Big Ten Basketball Efficiency Margin

thePhilipJFry's picture
January 16, 2014 at 12:21p

I really miss John Gasaway.  ESPN hired him and put all of his stuff behind a paywall and now I never get my Tuesday Truths.  Tuesday Truths was when Gasaway would look at every team’s points per possession offensively and defensively during conference play and rank them by margin.  Since ESPN has taken this away from me, I decided to do it on my own.  I may add to this in the future by including turnovers and offensive rebounding percentage as well as a scheduling balance component.

  pace offense defense margin
Wisconsin 64.5 1.23 1.02 0.210
Michigan 58.2 1.24 1.04 0.199
Michigan State 65.6 1.11 0.93 0.185
Iowa 69.1 1.14 0.96 0.178
Ohio State 70.6 1.08 1.01 0.070
Purdue 64.9 1.09 1.08 0.013
Illinois 67.6 1.00 1.04 -0.036
Minnesota 65.2 1.09 1.14 -0.048
Indiana 67.3 1.08 1.13 -0.049
Penn State 65.2 1.00 1.13 -0.129
Nebraska 64.8 0.94 1.13 -0.185
Northwestern 59.6 0.86 1.14 -0.284

You can see the top 4 have clearly separated themselves from the pack.  I don’t know if Michigan is really there.  Their schedule so far includes only 4 of the bottom 5 teams and their efficiency margin was earned almost entirely in two home court wins over Penn State and Northwestern.  Their upcoming stretch of at Wisconsin, versus Iowa and at Michigan State should tell us where they belong. 

Wisconsin thus far in Big Ten play is attempting 34 free throws a game at home, and 7 free throws per game on the road.  I guess that’s just the Kohl Center difference.  Almost certainly that difference won’t remain all season, but it gets you close to understanding why Fran flipped out.

As for Ohio State who finds themselves all alone yet somehow in the middle, Ken Pomeroy’s numbers have the Ohio State defensive unit as the best in the country.  Through four games in Big Ten play they are above average, but trail MSU and Iowa.  Ohio State has only themselves to blame for this as they allowed 1.2 points per possession to Iowa while handing over the ball 17 times one game after committing 21 turnovers against MSU.  Those turnovers not only make the Ohio State offense bad, they make the opponents defense look good.

After I wrote this, Gasaway tweeted that his Tuesday Truths will be posted on his website starting next week.  He posted a preview where his numbers for the Big Ten are different than mine.  Since points scored are more fact than a subject of debate, this must come down to number of possessions.  I used Dean Oliver’s formula of pos = fga – or + to + 0.4 * fta.  I suspect Gasaway is just counting possessions off the play by play data.

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