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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Texas A&M Aggies Redux

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The Crimson Tide close out the regular season against a tourney-bound Texas A&M

Troy Taormina-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?

Well, this is 2015 Tide basketball, so you probably knew what was going to happen before the game even started. As has been the habit of late, the Tide started the game on target, racing to a 12-4 lead on the backs of seniors Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper, and, surprisingly enough, little-used Dakota Slaughter. I’d like to pause here and give a hat tip to Coach Grant, who despite his faults leading this program on the sidelines has always been a class act, and proved it yet again by giving the start and serious minutes to Slaughter on Senior Day. Part of that was the injury situation with Ricky Tarrant, Shannon Hale, and the limited Michael Kessens, but it was still a nice gesture for the bright[1] and hardworking former walk-on.

1 | 4.0 in International Business and Spanish. And they say Alabama doesn’t care about academics, pfft.

In what has become a theme, the Tide missed critical free throws down the stretch in the first half, and with a timely three-pointer from sharpshooter LaDarius White the Rebels managed to close the gap to 30-27 at the break. The Rebels managed to get off 31 shots in the frame, 9 more than the Tide — that will be important later on.

In a near-repeat of the Vanderbilt game, the second half hinged on a 17-3 Ole Miss run starting with about 14 minutes left, which left the Tide in a deep hole they would not be able to claw out of. A total no-show from the bench and a now-rare off night from Retin Obasohan doomed the Tide and wasted what was perhaps Randolph’s finest game in crimson, a 32 point masterpiece that featured a school record 17 successful free throws on as many attempts[2]. Jimmie Taylor continued his strong play from the Vanderbilt game, but unfortunately got himself in foul trouble again, limiting his impact when the Tide could have used another effective performer alongside Randolph. The loss dropped the Tide to 4-5 in SEC home games, their worst mark in 40 years[3].

2 | Amazing, and amazingly hard to do. I might hit 2 of 17, just for the record.

3 | This little anecdote explains perfectly why this is Anthony Grant’s last year at the helm. 40 years!

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

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
Metric ALABAMA OLE MISS
eFG% 48.9% 53.5%
TO% 20.6% 11.1%
OR% 38.7% 38.2%
FTR 88.6% 45.6%
Win Index 50 48

This is another one of those games that breaks Win Index, as it was not as close as the margin in that metric would make it seem. Ole Miss’ torrid shooting in the second half gave them the edge over the Tide in eFG%, and they continued a season-long trend for the Tide by turning them over 13 times, nearly twice as many turnovers as Ole Miss had. OR% was nearly identical. The Tide earned a stunning 39 trips to the line, nearly double that earned by the Rebels, and thanks primarily to Randolph’s efforts converted them at just under 80%.

I was surprised to see Ole Miss claim the two most important factors and still lose on Win Index, but that’s what happens with such a huge free throw disparity. The reason the Rebels ended up winning was the turnovers edge, which was partially responsible for Ole Miss managing 13 more field goal attempts than the Tide. Some of that was balanced out by the Tide’s extra shots from the stripe, but it’s hard to make up such a steep differential. Usually it comes from opponent offensive rebounds, but in this case it was definitely the turnovers, and they made all the difference in the game.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide close out the season on the road in College Station against the Texas A&M Aggies. The game is on Saturday, March 7th, at 1 PM CST / 2 PM EST, and will be televised on something called “FULLCT[4],” according to ESPN.com. It will also be available on ESPN3.

4 | Presumably ESPN Full Court, which is a thing that apparently exists.

The Goods

Overall Quality
TEXAS A&M ALABAMA THE EDGE
RPI 0.5816 (47) RPI 0.5417 (90) TEXAS A&M
BPI 76.3 (36) BPI 70.5 (62) TEXAS A&M
PYTH 0.8144 (43) PYTH 0.7606 (63) TEXAS A&M
Luck 0.023 (131) Luck -0.028 (253) TEXAS A&M

Efficiency Ratings
TEXAS A&M ALABAMA THE EDGE
OE+ 107.7 (67) DE+ 97.2 (77) TEXAS A&M
DE+ 94.7 (46) OE+ 107.5 (69) TEXAS A&M
T+ 63.8 (236) T+ 62.3 (297) TEXAS A&M

Schedule Ratings
TEXAS A&M ALABAMA THE EDGE
Sched. PYTH 0.6434 (55) Sched. PYTH 0.6731 (33) ALABAMA
Opp. OE+ 104.7 (60) Opp. OE+ 105.8 (27) ALABAMA
Opp. DE+ 99.4 (50) Opp. DE+ 99.4 (46) ALABAMA
NCS PYTH 0.4693 (220) NCS PYTH 0.4942 (189) ALABAMA

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of 5 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?

These squads couldn’t be in more different places than they were back in January. For one, the Aggies were without then-leading scorer and still-leading rebounder Jalen Jones, and the second they got him back they proceeded to start tearing up the SEC[5]. The Tide game also capped the emergence of junior transfer guard Danuel House, who’s averaged 18 a game for the Aggies starting with the double-overtime loss to Kentucky[6], and is now their leading scorer at a shade under 15 a game. In contrast, the leading scorer from that contest was Tarrant, and it also featured a near double-double from the banged-up Kessens. House’s emergence and the return Jones have propelled the Aggies into a likely tourney bid, and the Tide have plummeted from such lofty heights and are potentially in danger of missing the NIT[7].

5 | Six wins in a row until losing at Ole Miss.

6 | He went 0-10 with 0 point against Florida earlier this week, though.

7 | I still think they get in at 17-15, but we’ll see. 18-14 would be better!

As far as the numbers are concerned — not a rosy outlook. The last time I recall seeing a shutout in the quality and efficiency ratings was Kentucky, and unless you’ve blocked it from your memory you recall how that went. One glimmer of hope is that ‘Bama may be able to shut down Texas A&M on the offensive end and at least keep it close. That didn’t work at all against Ole Miss[8], but Texas A&M is also not anywhere near as lethal as the Rebels on that end of the court. Expect vintage Grantsketball on the other end, unless Randolph can cap a sparkling career in crimson with another gem. The magic box isn’t on board with that potential outcome, however, spitting out a win expectancy in excess of 75% for the Aggies.

8 | They put up an offensive efficiency of 130 points per 100 possessions against the Tide. That’s, um, skrong.

THE PICK: Texas A&M Aggies

ROLL TIDE