Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More parity

I noticed that there seemed to be fewer blow outs than normal as I looked over the top 25 scores. I didn't know if this was just my imagination or if there was something to it, so I had my co-blogger Bart pull some data for me from Kenpom. Turns out I am not imagining things.

Here are the stats on games between top 30 and sub 200 Kenpom teams from this year and from last year through the same point in the season:

t30/s200 Margin26.731.3-14.7%
t30/s200 Blow71%79%
t30/s200 Close19%5%

Bart pointed out to me that:
So there is some support for your impression. Last year the average margin in these games was 31.3, and this year it's 26.7. There have also been fewer blowouts (20 pts or more) and almost 4 times as many close games (10 pts or less).
We both had some ideas about what may be causing this, and the new rules seem to be the most likely culprit. The new rules should help kids get off shots without being hand checked. They could also force more collapsing to the lane to help since guys just can maul drivers with their hands, which could lead to more open perimeter shots. I think there will eventually be more teams playing zone too.

Teams that recruit players who are phenomenal athletes but not great shooters could end up being "punished" as these players' once-dominating defense is now marginalized. I feel like there are probably more upper-level teams that recruit these types of athletes, and more small/crappy schools that just bring in shooters. This might lead to more upsets, or at least closer games amongst the haves and have nots until teams adjust recruiting or the rules are adjusted. 

Bart added:
Another way in which the new rules might help the Davids is that you tend to see quick undersized guards at the mid majors. In other words, they are just as good at basketball, and speedy, but don't get recruited to the major conference teams because they can't stand up to the beating and can't get their shot off over big defenders. Now we might see these little guys just going around the bigger slower defenders. 
We'll have to look at this more as the season goes on.

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