Fun With KenPom: Big 12 EditionPosted by KoryCarpenter on January 8th, 2013
Ken Pomeroy is considered a statistical genius when it comes to tempo-free college basketball analysis. He has been publishing his findings on his website since 2003, which is convenient in this case because we have 10 years of data to look into. He explains some of his ratings here, such as Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. Unlike KenPom, there is not much science in the following numbers, but more of an interesting look at trends between KenPom’s numbers and NCAA Tournament success. More to that point, the numbers from each year are not where a team was at this exact point in the season, but rather after the season was finished, so some teams may appear much better in the end-of-season analysis than they would if we compared them are a similar point in the season. Still it gives us a decent idea of where teams need to be if they want to have a good chance at making the Final Four.
Since Pomeroy began publishing his rankings in 2003, there have been 40 Final Four teams:
- Only five of those teams finished the season outside the top 15 in Pomeroy’s ranking. They were 2003 Marquette (16th), 2006 George Mason (23rd), 2010 Michigan State (23rd), 2011 Butler (41st), and 2011 VCU (52nd).
- Eight teams finished outside the top 25 in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 2012 Louisville (103rd), 2011 Butler (50th), 2011 VCU (32nd), 2010 Butler (50th), 2010 Michigan State (28th), 2006 UCLA (28th), 2006 LSU (50th), and 2006 George Mason (49th).
- Only five Final Four teams finished outside the top 25 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 2011 Butler (49th), 2011 VCU (86th), 2010 Michigan State (30th), 2003 Texas (44th), and 2003 Marquette (101st).
- All 10 National Champions finished in the top 10 of Pomeroy’s end of year ranking with an average ranking of 4.1.
- Six of those championship teams finished at No. 1: 2012 Kentucky, 2010 Duke, 2009 North Carolina, 2008 Kansas, 2006 Florida, and 2005 North Carolina.
- Only two champions finished outside the top five: 2011 Connecticut (10th) and 2003 Syracuse (7th).
- According to Pomeroy’s rankings, the best Final Four in the last decade was the 2008 edition, which is not surprising. It was the first time all four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four: Kansas (1st), Memphis (2nd), UCLA (3rd), and North Carolina (4th) were the four best teams according to Pomeroy’s rankings that year. Not only did Pomeroy’s ranking mirror the Final Four that season, but it played out exactly how he ranked all four teams.
- The worst Final Four? 2011. It was the only year that two teams (Butler, 41st, and VCU, 52nd) were outside the top 25.
Now, on to the Big 12. Five teams are currently in the top 50 in Pomeroy’s ranking:
- 5. Kansas (10th Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, 6th Adjusted Defensive Efficiency)
- 19. Oklahoma State (66th AdjO, 12th AdjD)
- 31. Baylor (15th AdjO, 111th AdjD)
- 39. Kansas State (95th AdjO, 27th AdjD)
- 45. Iowa State (33rd AdjO, 81st AdjD)
Starting at the top, Pomeroy’s rankings would suggest that Kansas has the best chance of any Big 12 team at making the Final Four this season, which most observers would agree with. If the last 10 seasons of Pomeroy data tell us anything, it is that the Jayhawks are the only team in the Big 12 with a realistic chance to win the national title, which again is something that most observers would agree with.
But look at the Oklahoma State defense. Fourteen teams have made the Final Four the last 10 years with an Adjusted Defensive Efficiency ranking between #10 and #20. The Cowboys currently sit at 12th in Adjusted Defense, although their 66th Adjusted Offense is less than stellar. With Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash on the perimeter, that number should improve although neither should be called efficient offensive players. Their overall ranking of 19th is close to the historic Final Four threshold of the top 15, however. It should be no surprise that Baylor has such an efficient offense with all that talent in Waco, but their 111th ranked defense will get them nowhere in March. Kansas State is on the other end of the spectrum, a respectable defense paired with a struggling offense. Neither team looks disciplined enough (Baylor) or talented enough (Kansas State) to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, and the numbers seem to agree. Iowa State probably didn’t have to be included in a discussion of Final Four hopefuls, but 50 was a nice even number and the Cyclones were lucky enough to make the cut.
Ken Pomeroy is constantly updating his rankings, so these numbers will change each week. With just over two months until the NCAA Tournament begins, the Big 12 has one contender and two (maybe three) teams on the outside of the bubble with a chance to improve their case in Big 12 play.