Inside the ACC Numbers: Volume II

Posted by Brad Jenkins on January 24th, 2020

This is the second edition of our weekly view at the current ACC standings with a focus on which teams are playing better or worse than their conference records may indicate. We will also delve into some advanced metrics to share a few interesting notes on teams, statistics and trends around the conference. Finally, we will forecast how the final ACC standings may look given current efficiency margins, and what that may mean for teams’ ultimate postseason aspirations.

Note: All numbers are current for games played through Wednesday, January 22.

Current Standings

Looking at the current standings, there are three tiers of teams at or above .500 in conference play. At the top, Duke holds a significant advantage over Florida State and Louisville in efficiency margin, but that margin is largely because the Blue Devils have played the weakest schedule in the ACC thus far — beating four bottom-dwellers by over 30 points each. Among the three schools with 5-3 records, Syracuse is playing the best basketball on a per-possession basis, thanks in great part to the Orange’s acumen on the road (more on that below). Virginia is the only team sporting a 4-4 league mark that has a positive efficiency margin, but the Cavaliers have struggled in close games, dropping all four contests by fewer than eight points. Miami looks like the ACC’s worst squad from an efficiency standpoint, but nobody has faced the ominous slate of conference games that the Hurricanes have to date. Miami has already met Duke and Louisville twice, and lost to Florida State in overtime last Saturday.

Advanced Statistic of the Week: Home Court Advantage?

Things are not going as expected for host teams in the ACC this year. With 39 percent of league games already in the books, visiting squads are winning more than half of the time. The chart above shows how ACC home court advantage has worked over the last seven seasons. The national average for home court winning percentage has hovered around 60 percent in recent years and is at 59.9 percent so far in 2020. The ACC is clearly the outlier among major conferences this year – all other Power Six leagues have a home floor winning rate of over 63 percent (including the Big Ten’s incredible 80 percent).

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Inside the ACC Numbers: Volume I

Posted by Brad Jenkins on January 17th, 2020

With exactly 30 percent of conference play now in the books, it’s time to take a look inside the ACC numbers. This is the first edition of our weekly view at the current ACC standings with a focus on which teams are playing better or worse than their conference records may indicate. We will also delve into some advanced metrics to share a few interesting notes on teams, statistics and trends around the conference. Finally, we will forecast how the final ACC standings may look given current efficiency margins, and what that may mean for teams’ ultimate postseason aspirations.

Note: All numbers are current for games played through Wednesday, January 15.

Current Standings

This early in the conference slate, efficiency numbers can be highly skewed by blowouts. Case in point, Syracuse ranks third in efficiency margin, largely due to 25+ point wins over Georgia Tech and Boston College. Likewise, Jim Christian’s Eagles are .500 in the standings but dead last in efficiency margin because they’ve been outscored in their three losses by a total of 84 points. Virginia is worse in the standings compared to their per-possession play because of its inability to win tight contests. The Cavaliers have tasted defeat each time that they were in a game decided by fewer than eight points. Tony Bennett needs to figure that out as Virginia seems headed for more tight affairs due to its slow pace of play, stingy defense (ranking first in the ACC) and anemic offense (dead last in the leaguge). A depleted North Carolina squad has been reeling lately, and things may get even worse – the Tar Heels’ struggles have occurred against the easiest schedule in the league to date.

Advanced Statistic of the Week: Offensive Efficiency Woes

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2019-20 RTC16: Week Eight

Posted by Walker Carey on January 6th, 2020

The beginning of conference play is always good for temporarily removing the shine from a team or two that had been a non-conference darling. This season that phenomenon applies to #11 Louisville and #13 Ohio State. Louisville started its season 9-0, but has since lost three of its last five games, with the most concerning coming Saturday in a 13-point home loss to #10 Florida State. Guard play continues to be a significant issue for the Cardinals, as Fresh Kimble, Darius Perry and Ryan McMahon combined for just 14 points on 6-of-27 shooting in the loss. Ohio State was another early season standout, as the Buckeyes stood at 11-1 on Christmas Day and looked to be the class of a strong Big Ten. They have since lost two straight, including a puzzling 61-57 home loss to Wisconsin last Friday. While sloppy play was a major reason for the defeat (Ohio State committed 14 turnovers to just eight assists), it must be noted that the Buckeyes are currently without junior starting forward Kyle Young, who had an appendectomy early last week and is game-to-game moving forward. It is certainly too early in league play to speculate whether Louisville and Ohio State will regain their early season form, but it would be wise for both teams to get back on track before their NCAA Tournament résumés begin to take significant hits. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

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2019-20 RTC16: Week Seven

Posted by Walker Carey on December 30th, 2019

The final full week of 2019 did not really get going on the hardwood until Saturday when one of the most bitter rivalries in college basketball resumed with #4 Louisville visiting #16 Kentucky. The game did not disappoint, as the Cardinals fought back from an eight-point halftime deficit to force overtime before the home Wildcats grabbed control in the final minute of the extra period to earn a hotly contested 78-70 victory. It was a much-needed win for Kentucky, as it entered riding a two-game losing streak and had not earned an impressive victory since its season opening dispatch of Michigan State. The Wildcats were led by incredible efforts from freshman guard Tyrese Maxey, who tallied a game-high 27 points, sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley, who added a career-high 18 points, and junior forward Nick Richards, who controlled the game inside with 13 points and 10 rebounds. John Calipari‘s squad also did an excellent job frustrating star Louisville forward Jordan Nwora all afternoon, as the standout junior was mostly a non-factor, finishing with just eight points and four rebounds. Kentucky is still far from a finished product, but if it can string together several more impressive efforts, the Wildcats will once again be a factor in both the SEC race and on the national landscape. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

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Ten Questions To Consider: The Final Weekend of 2019

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on December 28th, 2019

In the midst of the holidays comes a weekend of action where teams must avoid distraction off the court as they look to answer questions on the court. Highlighted by Louisville’s trip to Rupp Arena, here are 10 questions I have for this weekend’s slate of games:

  1. How will Kentucky’s offense look in the half-court? (Louisville @ Kentucky, Saturday, 3:45 PM EST, CBS) Defensively, no team has a lower opponents’ transition effective field goal percentage than Louisville. On offense, Kentucky’s non-transition effective field-goal percentage ranks outside of the top 200. The Wildcats, one of the nation’s worst three-point shooting teams, must find a way to knock down perimeter shots to beat Louisville.
  2. Can Wisconsin’s “Big Three” be efficient from beyond the arc? (Wisconsin @ Tennessee, Saturday, 1:30 PM EST, CBS) Entering the weekend, the shot making of Nate Reuvers, D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison has been a bellweather for success. In the team’s six wins, the trio has shot 41.2 percent from three-point range; In Wisconsin’s five defeats, however, the trio has made just 21.5 percent of its shots from deep.
  3. Will Ohio State continue to torch the nets from beyond the arc? (West Virginia vs. Ohio State, Sunday, Noon, FS1) The Buckeyes are shooting over 40 percent from three-point range on the season, good for a top 10 ranking nationally. West Virginia will be Ohio State’s first opponent with a defensive three-point percentage ranking of 80th or better, however (Mountaineers rank fourth).
  4. Just how good is Stanford freshman Tyrell Terry? (Kansas @ Stanford, Sunday, 3 PM EST, ABC) Tyrell Terry is averaging over 15 points and five rebounds per game this season while making 40.4 percent of his three-point attempts. The four-star freshman guard has struggled with turnovers recently, however, coughing up the ball 15 times over his last four games.
  5. Can Arkansas keep the Hoosiers off the free throw line and steal a road win? (Arkansas @ Indiana, Sunday, 6 PM EST, Big Ten Network) Only Eastern Michigan has a higher free throw attempt to field goal attempt ratio than Indiana. If Arkansas can avoid fouls and limit one of the nation’s best freshman offensive rebounders in Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Razorbacks have a chance to pick up their first quality non-conference win.
  6. Can Duke’s Joey Baker keep his recent success going? (Brown @ Duke, Saturday, 11:30 AM EST, ESPN2) After scoring just over four points in 10 minutes per game through Duke’s first seven contests, Baker is averaging 12.8 points in 19.5 minutes per game over Duke’s last four. Baker gives Coach K another sharpshooter who can help keep the post clear for Vernon Carey.
  7. Can Liberty’s balanced attack keep the Flames undefeated? (Liberty @ LSU, Sunday, 1:30 PM EST, SEC Network) Ritchie McKay’s Liberty squad features six players averaging nine or more points per game this season. The Flames have had four different players lead the team in scoring over the squad’s last five games.
  8. What can be made of UC Irvine’s start to the season? (Pacific @ UC Irvine, Saturday, 10 PM EST) Russell Turner’s Anteaters were tabbed as the preseason Big West favorite, but after losing only six games last season, they have already lost seven this season. A defense that ranks among the bottom 40 in three-point percentage defense will be challenged by a Pacific squad that ranks among the top 40 three-point shooting teams.
  9. Will Bryant help turn Maryland’s fortunes around as they get ready for Big Ten play? (Bryant @ Maryland, Sunday, Noon, Big Ten Network) After starting 10-0, the Terps dropped consecutive games at Penn State and Seton Hall. In those defeats, senior guard Anthony Cowan went 8-of-31 from the field along with nine turnovers and just six assists. While Bryant struggles to force turnovers and protect its defensive glass, the Bulldogs own a top 40 effective field-goal percentage defense.
  10. Can Cartier Diarra end Kansas State’s recent struggles? (Tulsa @ Kansas State, Sunday, 6 PM EST, ESPN+) The Wildcats have lost five of their last seven games, and three of the team’s six wins have come against KenPom teams ranked 320th or worse. After shooting 38.6 percent on 158 three-point attempts during his first two years at Kansas State, Cartier Diarra is shooting just 25.5 percent on his 25 three-point attempts this season.

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What’s Trending: Tar Heel Troubles and a Tumbling Top 10

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on December 16th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

North Carolina has made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances over the past 16 seasons with Roy Williams as the head coach. After starting the season 6-1, however, the Tar Heels suffered back-to-back losses to start December. While the panic level remained relatively low heading into the weekend, that changed Sunday morning when the following news broke:

Without Cole Anthony, the team’s leading scorer, questions quickly arose about the Heels’ future. This is a team that, despite owning a top-50 adjusted offensive efficiency, ranks 297th or worse in two-point, three-point and free throw shooting percentages. Without Anthony in the lineup, North Carolina’s losing streak reached three games…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1206347619641036804?s=20

In the loss, North Carolina shot 38.6 percent from two-point range, 31.6 percent from three-point range, and just 60 percent at the line. The defeat brought out what would have been an unthinkable question prior the season. Might North Carolina miss the NCAA Tournament? While it is still just December, Williams is going to have to earn his paycheck — especially if his team is without Cole Anthony.

This past week was full of trouble for teams near the top of the rankings. A previously undefeated and #1 Louisville club had a midweek match-up against Texas Tech at Madison Square Garden. While Louisville’s 3-of-17 performance from deep did the Cardinals no favors, the storyline of the game came in the form of the surprise performance from Texas Tech’s Avery Benson.

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2019-20 RTC16: Week Four

Posted by Walker Carey on December 10th, 2019

Around this time in the calendar every season, a team grabs national attention for, not just piling up wins, but piling up those wins in a demonstrative manner. That team in this season is #2 Ohio State. The Buckeyes are now 9-0 after a 25-point win at North Carolina and a 32-point win over Penn State in its Big Ten opener. Since an eight-point win over Cincinnati in the first game of the year, Ohio State has won every one of its contests by at least 19 points. The most remarkable aspect of Chris Holtmann‘s group is how balanced it is, with six different players averaging at least eight points per game — led by junior big man Kaleb Wesson at 14.1 PPG and sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. at 11.4 PPG. The Buckeyes got off to a 12-1 start last season before fading down the stretch and needing a win in the Big Ten Tournament to comfortably earn an NCAA Tournament bid, so their hot start this season is not unprecedented. Having said that, there has been nothing about this season’s Ohio State team that suggests that another swoon in conference play is coming. The Buckeyes have established themselves as a terrific team that should be one everyone’s radars as a legitimate national title contender. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

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What’s Trending: Big Ten/ACC Challenge And More

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on December 9th, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

The month of December tipped-off with the ACC/Big Ten Challenge leading the way. Each league picked up a victory on the opening night of the challenge, which set up a big second day of action. Indiana moved to 8-0 after beating Florida State, with Devonte Green posting a career-high 30 points. Archie Miller’s squad shot a sterling 60 percent on two-point attempts and 46.7 percent on three-point attempts, both season-high marks for Seminoles’ opponents.

In a rematch of an NCAA Tournament game from last season, Duke headed to East Lansing to take on Michigan State. While the Blue Devils were without Cassius Stanley, they ran into no problems with the Spartans. Vernon Carey and Tre Jones combined to score 46 points on 14-of-29 shooting.

Some of Michigan State’s struggles come from the inconsistent play of sophomore Aaron Henry. After averaging 13.3 PPG through his first five contests, Henry has scored just nine points over the last two. Against Duke, Henry was held to two points on two field-goal attempts in just 21 minutes of action.

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The 2019-20 RTC16: Week Three

Posted by Walker Carey on December 3rd, 2019

It seems like every Feast Week there is a team or two that establishes itself as a legitimate national contender — that was no different this year as #2 Michigan and #5 Maryland both made it known that they will be forces to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. The previously unranked Wolverines put together the most impressive performance of Feast Week with a championship run at Battle 4 Atlantis, as Juwan Howard‘s squad magnificently ripped through Iowa State, #8 North Carolina, and #7 Gonzaga en route to the tournament title. It was fair to have concerns about Michigan this preseason, as legendary former coach John Beilein departed for the NBA and was replaced by Howard, who had no previous experience coaching college basketball. The Wolverines’ returning core has done a commendable job in fully easing those concerns, as senior point guard Zavier Simpson looks to be one of the best ball distributors in the country and former role players Eli Brooks, Isaiah Livers and Jon Teske have emerged as key pieces in an offensive attack that ranks third in the country. The Terrapins were also victorious in a Feast Week tournament, knocking off Temple, Harvard and Marquette en route to the Orlando Invitational title. The championship game was especially noteworthy, as Maryland’s defensive effort limited Marquette scoring machine Markus Howard to just six points in an 84-63 victory. The backcourt had led the way to its 8-0 start with Anthony Cowan Jr., Eric Ayala and Aaron Wiggins all averaging over 10 points per game. The Terrapins have had early season hype before in the Mark Turgeon era, and while that failed to materialize for a variety of reasons, this Maryland team — with its strong backcourt and solid interior play — appears like it should be able to buck that trend. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

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The 2019-20 RTC16: Week Two

Posted by Walker Carey on November 25th, 2019

It is not uncommon for teams breaking in new pieces to experience some peaks and valleys early in the season, but that does not appear to be the case thus far for #2 Duke and #6 Virginia. The mostly new-look Blue Devils rode a star in the making turn from freshman big man Vernon Carey Jr. to throttle California and survive an inspired effort from Georgetown at the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden this weekend. Carey was far and away Duke’s best player, contributing averages of 25.5 points and 11.0 rebounds to the winning efforts. With most of the scoring production from last season’s national championship squad now gone, Virginia has relied on its famous defensive intensity in its 6-0 start. The Cavaliers suffocated Massachusetts on Saturday en route to a 58-46 win, and then brought that vigor up another another level Sunday when they held Arizona State to just seven points over the final 11:33 in a plodding 48-45 victory. While Virginia’s offense still needs some work, it did receive a noteworthy contribution from freshman guard Casey Morsell, who tallied 19 points against the Sun Devils. This week’s Quick N’ Dirty after the jump.

Quick N’ Dirty Analysis.

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