30 January 2014

Dusting off the CCR Statistics

You know that we at Carmody Court love us some efficiency statistics as much as the next geeky NU sports fanatic.  But while efficiency statistics are insightful and an improvement over some of the traditional statistics cited by coaches and talking heads alike (i.e., the dreaded rebound margin) the efficiency statistics aren't the statistical holy grail in our view.  For we know not all 1.00 PPP defensive efficiencies are alike.  Nor are all 1.00 PPP offensive efficiencies for that matter.  That is because these statistics don't take into account some very relevant factors such as opponent strength and where the game is played.

We first dug deeper into the efficiency statistics during the 2010-11 season and continued with the analysis for the 2011-12 season.  We shelved in our 2012-13 because it was rather meaningless given the trainwreck of a season that resulted from all the personnel losses.

With the 2013-14 season taking a turn upward and the NIT now a topic of discussion among NU fans we figured it would be a good time to dust off the analysis to see what we can glean about this NU team

We labeled this in-depth efficiency analysis the Carmody Court Ratio (or "CCR").  Essentially the CCR takes NU's PPP efficiency data from each game and adjusts them for (1) opponent strength and (2) home court advantage.  For the former we use the opponent's PPP data within B1G play and for the latter we convert the Sagarin home court advantage data into a PPP and allocate it 50/50 to offense/defense.   In so doing the hope is to put into better context what, say, the NU offense's 0.956 PPP at Wisconsin on Wednesday really says about how NU's offense performed in that game.


The first thing to notice about the NU defense's CCR statistic within B1G play (the "B1G CCR-D") is that the dotted trend line is significantly positive with a slope of 0.0424.  What that means is that over the course of B1G play NU's defense -- as adjusted for opponent strength and game location -- has improved from game-to-game by 0.0424 PPP.

For instance the trend line is about -0.1 PPP for the first game against Wisconsin.  That says when B1G play began that NU's defense was about -0.1 PPP worse than an average B1G team.  At the other end of the chart is the game at Wisconsin by which time the trendline is about +0.2 PPP.  That is over the course of 9 B1G games NU's defense has improved by 0.3 PPP.

The stat heads will be please to know that the analysis passes the F-test with flying colors and the t-statistic is significant at a 90% confidence level.

Of course this trendline can not continue.  If it were then NU's defense would be outperforming the average B1G defense by 0.6 PPP by the end of the season.  This is preposterous so at some point soon the trendline will flatten.  All that being said this analysis given tangible support for what we all know: NU's defense has turned a corner and is for real.

Since this is the first CCR analysis of this season we feel compelled to highlight some of the individual game statistics.  The first thing to jump out at us is that the narrative of NU defense suddenly turned on a switch starting with the Illini game is not so clean cut.  During the "pre-switch" days NU's defense did stink against Wisconsin and at Iowa, but it did perform like an average B1G defense at Michigan (+0.005 PPP).  Post-switch NU's defense has performed remarkably well, but there is the hiccup against Iowa in which NU's defense underperformed relative to the average B1G defense by 0.086 PPP.

So in summary it is true that NU's defense has improved significantly but it's not like we can expect there to not be any defensive hiccups the rest of the season (e.g., Minnesota's press may turn into easy Gopher points and wreak havoc on NU's defensive stats).


The NU offense's CCR statistic within B1G play (the "B1G CCR-O") is also noteworthy.  The nearly flat slope and statistical insignificance of the dotted trend line says that not much has happened with NU's offense during B1G play.  And the fact that that the solid line has been below zero for each of the nine games confirms what we already know: that NU's offense stinks.

NU's best offensive performance came at Iowa when it "only" underperformed an average B1G offense by 0.028 PPP.  The next "best" performance came on Wednesday at Wisconsin when NU underperformed by 0.069 PPP.  Other than those two games NU's offense has underperformed the average B1G offense by at least 0.135 PPP.  That's really sad.

 Overall B1G CCR

The story with NU's combined offense and defense CCR statistic within B1G play (the "B1G CCR") is similar to that of the B1G CCR-D.  What he see is a significantly positive and statistically significant trend line. That is heartening.

The biggest difference between the B1G CCR and B1G CCR-D is that the former's statistics are weighed down by the offense to such an extent that NU overall has played better than the average B1G team in just two games: @Indiana and @Wisconsin.  That "feels" right to us because while the wins over the Illini and Boilers were nice they just didn't jazz us up like the upsets at Indiana and even more so at Wisconsin. 

What's also interesting to us about this analysis is that the game against Iowa was the second worst of the year.  Only the opening home loss to Wisconsin -- of which we should never speak of again -- was worse.  That confirms why we were so downtrodden after both losses.

Lastly we note that the trend line has passed into positive territory.  This is consistent with NU's slightly above average sixth spot in the B1G standings.  Yes it's just a silly coincidence but we still like the narrative nonetheless. 

GAMBLE Report 1.18

NU 65 @Wisconsin(#14) 56

OMGz!!!!!!   We're changing the name of this blog to Collins Court!!!!!!!!!!!!!  For realzzzzzzzzzzz.

NU trailed Wisconsin 22-23 at halftime at The Kohl.  That was promising.  The first nine minutes of the second half were more or less a continuation of the first half with the score 34-35 at the 11:00 mark.  We thought to ourselves: "we'll take it!"

Then all hell broke loose.  And by hell we mean the lid that's been over NU's offensive basket for the past two months was lifted.  Out of thin air the NU offense ignited and went on a 20 to 4 run over the next seven minutes.  This run turned the narrow one point deficit into a 54-39 romp with less than four minutes to play!  During this improbable stretch NU went 8-11 from the field including 4-5 from downtown!  Conversely the Badgers shot 0-9 from the field including 0-5 from deep. 

Most of the damage during this pivotal stretch was done by game MVP Drew Crawford.  Tre Demps also did what he does during the second half.  JerShon pitched in as is to be expected.  Even Alex Olah got into the act when he rattle in a rare three-pointer!

Despite the 15 point margin and 99%+ win probability there were still some Maalox Moments for NU fans.  The last three minutes of the game were desperation mode for the Badgers.  They went full court press and turned NU over SEVEN TIMES in just a little over two minutes.  It was Illinois game deja vu time all over again!

Inexplicably CCC did not put in his best ball handlers during this stretch.  Hey Coach...  We get that you built the lead with Sobo permanently glued to the bench.  But dontcha think it would be a good idea to get a PG in there against the press?!?!?!?  It's not like Sobo has struggled from the FT stripe this year either.  Bonehead move to keep Sobo on the bench.

The Badgers took advantage and whittled down that 15 point lead to just a 6 point deficit at 62-56.  If Josh Gasser had expected Traveon Jackson's pass to him beyond the arc and drained the three pointer the NU lead would've been just four points with about 20 seconds to play.

Alas crisis was averted as fate smiled on NU and Jackson's pass sailed into the stands.  Crawford iced the game with two free throws to extend the score to the final tally.


The stunning upset had a profound effect on the GAMBLE Report.  For the first time since B1G play began NU's Pomeroy rating is better than where NU ended the 2013 season.  With the 30(!!!) spot leap up the rankings NU is now ranked #118 which is 14 rungs above last year.  We hope this continues so that we can refocus our attention to the NIT years where CBC had the program before the anomalous 2013 campaign.

That second half outburst helped to improve the adjO statistic for the first time in B1G play.  Yes it was only a four spot improvement to #320 in the land but beggars can't be choosers!  A 13 rung jump in eFG% was responsible for the overall improvement -- the other three factors all worsened somehow.

The adjD continues to defy gravity.  NU is up another six spots to #11 in the land.  That's right.  Not #11 in the B1G where we've seen NU over the CBC years all too often.  This is a national comparison!!!  Behind the improvement was a 16 rung leap in eFG% and a 12 rung leap in OR%.  This is heady stuff!!!  NU is a bunch of tough nuts as Keith Jackson might say!


Even with the upset the story stays mostly the same within B1G play.    The offense remains mired in the B1G basement while the defense is upwardly mobile while bumping around in the middle of the overall rankings from game to game.

We do have one new piece of good news to report.  Overall NU's Pomeroy rating is now better than it was in 2013.  In fact NU's rating would be good enough for 10th in last year's B1G. That NU is still ranked 12th in B1G is a testament to just how competitive the B1G is this year from top to bottom.


NU travels to Minneapolis.  While we are becoming increasingly gun shy in making predictions in this brave new CCC world we have to expect that Minnesota coach Richard Pitino is going to employ his effective full court press early and often against NU.  We've been saying ever since Sobo went down that this would be a good strategy to use against NU.  We will be watching with great interest to see how NU responds to the early pressure if/when this happens.  The Illinois and Wisconsin games have us expecting horrifying results for NU but maybe CCC has some more rabbits up his sleeve.  We hope so because our preseason hopes for an NIT bid this year are rekindling. 

26 January 2014

GAMBLE Report 1.17

Iowa 76 @NU 50

We're not upset that NU lost yesterday to Iowa.  The Hawkeyes are a very good team this year.  If NU and Iowa play 100 times we'd expect Iowa to win about 95 of them.   A loss was to be expected.

What bothers us is how NU lost to Iowa.  To us that the second half looked eerily similar to the first three games of the season.  It is true NU was game in the first half unlike in Iowa City.  But in the end does that matter?  Are our expectations for this year so diminished that we need be grateful for some sad moral victory that NU didn't get blown out of the gym during the first 60% of the game? 

The fact is that NU never really made Iowa sweat.  At the start of the game Iowa had a 86% win probability.  Sad but true -- NU never played its way into a bigger threat than at tipoff.  As soon as Iowa stretched the lead to double digits in the second half NU folded like a cheap tent.  Just as NU had done in the first few games of B1G play.   In the end the margin was 26 -- the same as the game in Iowa City earlier this month. 

That's disappointing.  The line was about 10 points which sounded about right.  Between the game switching to NU's home court and the trend of the losing team closing the gap in rematches -- something we went on about at length two seasons ago -- we expected a more competitive game.  Not so much.


NU was expected to lose 70-60.  NU lost 76-50.  NU never held the lead in the game.  Overall NU slipped four more rungs to #148 and is now 16 rungs worse than 2013.

The adjO went down by only 1 rung to #324.  There are now only 27 teams with worse offenses than NU.  The next worst major conference offense is Washington St at #290.

Somehow the adjD improved by one despite allowing Iowa an Off Eff of 119 and an eFG% of 56.5%.  This improvement smacks statistical noise whereby NU's defensive peers which had a bad Saturday themselves.

The problem with the defense against Iowa were twofold.  First unlike in its three wins NU could not force the Iowa offense into bad shots.  Iowa had an eFG% of 56.5%.  Second NU could not keep Iowa off the glass.  Iowa had an eye popping 46.4 OR%.   NU fell back 23 rungs in OR% which now makes for an overall slippage of 53 rungs during in B1G play.


The offense continues to look as anemic as ever.  NU's Off Eff of 78.6 didn't help matters.  In B1G games NU now has an AdjO of 83.5 which is on pace to easily break the 89.7 AdjO  futility mark set by PSU in 2004 (stats only go back until 2003).

The defense took a couple of steps back from last report with NU now the #7 ranked B1G defense. 

Next Game

NU travels to Madison on Wednesday.  NU has a 5% chance of winning per kenpom.  We'd like to think NU will close the gap since the Badgers visited Evanston.  Especially since Wisconsin has been a funk on defense.  This is a golden opportunity for NU to fix some things on offense but we won't hold our breaths.  The Iowa rematch was disappointingly bad which does not bode well for CCC's first trip to the Kohl which has been a house of horrors for NU over the years.

23 January 2014

GAMBLE Report 1.16

Fun Fact

Over the past four games NU’s adjD is holding teams below 0.85 PPP on average.  That is better than ANY DIVISION 1 team has performed over the season.  Spectacular!!! On offense NU has score 0.845 PPP.  That is worse than ANY DIVISION 1 team has performed over the season.  Horribad!!!   Has there ever been such a schizophrenic team?  

We read somewhere a CCC quote that said a coach’s job is to maximize what he has on hand.  We couldn’t agree more.  The above statistics show that he has done an amazing job of that on defense.  But on offense he couldn’t do any worse. 

@NU 63 Purdue 60 2OT

NU fans are giddy with excitement over Tuesday night’s win.  Contract extension for CCC?  Will CCC leave NU for Duke when Coach K retires?  Has CCC found his coaching identity?  Could NU have a winning record in the B1G and make the NCAAs?

Whoa now.  We hate to rain on the parade but people are starting to say some nutty things.  Look it.  We get that 3-4 in the B1G is a good thing seeing how NU had been blown away in its first three B1G games.  We get that NU has won three of its last four games.  We get that the defense has been a revelation. 

But let’s be real.  Per kenpom for its three victories NU has defeated the #92 Illini and the #101 Boilermakers at home and the #70 Hoosiers on the road.  These are all lower tier B1G teams.  Two of the games were at home.  One of those home wins required double OT to win.

Let’s assume a best case scenario that NU can somehow consistently impose its will against lower-tier B1G teams to eke out wins in spite of the moribund offense.  The other two other lower-tier B1G teams are #78 Nebraska and #107 Purdue.  NU has but five games against these five other B1G lower tier B1G teams.  

Because NU fumbled its way through the non-conference season even the NIT is but a dream unless NU can earn a .500 B1G record. If NU wins the five remaining games against the lower-tier.  That gets NU to eight BIG wins.  NU will need to steal a win from the upper tier.  In other words everything has to go about as well as can be realistically expected to even make the NIT.

How about taking the “short-cut” to the NCAAs by winning the BTT?  Four games in four days with NU’s short bench not to mention the heavy hitters in the top-tier?  Fuggedaboutit.


While NU narrowly won as projected it took NU and Purdue 50 minutes to score as many points as were projected in 40.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that the updated GAMBLE Report shows little movement except for a modest improvement on defense and a little more slippage further down toward the bottom of the offensive rankings. 

All told NU is now ranked #144 which is up two spots from last report and still 12 rungs behind 2013.  The defense is up 3 spots to a very impressive #18 while the offense is down 4 spots to #323.  Break out the confetti and fireworks RIGHT!?!?!?

Bigger picture NU continued its trend of solid fundamental defense.  NU has eschewed the notion of trying to turnover its opponents in favor of positional defense that better interferes with shot selection and facilitates rebounding.  This is a winning formula and CCC deserves credit for the heavy lifting done on the defensive end of the court.

On offense NU continues to slump.  NU has improved its ball protection in B1G play but in so doing has lost its gains from getting to the charity stripe more often and creating open looks once an opponent’s defense has broken down.  NU’s FTR is now #228 which is down over 80 rungs since the end of the non-conference slate.  Similarly the effective FG% for the offense is an abysmal #307 which is over 90 rungs worse than at the beginning of B1G play.  Overall the offense is down over 70 spots. 

BIG Gamble Report

The offense remains locked in the B1G cellar. The only positive we can write is that the TO% has improved to where NU was last year.

The defense continues to leap up the B1G charts.  The Adj D is up 3 more spots and is now #5 in the B1G.  The eFG% is now THE BEST in the B1G.  Looking ahead NU could vault up to the #2 defense in B1G if they can keep up this stout defense.

Overall NU is still #12 in the B1G.  There is that rainy parade thing again.......

19 January 2014

GAMBLE Report 1.15

NU 54 @Indiana 47

Three games a trend makes.  And a fool out of us as it were.  This team HAS turned a corner.  A defensive corner.  With a third straight stellar defensive effort NU bruised battered and spit out a visibly shocked Hoosiers squad 54-47 down in Bloomington yesterday afternoon.  How sweet it is!  We tip our caps to the coaching staff and the team!!!  And you have earned back our respect and are once again beloved NU in our eyes until further notice.

We still have a hard time believing that this team has suddenly turned on the defensive clamps so effectively.  We wonder if there are good examples of this happening before.  In any event it appears to be sticking and we ain't complainin'.

Can a similarly shocking turnaround occur on offense be in the offing?  Has that pump been priming too?  That's doubtful but consider us gun shy now in our predictions.  This is a brave new world with CCC and uncharted waters these be.

One possible reason the team may stop its slide on offense is a simple concept.  In a word: confidence.  Basketball much like any sport is mental and this team has suddenly won two of three in the B1G.  A little swagger may go a long way even on offense.

In no uncertain terms NU's offense yesterday was bad.  But the heroics of Tre Demps could be a spark plug to the offense.  Tre was white hot down the stretch and single handedly won this game when it appeared as if it may be slowly slipping away.  NU had surrendered its nearly game-long lead and was trailing by three points with about 5 minutes to go.  That's when Tre started to feel it.

OK.  That's understating it.  Tre went BEAST MODE on dem Hoosiers!!!!  First came a three pointer to tie it back up.  Then he attempted NU's next four shots and made all four of them.  All told Tre went on a 12 point streak that erased a 3 point deficit and turned it into a 6 point lead with under two minutes to play.


The stunning upset resulted in a 24 spot jump in the kenpom team rankings.  #146 is still below 2013, but at this rate the #132 mark is within this team's grasp.  The defense improved another 16 spots to #21 in the land.  zOMG!!!

The offense slipped another 6 spots to #319.  We're not even going to harp on that for now because the defense was just so good and we're giddy over the win.


No real movement here except for defense.  AdjD jumped another two spots driven by a huge 5 spot gain in eFG%.  That #8 adjD ranking is sorta the tip of the iceberg.  Above NU is a logjam of sorts.  Another strong defensive performance against Purdue on Tuesday and NU could easily vault up to #4.  That's INSANE!!!!!!!

Next Up

Purdue comes to the Welsh on Tuesday evening.  Purdue is 3-2 in the B1G but don't let that record fool youzs.   Their wins were over Nebraska and Penn State (barely) at home and at Illinois.  This game is winnable.  In fact kenpom has NU as the one point favorite: 63-62.

It's hard to believe but NU could be 3-4 in B1G.  That would be pretty good all things considered.  Too bad this team screwed the pooch in the non-conference or else we could at least start to entertain NIT dreams.  C'est la vie.  We're just happy there is a ray of hope this year when all seemed lost.

17 January 2014

Gibbeting: Part 1 of a never ending series

We debated whether this qualifies as rubbernecking or as gibbeting.  Ultimately we decided upon gibeting because it is criminal what has happened to the primary NW basketball discussion forum.  

Here are all 47 pages of a thread that many should be ashamed about.  We've made right margin notes on where things went wrong on pp. 1, 4, 5 and 9