Big East Basketball efficiency margins, 2/28/11

The Big East season is coming to a close, and there is a clusterspork of teams battling for the middle and for the byes in the Big East conference tournament - a double-bye for the top four teams, and a single bye for the next four teams.

Ignoring the permutations for the tiebreakers, only Georgetown is completely out of the running for the double bye at 10-7 with only one more game to play; only Pittsburgh has clinched a top four position.

Nine teams are vying for position, using all their best box out tricks (but hopefully not Reggie Evans' best tricks).

Tickets for the Big East tourney are going to be hard to come by if you haven't bought them already, and it should be pretty exciting. How do the teams stack up? This version of the Big East efficiency margins will take a look at the movements of the league, the mess in the middle, St. John's recent surge, Villanova's recent doldrums, and TABLES! below the fold.

As you may know, offensive and defensive efficiency are tempo-neutral measures of what a team has scores/ allowed, adjusted to a baseline of per 100 possessions. This helps us properly compare offenses of teams who shoot in a Pitino-esque 15 seconds or teams like West Virginia, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh, who hold the ball until it begs to be shot and put out of its misery. (I like slow basketball, myself.)

Team
W
L
Pos/G
O Eff
D Eff
Eff Margin
Pittsburgh
13
3
63.1
111.0
97.1
13.9
Notre Dame
12
4
63.4
111.1
105.0
6.1
Marquette
9
7
66.8
110.9
104.9
6.0
Louisville
11
5
67.0
103.3
97.9
5.4
Syracuse
11
6
65.1
105.5
100.5
5.0
West Virginia
9
7
61.9
105.7
101.0
4.7
Villanova
9
7
65.7
108.5
103.9
4.6
Cincinnati
9
7
63.3
101.8
99.0
2.8
St. John's
11
5
65.8
101.6
99.6
2.0
Connecticut
9
7
66.9
102.6
100.7
1.9
Georgetown
10
7
62.8
105.1
103.6
1.5
Seton Hall
5
11
67.3
93.4
98.4
-5.0
Rutgers
4
12
64.2
99.8
108.0
-8.2
Providence
3
13
72.4
100.9
110.2
-9.3
South Florida
3
13
63.8
98.8
109.0
-10.2
DePaul
1
15
67.1
96.7
116.1
-19.4

The bottom is pretty much the same as it was two weeks ago, though St. John's has moved up into the positive side of the ledger - it's been a very good month (more on that below). Around Valentine's Day, Notre Dame and Villanova looked to be the league's second-tier elites.

Now there is hardly much in the way of elite... and Marquette is third in efficiency margin ranking. How? Hints of defense against an opponent that struggles to score (Seton Hall), good defense against an opponent that cannot defend (Providence) and a solid win over Connecticut.

This week, I'm adding a look at how the offenses/ defenses have changed in the past 2 weeks. The "Diff 2/15" column shows the movement, positive or negative, of the team's efficiency margin. Offensive change is good if positive, but defensive change is good if negative. Makes sense?

Here's the table:

Team
Eff Margin
Diff, 2/15
Off Change
Def Change
Pittsburgh
13.9
-1.7
-2.4
-0.7
Notre Dame
6.1
-1.6
-0.2
1.4
Marquette
6.0
1.4
-2.0
-3.4
Louisville
5.4
1.5
-2.7
-4.2
Syracuse
5.0
0.7
0.1
-0.6
West Virginia
4.7
0.5
0.5
0.0
Villanova
4.6
-3.3
-3.6
-0.3
Cincinnati
2.8
2.4
0.7
-1.7
St. John's
2.0
5.9
3.3
-2.6
Connecticut
1.9
-1.2
0.0
1.2
Georgetown
1.5
-2.9
-2.2
0.7
Seton Hall
-5.0
-1.6
-1.2
0.4
Rutgers
-8.2
-2.1
-2.7
-0.6
Providence
-9.3
-1.4
0.9
2.3
South Florida
-10.2
1.3
1.7
0.4
DePaul
-19.4
2.8
0.1
-2.7

DePaul's defense is improving! Signs of life! The really interesting notes to make here is in St. John's sudden surge, improving on offense and on defense, despite only having one bottom-feeder game (against DePaul), which doesn't skew their results - they've been legitimately beastly in recent weeks, which I will talk about more in the coming week.

On the other hand, both Villanova and Georgetown's offenses are struggling. Even before the Chris Wright injury, the Hoyas weren't making the ladies faint with their offensive efficiency... they've only played one game since, so it's hard to say just how swoony the latest Hoya struggles will be.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats had a few games without stalwart guard Corey Stokes, and it showed. But there's more than that - the offense is misfiring for Villanova, and the defense is doing its part... but is that enough?

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