Thursday, November 4, 2010

Basketball Prospectus Book Now Available

The Basketball Prospectus Book is finally here! If you are so inclined, please check it out. For the second straight year, I contributed to the conference previews. As I've noted previously, not everything that gets written can make it into the final publication. Here is something I wrote about Mississippi head coach Andy Kennedy that did not make it into the SEC preview because of space considerations:

While Andy Kennedy was Bob Huggins choice for a successor at Cincinnati, Andy Kennedy has not been the same caliber of coach as his mentor Bob Huggins. Based on six years of tempo free data for Bob Huggins and five years of tempo free data for Andy Kennedy, the data reveal a clear pattern. Huggins teams have been much more physical. Huggins’ teams dominate the offensive boards and force teams to send them to the free throw line, while Andy Kennedy’s do not. And Huggins’ teams play a level of tenacious defensive that Kennedy’s teams have not been able to match. While Huggins’ teams allow an average effective FG percentage against of only 46.1%, Andy Kennedy’s squads are much more forgiving, averaging 48.4% against. True, Andy Kennedy’s teams have been slightly better at ball-handling and shooting. But what Ole Miss fans have discovered is that they have a coach who is not nearly as dominant as his mentor.

When something like this does not make the cut, I think it should be apparent that there is plenty of quality analysis to be found within the 345 pages.

Bracket Luck

While I sneakily saved my most interesting summer project for my own blog, I did contribute an essay on Bracket Luck to the beginning of BP publication. Here is the premise:

We know Duke was placed in a fortunate region last year, but has Duke faced easier than expected opponent’s historically? We know Tom Izzo has exceeded expectations in the NCAA tournament, but how much is due to the hard work of his teams and how much is due to fortunate NCAA tournament draws?

The full article is found within the publication, but today I wanted to include a few hyperlinks and give the article a mini-preview. While everyone correctly emphasizes the importance of NCAA seeding, your NCAA path does not just depend on seeding. Who you play depends on regional slotting and how the bracket breaks in front of you as the tournament progresses. This is what I refer to as bracket luck. If you are looking for something similar, Neil Paine of the Sports Reference College Basketball Blog did a similar analysis using SRS data instead of the Pomeroy data. Paine focuses on whether teams were lucky in the year they won the NCAA title. I focus on bracket luck for all teams in all seasons that we have tempo free data. I calculate and show bracket luck in two ways:

-Which teams have faced easier than expected opponents as measured by average Pythagorean Winning Percentage? (Table 1)

-Which teams have faced easier than expected opponents as measured by the probability of winning, (i.e. expected wins)? (Table 4)

-Then I look at how often teams exceed expectations in the NCAA tournament (Table 5), and make a statement about how important bracket luck is to exceeding expectations.

I also include two other tables:

-Each team’s most fortunate NCAA opponent in the last 7 years. (Table 3)

-And an analysis of Michigan St.’s entire NCAA path over the last 7 years. (Table 2)

The essay is a bit table heavy. And the middle gets a little bogged down discussing one of the tables. But if you read to the end you'll learn why Table 1 and Table 4 do not always lead to the same conclusion. And you will learn the answer to the aforementioned question about Tom Izzo, whether you want to know that answer or not.