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Archive for the 'NCAA' Category

High School Recruiting Ranking vs. NBA Success

3rd August 2011

High school recruiting rankings, particularly the historical variety, have long fascinated me. There's something really interesting about looking back at them with the benefit of hindsight, and comparing a player's actual career trajectory to that which was predicted when he was just 18 years old.

With that idea in mind, I put together this post to see how often players of a certain ranking end up with a certain type of NBA career. For every player, I classified them in one of six categories:

  • Superstar - Either made 1st-team All-NBA or was Top-5 in MVP voting at least once in his career
  • All-Star - Made an All-Star roster at least once in his career
  • Starter - Finished top-5 on a team in games started at least once in his career
  • Regular - Not a starter, but played at least half of a team's games in a season at least once in his career
  • Scrub - Not a regular, but played at least 1 NBA game in his career
  • Did Not Play - Never played an NBA game

I then looked at the recruiting rankings on this site, gathering the data from 1998-2003 ('03 being the final HS class for which you can reasonably say every player has been given a full chance to reach his NBA potential -- if a guy hasn't made it by now, it's probably never going to happen). Based on their national prospect rankings coming out of high school, how many players ended up in each category in the NBA?

Rank Did Not Play Scrub Regular Starter All-Star Superstar
1-5 16% 10% 16% 35% 16% 6%
6-10 38% 10% 10% 31% 7% 3%
11-25 46% 16% 16% 19% 2% 0%
26-50 70% 9% 7% 12% 2% 0%
51-100 82% 5% 7% 5% 1% 0%
Rank Did Not Play Scrub Regular Starter All-Star Superstar
Top5 16% 10% 16% 35% 16% 6%
Top10 27% 10% 13% 33% 12% 5%
Top25 38% 14% 15% 25% 6% 2%
Top50 54% 12% 11% 18% 4% 1%
Top100 68% 9% 9% 12% 2% 1%

This is a sobering reminder of how elite the NBA's talent level really is.

Even if you're one of the 100 best high school players in all of America, there's almost a 70% chance you never play in the NBA, and almost an 80% chance that, at best, you'll be a journeyman scrub who doesn't play regularly. And while top-5 talents have a decent probability of being an NBA starter or better (58%), after that the drop-off is steep: 41% for players ranked 6-10, 21% for #11-25, 14% for #26-50, and only 6% for players ranked outside the top 50 (including just a 1% chance of being an All-Star).

Not to harsh the mellow of any budding BMOCs out there, but the typical top prospect's NBA career is, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and short.

For the full list of recruits used in the study (and the categories they fell into), click here.

Posted in Analysis, NCAA, Prospects | 30 Comments »

The Unlikeliest Final Four

28th March 2011

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

Just how unlikely is this year's Final Four of Kentucky, UConn, Virginia Commonwealth, and Butler?

Well, going by one measure, the odds of it happening were 0.00003% -- only two entries (out 5.9 million) correctly picked the four teams in's Bracket Challenge. But I decided to see how this year's improbable group matched up against other inexplicable Final Fours since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Here were the Final Fours with the highest average seed # since then:

Year Team A Seed Team B Seed Team C Seed Team D Seed Avg #1s
2011 KEN 4 CONN 3 VCU 11 BUTL 8 6.50 0
2000 UNC 8 FLA 5 WISC 8 MICS 1 5.50 1
2006 GEOM 11 FLA 3 LSU 4 UCLA 2 5.00 0
1986 KAN 1 DUKE 1 LSU 11 LOU 2 3.75 2
1992 IND 2 DUKE 1 MICH 6 CIN 4 3.25 1
2010 MICS 5 BUTL 5 WVIR 2 DUKE 1 3.25 1
1985 STJO 1 GTWN 1 VILL 8 MEM 2 3.00 2
1990 ARKA 4 DUKE 3 GEOT 4 UNLV 1 3.00 1
1996 MIST 5 SYRA 4 UMAS 1 KEN 1 2.75 2
2005 LOU 4 ILL 1 MICS 5 UNC 1 2.75 2

Aside from 2011, two other years stand out at the top of the list: 2000, when two 8-seeds crashed the Final Four, and 2006, when no #1 seeds made it (but George Mason did). In terms of pre-tournament likelihood, how do those years stack up to 2011?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, History, NCAA, Statgeekery | 7 Comments »

CBB: Which Coaches’ Teams Underperform Their Seeds?

21st March 2011

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

Watching Texas and Pitt destroy my bracket for what seems like the fifth or sixth time in the last 10 years, I was compelled to ask: is it just perception, or do Rick Barnes' and Jamie Dixon's teams always significantly underachieve in the NCAA Tournament?

Luckily, I can answer that question two ways. The first is to look at every NCAA Tourney game since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and measure the probability of a team winning any game based on the seeds of the two teams involved. The logistic regression formula, based on 1,686 games (including Sunday's results), is this:

Expected W% ~ =1 / (1 + EXP(0.1738176 * Seed Diff))

Where Seed Diff is simply the team's seed # minus the opponent's seed #. For instance, when a 4-seed plays a 5-seed, as Texas did Sunday, their seed difference is (4 - 5) = -1, which yields an expected win % of 54.3%. And when a 1-seed (like Pitt) plays an 8-seed (like Butler), the seed difference is -7, giving an expected W% of 77.1%.

Anyway, add all up of these expected wins for every coach's NCAA career, compare to his actual wins, and you can see which coaches have disappointed the most over their post-1985 careers:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, NCAA, Statgeekery | 17 Comments »

Layups: Tons of March Madness Goodness from Slate

16th March 2011

Lots of good NCAA Tournament links to throw Slate Magazine's way this week...

First, here's Ken Pomeroy (him again!) on why the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is a terrible metric for the committee to use when picking the field of 64 68. Like the hated BCS formula, it doesn't use margin of victory, thus discarding a great deal of key information about relative team strengths. Worse yet, it weighs a team's strength of schedule three times as heavily as its W-L%, making the teams you play more important to your ranking than whether you actually beat them.

Next, we have a great piece by Chris Wilson that (unfortunately) gives away the big secret of winning an NCAA pool: go by the numbers on the majority of your bracket, but be sure to choose a contrarian champion. This is why I'm picking Texas to win -- of all the non-#1 seeds, the Longhorns captured the most titles in my 10,000-bracket simulation. Then again, that strategy is nullified if you play with other people who know it, so be wary of how savvy your pool-mates are.

Finally, Justin Peters researched the most popular majors among players on this year's Tourney teams. Turns out that basketball players "tend to choose majors that emphasize leadership, teamwork, and communication—basically, everything you'd need to successfully execute the flex offense." This is probably why, as Peters writes, business was the runaway #1 when it came to player majors.

Posted in Layups, NCAA | 1 Comment »

2011 NCAA Tournament Game Previews

15th March 2011

To get you prepared for the matchups in this year's NCAA Tournament, we now have printable game previews at SR/College Basketball:

Game Previews | College Basketball at

Each preview contains key information about both teams, including SRS ratings; offensive and defensive ratings; and player statistics from the 2010-11 season. Check them out, and increase your knowledge when watching the games this month!

Posted in Announcements, Layups, NCAA | Comments Off on 2011 NCAA Tournament Game Previews

Layups: Gelf Magazine’s ‘Bracketless Bracket’

14th March 2011

Here's an interesting take on a March Madness pool from Gelf Magazine:

The Bracketless Bracket | Gelf Magazine

The premise is simple: everyone picks exactly one team at each seed #. You get 100 points when your 1-seed wins, 110 when your 2-seed wins, and so on and so forth up to 250 for a 16-seed win (hey, it has to happen eventually). It's pretty clever because in addition to testing on your ability to pick games, it also calls on your sense of who the committee over- or under-rated relative to the other teams at the same seed (hello, Utah State!).

Posted in Layups, NCAA | 3 Comments »

Ten Thousand 2011 NCAA Tournaments

14th March 2011

Using Ken Pomeroy's ratings and the log5 formula, I set up a Monte Carlo Simulation and ran the 2011 NCAA Tournament 10,000 times. Here was the most likely bracket:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Analysis, NCAA, Statgeekery | 12 Comments »

Layups: Conference Tournament Win Probabilities

1st March 2011

If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know that Ken Pomeroy's is one of my favorite college basketball websites (just a notch below CBB @ Sports-Reference, of course). So it's great to see that Ken will once again be using his ratings to generate win probabilities for each conference tournament (and the NCAA tourney) over the next few weeks. You can find all of those posts at the Basketball Prospectus Unfiltered Blog, but to start you off, here are the odds for some of the early tournaments:

Let log5 season begin (Big South and Horizon)

Log5: A-Sun, OVC, and Patriot

Posted in Layups, NCAA, Statgeekery | Comments Off on Layups: Conference Tournament Win Probabilities

Layups: Check Out These College Basketball Resources

1st February 2011

It's February now, and with the NCAA Tournament starting in 42 days, you probably need to study up on college basketball.

That means it's time for my annual plug of Ken Pomeroy's amazing NCAA advanced stats site. It serves as a great companion to our own College Basketball at S-R site, where you can grab the conventional numbers and get a big dose of NCAA history.

Together, those two sites should serve as vital weaponry in your bracket battles next month.

Posted in Layups, NCAA, Statgeekery | 1 Comment »

Layups: NCAA-Record 19 Grinnell Players Hit 3-Pointers in a Game

3rd December 2010

This layup comes courtesy of S-R president Sean Forman, who wanted me to give a shout-out to his alma mater Grinnell College for setting an NCAA record -- namely, the record for most players to make at least one 3-pointer in a single game. They had 19 different guys make a three in their 137-103 rout of Faith Baptist Bible College, going 29-for-88 from downtown in the game. Apparently they had the record in sight at halftime:

"The Pioneers play a rotation with three shifts of five players, and shift changes on the first whistle after 35 seconds. Ahead 88-38 at the half, [Grinnell coach David] Arseneault told his team to go for the record.

'Nobody in the stands knew what we were doing,' he said. 'There were times when someone would have a wide-open layup and then just dribble past the basket and pass the ball out. People were looking at us like, "What is he doing?"'"

Posted in Layups, NCAA | 5 Comments »