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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Ole Miss Rebels

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After another tough road loss, the Tide return home to face the Rebels

Reinhold Matay-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?

Expectations were not overly high heading in to this game, as Nashville has not been a friendly venue for the Tide in recent years, not to mention the rash of injuries that looked to have Alabama down three players from the mid-season rotation. So, naturally, the Tide came out in the first half and really took it to Vanderbilt, bouncing back from a rough start to drop 22 points in the final 8 minutes of the frame. They even got 15 minutes out of presumed no-go Michael Kessens[1], who was questionable with a bum knee. Jimmie Taylor was a factor early and often. Levi Randolph was producing before the last 5 minutes of the game. The offense was humming on all cylinders. A Retin Obasohan three-pointer with 17 seconds left made it a 14 point margin, but a Wade Baldwin IV three-pointer cut the lead to 11 right at the half, producing a 38-27 score heading into the locker room. All was right with the world.

1 | For the whole game, that is.

That is, until after the break. In contrast to previous games, where the Tide pissed away the first half only to make things interesting in the second, ‘Bama came out of the locker room completely flat, allowing a 20-3 run for Vanderbilt to start the frame. In addition to going ice-cold from the floor, the foul attempts ramped up in favor of the Commodores, who went 18-21 from the line in the half. The Tide managed to shoot well from the line at 80%, but on just 10 attempts. The margin never closed to within 4 down the stretch, and Vandy took home a 73-66 victory. Few among the crimson faithful were anticipating a win in this venue, but they certainly were not expecting this team to find a new, exciting way to lose at this stage of the season.

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

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA VANDERBILT
eFG% 50.0% 52.0%
TO% 18.3% 15.0%
OR% 45.5% 33.3%
FTR 17.2% 49.0%
Win Index 43 47

The Tide shot pretty well in this one at 50% eFG%, but Vanderbilt shot just a little bit better. The Tide took pretty good care of the ball at a TO% of just 18.3%, but Vandy took care of the ball just a little bit better. The Tide actually won OR% despite a significant size advantage inside for the Commodores. Unsurprisingly, the bugaboo was at the line, where Vandy had a 25-10 attempt advantage for the game. I was not able to watch the second half at all this week and as such can’t comment on the officiating, but I find it odd that the Commodores were able to accrue so many attempts during the frame after starting from such a deep hole. Curious.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide return to Coleman to face the Ole Miss Rebels. The game is on Tuesday, March 3rd, at 6 PM CST / 7 PM EST, and will be televised on SEC Network and WatchESPN.com.

The Goods

Overall Quality
ALABAMA OLE MISS THE EDGE
RPI 0.5473 (83) RPI 0.5795 (48) OLE MISS
BPI 71.2 (59) BPI 76.8 (33) OLE MISS
PYTH 0.7789 (59) PYTH 0.8152 (40) OLE MISS
Luck -0.02 (232) Luck -0.043 (276) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
ALABAMA OLE MISS THE EDGE
OE+ 107 (73) DE+ 99.3 (111) ALABAMA
DE+ 95.9 (59) OE+ 113 (19) OLE MISS
T+ 62.2 (297) T+ 65.9 (122) OLE MISS

Schedule Ratings
ALABAMA OLE MISS THE EDGE
Sched. PYTH 0.6726 (29) Sched. PYTH 0.6528 (44) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 105.6 (27) Opp. OE+ 104.1 (79) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 99.2 (43) Opp. DE+ 98.5 (21) OLE MISS
NCS PYTH 0.4919 (191) NCS PYTH 0.484 (203) ALABAMA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 2 March 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?

BPI is a bit higher on Ole Miss than PYTH, but in both cases they are much lower on the Tide, with each advanced metric pegging the good guys at #59 overall. Neither of these teams have impressive-looking win-loss records, and as such RPI is cool on both of them. Shockingly enough, the Tide are thoroughly on the “underperforming expectation” side of the aisle, which may have something to do with a slew of injuries those for which those expectations do not account. Ole Miss is in the same boat, and actually to a worse degree than the Tide.

UPDATE: Nefarious spreadsheet betrayal lead to the above comments regarding Ole Miss' RPI rating. It's been fixed.

Ole Miss’ profile is very similar to Vanderbilt’s, in that they are a good offensive team that isn’t particularly effective on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for Tide fans, Ole Miss isn’t just good when they have the ball, they’re lethal, currently rating out 19th overall in OE+. They can, and have, scored points on everybody, including dropping 86 on Kentucky[2]. Ole Miss doesn’t bring an interior matchup nightmare of the Damian Jones / Jordan Mickey variety, but they do have capable three-point shooters in guards Stefan Moody and Ladarius White, and Moody is effective from the stripe at 91.2%. Despite the Tide’s capabilities on defense, expect for the Rebels to put up a ton of points.

2 | Albeit in OT, in a game Kentucky probably wasn’t taking seriously to start.

The key will be whether or not the Tide can keep pace with Ole Miss’ scoring. The Rebels are atrocious on the defensive side of the ball at 111th in DE+, which seems like the perfect panacea for the Tide’s offensive woes. While that was true for a half against the similarly-challenged Commodores, the Tide’s streaky shooting showed up again to tip the scales out of their favor. This is the kind of game where the scoring abilities of Ricky Tarrant are missed the most, as the Tide offense ran in a different gear when he was sharing the backcourt with Randolph.

Alabama has faced the tougher schedule than Ole Miss, but not by much, and that’s mainly the second Kentucky game at work. The magic box has this at 60.3% for the Tide when accounting for the venue at Coleman, but given the uneven attendance as of late and generally flagging interest in Tide basketball at this point in the season, I’m not overly optimistic about the home-court advantage. The neutral-court win expectancy for the Tide is a less-rosy 44.4%, which is the more accurate number for this one I’m afraid.

THE PICK: Ole Miss Rebels

ROLL TIDE