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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | LSU Tigers

After a much-needed win against Missouri, can the Tide deal with one of the nation's best frontcourts at LSU?

Derick E. Hingle-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?

Kind of ugly, to be honest. Neither team shot particularly well in the game, probably as a result of good defense and a somewhat passive officiating crew in the first half. Alabama only lead by 2 at the break, but Missouri was simply putrid in the second half, shooting 27% from the field and just 13% from beyond the arc. Behind 20 points from Levi Randolph and double figures from Retin Obasohan and Shannon Hale — the second straight such game from both — the Tide were able to put away Missouri 62-49.

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% 51.4% 35.7%
TO% 16.4% 16.4%
OR% 20.0% 26.8%
FTR 91.9% 23.2%
Win Index 49 37

Missouri lost this game from the field, as a 35.7% mark in eFG% isn’t going to cut it against quality competition[1]. The Tide continued to put up around their average in that metric, more than enough to take the factor. Despite outrebounding the Tigers the Tide lost on the offensive boards, as the rebounding margin was the result of many, many opportunities off of Missouri missed baskets. The big swing in this game was at the stripe, where the Tide got to nearly 92% in FTR, by far their best effort of the year. More importantly, they converted 24 of those 34 opportunities, which isn’t a great mark but is more than enough to make Missouri pay for all of those fouls. The Win Index of 49 was the Tide’s finest mark in SEC play, and the 12 point margin over Missouri nearly mimics the 13 point margin on the scoreboard.

1 | The Tide’s lowest was 37.3% against UCLA, for comparison.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide head on down to Red Stick to face the LSU Tigers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game is on Saturday, February 7th, at 5 PM CST / 6 PM EST, and will be televised on ESPN2 and

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.577 (51) RPI 0.5671 (67) LSU
BPI 74.3 (44) BPI 71.9 (56) LSU
PYTH 0.7978 (47) PYTH 0.8101 (40) ALABAMA
Luck -0.025 (240) Luck 0 (185) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 105.3 (96) DE+ 94.5 (56) ALABAMA
DE+ 93.4 (35) OE+ 107.2 (68) LSU
T+ 71.5 (8) T+ 62.7 (290) LSU

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.5622 (92) Sched. PYTH 0.6513 (26) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 101.9 (151) Opp. OE+ 104.9 (18) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 99.7 (60) Opp. DE+ 99.3 (48) ALABAMA
NCS PYTH 0.4196 (276) NCS PYTH 0.4875 (196) ALABAMA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 7 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?

The win over Missouri amongst the national goings-on was enough to boost the Tide back into the PYTH Top-40, where they are a little better regarded than their opponent. RPI and BPI do not agree, as LSU is considered a top-50 team in the latter metric and nearly that in RPI. The Tigers have had an interesting season, as they are absolutely loaded with talent, in particular frontcourt mates Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, both of whom are averaging at least 16 points and 9 boards a game. That talent’s been there at times as well, with wins at West Virginia, Ole Miss, and Florida, and an exciting double-overtime win over Georgia back on January 10th. They also lost on the road to Missouri and Mississippi State, and at home against Alabama Poly on Thursday. Season-long inconsistency has plagued the Tigers, and that’s plainly apparent with their Luck rating in the low-200s. The Tide have achieved luck perfection[2], as they are now performing exactly at the level expected.


For all that frontcourt talent the Tiger offense is kind of eh, ranking just 96th in the country in OE+. The Tide defense has backslid a bit from the loftier heights of a few weeks ago, but still have a significant advantage on LSU at that end of the court. Until you note LSU plays at the 8th fastest tempo in the country, which is a significant enough difference that it may impact the game. The Tide have managed to run with more uptempo opponents before, but at its core this team is all about Grantball — slow asphyxiation by way of stifling defense. Speaking of which, LSU’s defense is pretty solid, and with 6’ 10” Martin, 6’ 8” Mickey, and 7’ center Darcy Malone, the Tide will be seeing a lot of beef down in the paint. Perimeter shooting may be the key for the Tide in this one, as in addition to all of their other talents Mickey and Martin combine to block over 4.5 shots a game.

Despite all that struggle, the Tigers haven’t played a particularly tough schedule for an SEC team at this point in the year, and they haven’t seen overly strong offenses in particular. When you step back and realize the Tide have played two games against Kentucky, as well as road/neutral tilts against Xavier, Iowa State, and Wichita State, AND a home win over a UCLA team that’s currently third in the PAC-12 — kind of opens your eyes a bit. If it wasn’t for close losses against Arkansas, South Carolina, and Florida, we’d be talking about this team a lot differently.

As for the game at hand, while the Tide would have the slight edge on a neutral court, adjusting for the fact this is in the land of corndogs the magic box has it pegged at about 64% for the Tigers. However, BB4 pointed out the quirkiness of LSU’s schedule, as they’re coming off two bad losses and have Kentucky looming on Tuesday. Unlike BB4 I think that may be a factor here, as LSU seems to be spiraling out of control at the worst possible time — I’m taking the good guys in an upset[3].

3 | And will probably regret it about 7 hours from now, but that’s what makes this fun!

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide