Breaking Down ACC Weekend #1 – Advanced Statistical PreviewPosted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 3rd, 2014
It’s the first weekend of conference play in the ACC, so let’s take a look at the match-ups from an advanced statistics perspective. For each game we will show how the two teams compare in efficiency ratings, offense versus defense. We will also look at interesting areas of particular strength and weakness that could hold the key to the outcome of the game. All numbers are from Ken Pomeroy’s site and are current through games of January 1, 2014. The games are presented in the order that they will be played this weekend (all times EST).
Saturday – Pittsburgh (12-1) @ N.C. State (10-3) – ACC Network (12:00 PM)
Pittsburgh Offensive Efficiency – 114.1 (#24 in the NCAA)
- N.C. State Defensive Efficiency – 100.4 (#110)
- N.C. State Offensive Efficiency – 109.5 (#66)
- Pittsburgh Defensive Efficiency – 92.5 (#11)
What to Watch For: In its first ACC conference game ever, Pitt looks to have a strong edge on the offensive end of the court. In particular, look for the Panthers to try to exploit the Wolfpack on the boards. Pitt comes in 11th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, while N.C. State is 237th in defensive rebounding percentage. Another area to watch is the mismatch in free throw attempts. N.C. State ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in free throw attempts, while Pitt rarely fouls. In fact, the Panthers actually had a game earlier this year against Cal Poly in which Pitt did not commit a single first half foul.
Saturday – Georgia Tech (9-4) @ Maryland (9-4, 1-0) ACC Network (2:00 PM)
Georgia Tech Offensive Efficiency – 103.5 (#178)
- Maryland Defensive Efficiency – 98.7 (#81)
- Maryland Offensive Efficiency – 108.7 (#77)
- Georgia Tech Defensive Efficiency – 98.0 (#63)
What to Watch For: Georgia Tech’s offense is clearly the weaker unit coming into this contest. The Yellow Jackets are not very good at shooting, ballhandling or getting to the free throw line. An interesting rebounding battle will be waged on Maryland’s offensive end of the floor. The Terrapins rank #21 in the country at offensive rebounding percentage and Georgia Tech is #40 in defensive rebounding percentage.
Saturday – Miami (8-5, 0-1) @ Syracuse (13-0) – ACC Network (2:00 PM)
Miami Offensive Efficiency - 103.9 (#173)
- Syracuse Defensive Efficiency – 93.7 (#20)
- Syracuse Offensive Efficiency - 118.4 (#3)
- Miami Defensive Efficiency - 96.9 (#50)
What to Watch For: This appears to be the biggest mismatch of the weekend in the ACC. Miami’s offensive struggles, particularly shooting the ball (#240 in effective field goal percentage) should make it hard on the Hurricanes to score against Syracuse’s tough zone defense. Turnover margin will likely be a huge edge for the Orange – Syracuse is #3 in the nation at forcing turnovers and #44 in avoiding them, while Miami’s rankings are bad at both ends of the floor with regards to miscues committed and forced.
Saturday – Duke (11-2) @ Notre Dame (9-4) – CBS (4:00 PM)
Duke Offensive Efficiency - 118.2 (#2)
- Notre Dame Defensive Efficiency – 100.9 (#122)
- Notre Dame Offensive Efficiency - 112.8 (#33)
- Duke Defensive Efficiency – 96.7 (#48)
What to Watch For: The Irish certainly have their work cut out for them in their inaugural ACC season with the recent news that leading scorer Jerian Grant will miss the remainder of the season with an academic issue. Even with Grant in the lineup, they were struggling to stop opposing offenses. An obvious key to this game will be Duke’s three-point shooting as the Devils will likely take a large number of shots from behind the arc. Notre Dame is #246 in limiting opponents’ three-point attempts and Duke usually doesn’t turn down open threes, so look for the game to depend on how well Duke connects. They have made an impressive 41.1 percent of their three-point tries on the year, but that doesn’t guarantee a great shooting afternoon in what will be a hostile road environment.
Saturday – Clemson (9-3) @ Boston College (4-10, 0-1) – RSNNetwork (4:00 PM)
Clemson Offensive Efficiency – 105.3 (#145)
- Boston College Defensive Efficiency – 110.0 (#300)
- Boston College Offensive Efficiency - 110.7 (#48)
- Clemson Defensive Efficiency - 91.0 (#1)
What to Watch For: This game features a strength versus strength match-up between Boston College’s offense and Clemson’s defense. Or if you prefer the half-empty glass – a weakness against weakness match-up on the other end of the court. Clemson looks to have a huge edge on the boards in this one, ranking much higher than the Eagles’ weak rebounding units on both ends of the floor.
Saturday - Virginia (9-4) @ Florida State (9-3) – ESPN2 (5:00 PM)
Virginia Offensive Efficiency – 104.9 (#156)
- Florida State Defensive Efficiency – 90.9 (#4)
- Florida State Offensive Efficiency – 106.6 (#119)
- Virginia Defensive Efficiency – 91.9 (#10)
What to Watch For: While this one doesn’t promise to be easy on the eyes, it is perhaps the most interesting match-up of the weekend from a statistical point of view. There are more area mismatches than we have room to mention, but the most obvious is the dominant defenses both squads will display versus offenses that have been very average so far this season. That is as long as Virginia doesn’t repeat the dismal performance the Cavaliers gave in their last game versus Tennessee, a 87-52 thrashing in Knoxville. Look for a lot of turnovers in this one as both teams struggle with ballhandling – Florida State is #320 in the NCAA in turnover percentage and Virginia ranks #272 in the same stat.
Sunday – North Carolina (10-3) @ Wake Forest (10-3) - ESPNU (8:00 PM)
North Carolina Offensive Efficiency - 112.0 (#42)
- Wake Forest Defensive Efficiency – 95.8 (#38)
- Wake Forest Offensive Efficiency - 103.3 (#184)
- North Carolina Defensive Efficiency – 93.3 (#18)
What to Watch For: It looks like the Wake Forest offense is the only weak unit in this one. A key to the game may be the rebounding match-up on the North Carolina offensive end, with the Heels ranking #36 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and the Deacs rated #22 in defensive rebounding percentage. The other thing to look for is something we’ve seen in many Tar Heel games so far, namely a bunch of missed free throws. Both teams get to the line frequently and both are dreadful at converting from the charity stripe. Believe it or not, North Carolina is actually playing a team that shoots free throws worse than they do, with Wake making 61.9 percent on the season compared to the Tar Heels’ 62.4 percent.