True Grit: BE Efficiency Margins vs BE Finish

Statistics taken from Statsheet.com, Bigeast.org

Efficiency Margin - defined as Points per Possession - Points per Possession Allowed - can seem like a flawed way of ranking teams, even for those with shared conference opponents. After all, blowout wins/ losses or a coach who loves to run up the score can skew efficiency margins away from the real difference between what the teams would score, with possessions held constant.

That's okay. This is only a fun exercise designed to look at which teams may have underperformed or overperformed in 2009-2010 according to their efficiency margin, given their teams' finish in Big East conference play last winter.

Really, it's most interesting to see whose finishes don't seem to match up with how well they scored and defended in conference play. Tomorrow, I'll look at a table of where teams finished relative to where the Big East coaches picked the team to finish... boy, were they off.

First, the teams in order of finish, their regular season in-conference efficiency margin, and how they finished relative to where efficiency margin would have placed them (so "where the numbers said they should finish" minus "where the team finished"). Read More for the table and analysis, below>>:


Teams/ Order of Finish
w
l
Margin
vs Margin Position
1
Syracuse
15
3
11.7
0
2
Pittsburgh
13
5
6.5
3
2
West Virginia
13
5
11.7
0
2
Villanova
13
5
8.3
1
5
Marquette
11
7
7.7
-1
5
Louisville
11
7
3.9
2
7
Notre Dame
10
8
3.2
1
7
Georgetown
10
8
5.4
-1
9
South Florida
9
9
-5.4
3
9
Seton Hall
9
9
-1.7
1
11
Cincinnati
7
11
-5.3
0
11
Connecticut
7
11
0.2
-2
13
St. John’s
6
12
-5.6
0
14
Rutgers
5
13
-16.6
2
15
Providence
4
14
-7.9
-1
16
DePaul
1
17
-16.0
-1

Of interest: If it wasn't Pitt, I would say they were very lucky to be tied for second place in the league when West Virginia may have been as good as Syracuse (I don't believe that, exactly, but it's food for thought). But perhaps Pitt's finish should have been more like Marquette's - another team of tough, scrappy players who didn't always dominate but always executed. Villanova is near that group as well. Curiously, to me; I thought they were much more explosive. The defensive issues, perhaps, brought down the Wildcats' efficiency margin.

Louisville finished 2 slots above where their efficiency margin indicated they should. Then again, they were a difficult team to understand last year - beating Syracuse twice, while getting barbecue smoked by St. John's and soul crushed by Marquette. Around the Cardinals were Georgetown and Notre Dame, a team that successfully dabbled in defense when Harangody was injured.

Then there are some strange sights on the wrong side of the bubble. There's a gap between Notre Dame and Connecticut, a team that should have broken even in the Big East. In a sudden collapse - and perhaps in some poor chemistry/ selfishness - the Huskies fell to 7-11, finding losses to Providence, Cincinnati, and South Florida. They weren't good, but they should have been better. The Huskies are the only team to fall more than 1 spot lower than their efficiency margin would indicate.

Meanwhile, South Florida is one of the reasons I am going through this list. Don't know if anyone noticed, but the in-conference efficiency margin indicates they should have had a losing record. And it wasn't just the beatdowns by Syracuse, St. John's, and Villanova. It was the close wins against Seton Hall, TWICE against Providence, and a close victory against DePaul.

In that bubble area, the Cincinnati Bearcats and St. John's Red Storm were who we thought they were; Seton Hall was as well. At the bottom, Providence and gritty DePaul should have finished better than Rutgers, woeful Rutgers, a team that helped inflate scoring totals for many teams. Curiously, they had a competitive streak against Notre Dame and Georgetown, and enjoyed their biggest in-conference margin of victory against the Red Storm (which is when I started actively crossing my fingers for a coaching change). But Rutgers should have been worst in the conference.

Many of these concepts will come up when I do my Big East league preview. Tomorrow, I'll take a look at how the teams fared against the coaches' predictions.


Note on the postseason: Last year, 8 Big East teams went to the NCAA Tournament - Syracuse (regular season champion), West Virginia (Big East Tournament Winner), Villanova, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Georgetown. Louisville, and Notre Dame.

South Florida, the Seton Hall Nut-Punchers, Cincinnati, Connecticut, and St. John's all played in the NIT.

Rutgers, Providence, and DePaul started their offseasons early.

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