Monday, March 17, 2008

File under: Shocking but true

Walking around campus (and this message board) today, there seems to be a relative dismissal of Siena by the large majority of students. Some of them (including Sports VU's own Eric Silver and the enigmatic but feisty "Bill") may even know a thing or two about college basketball. Let me just preface by saying I believe Vanderbilt will beat Siena. Would I bet on that, probably not. But I really do think they'll win. Regardless of whether or not they beat Siena, however, the numbers game presents some interesting data for Siena and beyond.

Efficiency ratings, provided here courtesy of John Gasaway over at Basketball Prospectus, are pretty down on Vandy, and have been all year.

Through games of March 9, conference games only

Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession
Opp. PPP: opponent points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP - Opp. PPP)

Connecticut 67.7 1.11 1.02 +0.09
Washington St. 58.5 1.09 1.01 +0.08
Pitt 64.7 1.09 1.05 +0.04
Vanderbilt 68.4 1.05 1.03 +0.02
Even compared to the rest of the "down" SEC, they don't stack up particularly favorably. Using final conference statistics (tournament not included):
1.  Tennessee        71.6    1.10    0.97   +0.13
2. Mississippi St. 66.9 1.05 0.95 +0.10
3. Arkansas 69.0 1.03 0.98 +0.05
4. Vanderbilt 68.0 1.06 1.03 +0.03
5. Florida 68.8 1.09 1.07 +0.02
Of the four #4 seeds, Vanderbilt has the lowest efficiency rating of the bunch. The conference stats seem to suggest Vandy would be 4th in the SEC pecking order, an assumption that has eerily proved to be correct as the end of the conference season played out. 2 losses to Arkansas and a 1 point OT victory over Miss St. at home in one of the greatest (and probably THE greatest) individual performances of the year.

Knowing this, it should also be no surprise that of the teams on the four line, our beloved Commodores debuted as the smallest favorite in Vegas (per Bookmaker)

Washington St. (-8.5) vs Winthrop
Vanderbilt (-7.5) vs Siena
Pitt (-10.5) vs Oral Roberts
Connecticut (-11.5) vs San Diego

The obvious point here is that they are still a solid favorite, but overrated nonetheless.

For more reading, be sure to check out what Jacob of Vegas Watch and Luke Winn of SI have to say on the topic...

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