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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Vanderbilt Commodores Redux

The Tide get another shot at the Commodores

Kim Klement-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 avenged their first SEC loss of the year, but it came at great cost. After yet another cold first half, the Tide pulled away from the overmatched Gamecocks in the second. This was done without Shannon Hale, who reinjured a broken foot from the summer in the first, and Michael Kessens, who was out with a bruise to his knee. With two of the Tide’s bigger players out, South Carolina was again hellacious on the offensive boards, and Laimonas Chatkevicius was a load on the inside with 18 points. He was matched by the efforts of Levi Randolph and Retin Obasohan, who combined for 32 points and 7/8 from the stripe. For some reason South Carolina elected to take 30 shots from deep, despite being the SEC’s worst team from that distance.

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

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
eFG% 57.1% 40.9%
TO% 20.4% 24.1%
OR% 24.0% 45.9%
FTR 38.1% 14.5%
Win Index 44 39

This breakdown is largely similar to the last time these two played, with the Gamecocks winning OR% by a significant margin. The Tide did the same with eFG%, and the two teams were close on TO%, with a slight edge to the Tide. The big difference this time around was in FTR. The Tide won that factor last time as well, but the magnitude of the scores was much different. South Carolina took 27 attempts from the line last time, versus just 8 on Tuesday[1]. They made 6 of those attempts, but it was not enough to overcome the Tide this time around. The Win Index margin was 44-39 in favor of the good guys.

1 | Amazing what you can do when the refs aren’t screwing you over, isn’t it?

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Memorial Mausoleum Gymnasium in Nashville for a rematch with the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game is on Saturday, February 28th, at 3 PM CST / 4 PM EST, and oddly enough will be televised on Fox Sports Network and ESPN3.

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.5269 (119) RPI 0.5517 (80) ALABAMA
BPI 74.8 (43) BPI 71.3 (58) VANDERBILT
PYTH 0.8056 (43) PYTH 0.7832 (55) VANDERBILT
Luck -0.127 (349) Luck -0.01 (208) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 111.7 (35) DE+ 95.3 (55) VANDERBILT
DE+ 98.7 (101) OE+ 106.6 (79) ALABAMA
T+ 63.2 (264) T+ 62.2 (297) VANDERBILT

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.6264 (61) Sched. PYTH 0.6603 (34) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 102.9 (112) Opp. OE+ 105.1 (38) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 98.4 (18) Opp. DE+ 99.2 (43) VANDERBILT
NCS PYTH 0.4075 (286) NCS PYTH 0.4869 (197) ALABAMA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 28 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?

RPI has a slightly different take on the Commodores than the advanced metrics, which place Vanderbilt among the top-50 teams in the country, vs 119th per RPI. The inverse is true for the Tide, who at #80 have the edge in RPI but are lagging a bit behind in BPI and PYTH. That being said, the margins are slim, and while Vanderbilt has a slight edge overall this would be one heck of a game on a neutral court[2]. Vanderbilt has underperformed more than just about any team in the country, with the #349 score in Luck rating.

2 | Foreshadowing!

Vanderbilt leads the conference in three-point shooting, and has parlayed that and the continued excellence of center Damian Jones inside into a balanced offense ranked 35th overall in OE+. Defense is still the Tide’s calling card, but Vanderbilt will have the edge on that end of the floor. Like last time, however, they will have to win a shootout to take this one, as Vandy’s defense is nothing to write home about[3]. Last time the Tide were lethal from deep, converting 45.8% of their attempts, and will need to continue that trend with Hale out and Kessens questionable to play. Vandy plays at a slightly faster pace than the Tide, but has played the weaker schedule overall.

3 | Vandy also allows the highest opponent three-point percentage in the conference.

Nashville has long been an inhospitable venue for the Tide, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be this time around. Ricky Tarrant is officially out for the year, and as noted Hale is out and Kessens will likely join him. Unfortunately I suspect this will be a repeat of last time, as the Tide have no one to counter Jones on the inside. As noted on a neutral court this one is practically a toss-up, but at Memorial it’s 68.6% for the Commodores.

THE PICK: Vanderbilt Commodores