07 December 2014

GAMBLE Report 2.01

December 7.  A date that will live in infamy.  Many will remember the 2014 anniversary as the date the first college foootball playoff bracket was announced, but that circus side show obscures the main event: the unveiling of the first GAMBLE Report for the 2015 season.

More than a year has passed since we published the first GAMBLE Report.  By now NU has made its way through 2/3rds of its cream-puff non-conference season and 1/4 of the entire 2015 schedule.  It's early still, but this seems to be as good a time as any to dig into our assessment of the progress being made under CCC.

For orientation, the first line of data are for the current 2015 season.  Reading from left to right, the kenpom rankings are shown for the team overall, the team's adjusted ORtg, the primary 4 factors for that ORtg, followed by the DRtg and finally by the four factors for DRtg.

This year, we will be using three benchmark comparisons: (1) last year, the first season of results for CCC as a head coach; (2) the star-crossed 2013 season -- which we frankly hope to drop before too long and will do so if/when CCC can put that anomalously low ranking well in his rear view; and (3) the NIT years.

The first thing to notice is that NU's team ranking is now #131.  Not only is this 54 rungs lower than where NU began when it tipped off against HBU, but it also is where NU finished in rankings the last two seasons.  Of course the #131 is also below the average #66 ranking that CBC achieved during the NIT years.  Those clamoring for progress this year must be either frustrated, in denial, or perhaps are patiently projecting a team that is going to be improving during the season.

The #207 AdjO is more than 100 rungs better than last year's woeful offense thanks to nearly across the board improvement in the four factors (all except TO%). While a 100 rung improvement may sound impressive it really isn't because 207 ain't good by any measure.  Furthermore it is still 56 rungs worse than the ill-fated 2013 offense and isn't even in the same zip code as the NIT offenses. In short CCC hasn't given us much reason to forget the days of the efficient CBC-coached Princeton Offense.  On the glass half-full side we do think it's a good sign that things are moving in the right direction on offense as CCC gets his guys onto the roster.

On the flipside the AdjD has come back to earth and regressed 72 rungs to #86 overall.  Looking at the four factors we see a mixed bag.  NU has had some improvement to its poor propensity in turning its opponents over, and NU's defensive rebounding is actually looking like a strength at the moment.  However the negatives are that NU's weak non-conf opponents have done better in terms of shooting percentages and getting to the charity stripe.  With this year's youth movement we had expected some regression to the defense, but our hope was to hold the line at #50 or so.  Currently the 2015 defense is about 50 rungs better than the 2013 defense and 85 rungs better than the NIT years.  Overall we're still seeing a big improvement over the CBC years.