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Processing the Numbers, Basketball Edition | Norfolk State Spartans

The Tide get one last tune-up before the tip-off of SEC play

Aaron Doster-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?

Not especially well. The Tide were once again without Shannon Hale, and got off to a slow, ugly start against an opponent that they should have blown off the floor. They never really got better from the field, hitting their last field goal of regulation with 12 minutes to go in the game. Jacksonville State was not much better, but they kept it close enough to where the Tide needed to hit several free throws down the stretch to stay in the game. The Gamecocks still forced overtime, but the Tide were able to pick up a few points close in to the basket and numerous free throws to claim a 67-59 victory. Senior Arthur Edwards led the way with 16 points, and Riley Norris came off the bench to notch a double-double.

For a more detailed review of the game, check out btbama22’s fine game recap.

The Four Factors

The Four Factors
eFG% 42.4% 41.4%
TO% 18.6% 25.7%
OR% 27.8% 35.7%
FTR 93.5% 12.5%
Win Index 47 37

eFG% ratings in the low 40s are not good — for reference, the Tide have averaged just over 50% for the year — and underscore how poorly both teams shot in this game. The eye-popping number is the FTR in the 90s, which is probably the only reason the Tide were able to take this one.

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

Right! Next up, the Alabama Crimson Tide welcome the Norfolk State Spartans to Coleman Coliseum in their last non-conference matchup before the start of SEC play. The game is on Saturday, January 2nd at 1:00 PM CST / 2:00 PM EST, and will be televised on SEC Network and

The Goods

Overall Quality
RPI 0.5919 (46) RPI 0.4642 (221) ALABAMA
BPI 65.5 (100) BPI 39 (257) ALABAMA
PYTH 0.6538 (100) PYTH 0.3756 (225) ALABAMA
Luck 0.227 (2) Luck -0.07 (292) ALABAMA

Efficiency Ratings
OE+ 100.7 (207) DE+ 110.3 (321) ALABAMA
DE+ 95.3 (32) OE+ 105.5 (116) ALABAMA
T+ 68 (264) T+ 66.4 (318) NORFOLK STATE

Schedule Ratings
Sched. PYTH 0.5811 (85) Sched. PYTH 0.6493 (36) NORFOLK STATE
Opp. OE+ 104.7 (66) Opp. OE+ 104.9 (62) PUSH
Opp. DE+ 101.8 (132) Opp. DE+ 99.4 (28) NORFOLK STATE
NCS PYTH 0.5811 (87) NCS PYTH 0.6864 (22) NORFOLK STATE

(Bold) numbers indicate national ranking.

Ratings information as of January 1st, 2016.

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!

The Disclaimer

For the first several weeks of the season, these metrics are based partially on preseason projection factors, namely recent program performance, the effects of roster attrition, the impact of Top 100 recruits, and sweet, sweet voodoo.[1]

As the season progresses, data from games played will be factored in, with a progressively lighter emphasis on the preseason ratings. Starting around the middle of January (usually the start of conference play), preseason ratings will be removed and the metrics will be based purely on this season’s games.

1 | This last one's not true.

So, what do we know?

First, in case you missed it, BamaBrave4 did his usual (and absurdly good) qualitative breakdown for this game in conjunction with his Jacksonville State preview earlier this week; you can find it here.

As for this matchup, no big changes in the Tide’s ratings after the win over the Gamecocks, though they dropped a bit in the PYTH ratings. Surprisingly their Luck rating remains mostly unchanged despite the poor effort earlier this week, as they maintained the #2 ranking nationally in that metric. The Spartans aren’t as poorly-regarded as the Tide’s previous opponent, but they’re not great either, hovering around the low-to-mid 200s in most rankings. They are among the country’s most disappointing teams, however, with the #292 ranking in the Luck ratings.

The poor showing against Jacksonville State’s abysmal defense tanked the Tide’s rating in OE+, and they are now the #200 team in that metric, which is significantly worse than they finished a year ago. The defensive rating is still among the nation’s highest at #32 overall in DE+; regardless, they have significant advantages over the Spartans on both ends of the floor. Tempo slightly favors a much slower Norfolk State squad who are among the 40 slowest-playing teams in America.

One surprising impact of the Jacksonville State game[2] was that it completely tanked the Tide’s strong schedule ratings, which are no longer among the country’s best. This will be the last non-conference game until potential postseason play, so the NCS PYTH rating will probably settle in around the #100 ranking or so — SEC play will improve the remaining schedule metrics. The magic box has it at 84.9% for the Tide, so this is an easy call.

2 | And, presumably, this one.

THE PICK: Alabama Crimson Tide