretch, another set play that didn’t work. Another close, disappointing loss.

2 | Check.

3 | Check.

4 | Check.

5 | Aaaaand check.

For a more in-depth, qualitative review of the game, check out btbama22’s somber game recap.

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
eFG% 43.8% 40.5%
TO% 15.9% 13.8%
OR% 27.3% 26.2%
FTR 55.4% 46.6%
Win Index 44 42

This is fun, isn’t it? The Tide claimed three of the four factors, and lost the fourth due to just two additional turnovers. Win Index says the Tide should have won, and yet they did not. The issue, of course, was foul shooting, which isn’t accounted for in the Win Index. FTR is, which the Tide won after taking 31 shots against 56 attempts from the field, versus 27 and 58 for Georgia. The problem is Georgia made 19 of their shots, versus just 16 for the Tide. You may note that is a difference of three points, versus the two point margin on the scoreboard.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide look to avenge an early SEC loss when the South Carolina Gamecocks visit Coleman Coliseum. The game is on Tuesday, February 24th, at 6 PM CST / 7 PM EST, and will be televised on SEC Network and

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.5517 (80) RPI 0.5406 (100) ALABAMA
BPI 70.9 (58) BPI 67.7 (74) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.7715 (55) PYTH 0.752 (65) ALABAMA
Luck -0.017 (224) Luck -0.066 (307) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 105.9 (89) DE+ 91.9 (15) SOUTH CAROLINA
DE+ 95.3 (52) OE+ 101.2 (182) ALABAMA
T+ 62.7 (283) T+ 65.2 (159) SOUTH CAROLINA

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.657 (35) Sched. PYTH 0.7152 (7) SOUTH CAROLINA
Opp. OE+ 105.3 (25) Opp. OE+ 105.9 (13) SOUTH CAROLINA
Opp. DE+ 99.5 (53) Opp. DE+ 97.7 (9) SOUTH CAROLINA
NCS PYTH 0.486 (196) NCS PYTH 0.5202 (158) SOUTH CAROLINA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 23 February 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?

The result from the last time these two teams was eerily similar to the Tide’s most recent effort, with Alabama winning the Win Index margin by two, but losing the game by two thanks in part to superior foul shooting from the Gamecocks. South Carolina was regarded much differently at that time, riding the PYTH pre-season projections to a #37 ranking. Since that one atrocious night in Columbia, however, they’ve played thoroughly mediocre ball, slumming it with the APIs of the world. The Tide are now regarded as the better team by all three quality metrics, and have underperformed expectation by a less egregious margin than the Gamecocks to boot.

South Carolina still fields one of the nation’s fiercer defensive squads, and that, in conjunction with the Tide’s ongoing offensive ineptitude, promises to render this one another low-scoring snoozefest. Fortunately for Tide fans, South Carolina’s offense is beyond terrible, among the SEC’s worst and below the national average in OE+. The Tide are definitely the more balanced of the two squads, and if they are able to put two halves of solid offensive basketball together they should win this one easily. The Gamecocks have played one of the nation’s toughest schedules at #7 overall, and are the first team in a couple of weeks to sweep the Tide in the schedule metrics.

There are two very important keys to this game, however[6]. One is that it is on Tuesday, which is a day that is not Saturday — the Tide have now dropped four in a row on that day, stretching back to the first victory over API this year. The second is that this game is at Coleman, and while the home court hasn’t been terribly kind to the Tide lately, it should be enough to power the good guys to victory in this one. The magic box has it at 67.7% for the Tide, and that sounds just about right to me.

6 | By “key” I mean “superstition of dubious utility”.

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide