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Archive for the 'NCAA' Category

CBB: R.I.P. John Wooden (1910-2010)

5th June 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

When the great John Wooden passed away on Friday at the age of 99, he left behind a staggering resume, arguably the most dominant winning legacy of any coach in any sport. Wooden won 10 championships at the helm of the UCLA Bruins during the 1960s and 70s, including an astonishing run of 7 straight titles from 1967-73; in the annals of basketball history, the only coach whose run of dominance is even on par with Wooden's is his NBA contemporary, Red Auerbach. Of course, Wooden was more than just a great coach -- and I'll leave the kind words about Wooden as a human being (of which there are many) to better writers than I -- but I did want to take a statistical look at just how amazing his coaching career was.

Exactly how impressive was Wooden's run in the 60s and early 70s? One measure of coaching greatness is the ability to resist the "pull of parity" -- since a .500 record relentlessly tugs at good teams and bad ones alike, drawing them inexorably toward the mean if given enough seasons, sustained greatness like Wooden's suggests a significant amount of skill. In the NCAA Tournament era (1939-present), we can quantify the pull of parity on any school thusly:

Expected Win % = 0.235 + 0.552*Previous Season Win %

This means that a team that won 88% of its games last year (for instance, Duke in 2010) should only expect to win 72% of its games next year, because parity wants to drag them toward .500. The assumption we're going to use is that if Duke ends up winning more than 72% of their games, it would be an indicator of Mike Krzyzewski's coaching skill.

So back to Coach Wooden... Here's his career coaching record, alongside his school's expected Win % every year, and the number of wins by which he exceeded that expectation:

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Posted in Analysis, History, NCAA | 10 Comments »

CBB: Duke 2010 — “Easy” Road?

6th April 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

Prior to the 2010 tournament, many media pundits felt that Duke had the easiest bracket of any #1 seed, despite Kansas actually being the top overall seed in the field. If no upsets happened, Duke would have to go through AP #9 Villanova to reach the Final Four; by comparison, Kansas would have to go through #5 Ohio State, Syracuse would have to go through #7 K-State, and Kentucky would have to go through #6 West Virginia.

As the tournament progressed, the only upset that happened along Duke's path was #3 Baylor reaching the Regional Final instead of Villanova, who had been picked off by Saint Mary's (CA). This meant that instead of #9 'Nova, Duke actually only had to go through the 19th-ranked Bears to reach Indy. Once they reached the Final Four, they found #6 West Virginia waiting for them, and in the Championship Game the Blue Devils had to beat #11 Butler, whom they only topped by 2 when a pair of shots by Gordon Hayward each missed by mere inches. So you can see why some are reacting to Duke's crown today with criticism that they faced one of the easiest roads to a championship in NCAA history. But is this true? Was Duke's path to glory really devoid of potholes along the way? And if so, how does 2010 Duke compare to other past champions who had more grueling roads?

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Posted in NCAA, Statgeekery | 2 Comments »

CBB: How Often Does the Nation’s Best Team Win the National Championship?

31st March 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

In a variation on a running theme (one that's especially pertinent given the early departures of Syracuse, Kansas, & Kentucky from this year's tourney), I wanted to know how often the "best" (i.e., most talented, most dominant over the entire season, etc.) team wins the NCAA Tournament. We know that the NFL's best team wins the Super Bowl about 24% of the time, that the best team in baseball wins the World Series about 29% of the team (or at least, they did back in the 1980s when Bill James studied the issue), and that the NBA's best team wins the Finals almost half of the time... So what's your guess for college basketball?

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Posted in NCAA, SRS, Statgeekery | 5 Comments »

CBB: Best Final Four Fields (1980-2010)

30th March 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

With Baylor and Tennessee in contention for a pair of Final Four slots on Sunday, we had the possibility of a Butler-West Virginia-Baylor-Tennessee group emerging from the regional finals, which would have been perhaps the least storied Final Four in recent history. Alas, Michigan State and Duke, two of the more successful schools of all time, crashed the Final Four party -- but they also left us with an eclectic 4-team group that will provide ample storylines over the coming week. How does this year's crop compare to past Final Fours in terms of the talent of the teams involved? Let's take a look:

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Posted in NCAA, SRS, Statgeekery | 1 Comment »

The Real Field of 64?

16th March 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

As much fun as the next few weeks will be, I think we can all acknowledge that the NCAA Tournament field does not represent the 64 best D-I basketball teams in the country (nor does it represent the 64 most "accomplished" teams in the land, however you want to define that). Automatic bids to teams from small conferences give the tourney a feeling of equality and tiny schools a chance to shine on a big stage, but the most talented team in the NIT field would still be favored by a wide margin against many of the NCAA Tourney's lower seeds. I'm not complaining about this reality, mind you, and I certainly don't begrudge the NCAA for giving an opportunity to small-conference and mid-major teams. But do you ever wonder what the NCAA field would look like if it did only include the 64 "best" or "most accomplished" teams in the nation?

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Posted in NCAA | 4 Comments »

BBR March Madness Pool 2010

15th March 2010

My colleague Doug Drinen of Pro-Football-Reference runs one of these things every year, and this time he's offered to keep track of scoring updates for a pool of our own here at BBR, which is awesome. First prize is I will do a post on the NBA player or team/season of your choice. Oh, and also honor and glory. What follows are Doug's rules:

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Posted in Just For Fun, NCAA | 39 Comments »

CBB: NCAA Tournament First Impressions

15th March 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

Some random thoughts on the 2010 bracket...

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Posted in NCAA | 6 Comments »

Changing the Culture II

11th March 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site. All of the data used here can be found at S-R/CBB, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

On Tuesday, I kicked off our CBB/BBR cross-posting series by looking at coaches who "changed the culture" of a program, guys whose winning percentages at a school far exceeded its mark before they arrived. The usual suspects were at the top of the list (John Wooden, Jim Calhoun, etc.), and so was John Calipari for his performance at UMass during the 90s. Trouble is, did Coach Cal really change the Minutemen forever? Or, as BBR reader "Downpuppy" put it:

"UMass is on the list twice, but both times the culture snapped back to mediocrity pretty quick."

OK, so maybe a "culture change" has to extend beyond the coach's actual tenure with the school, and also into the tenures of later coaches, who build on their successor's changes to take the school to new heights. After all, it's not really a true culture change if the program only loses the stench of mediocrity for 5 years while a coach uses the school as a stepping stone to his next gig.

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Posted in NCAA | 5 Comments »

CBB: Changing the Culture

9th March 2010

Note: This post was originally published at College Basketball Reference, S-R's brand-new College Hoops site. All of the data used here can be found at S-R/CBB, so when you're done reading, go over and check it out!

In the media, you often hear about certain players or coaches "changing the culture" of a program, ostensibly meaning they fostered a new atmosphere in the locker room, installed a new playing style, or gave their players newfound confidence in themselves. But has anyone measured which coaches "changed the culture" of a school's hoops program the most?

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Posted in NCAA, Statgeekery | 5 Comments »

Introducing College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com

25th February 2010

I am pleased to announce the launch of College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com, the latest addition to the Sports Reference family of web sites. We have had plans to launch a college basketball site for quite some time, but for one reason or another we always ran into roadblocks, most of them data-related. However, thanks to the efforts of researcher extraordinaire Kevin Johnson, we now have a college basketball database that we believe to be second-to-none. Let me tell you a little bit about what the site does (and doesn't) have:

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Posted in Announcements, NCAA | 5 Comments »