Friday, September 23, 2011

Does Defense Matter

The advanced stat movement in basketball has a long way to go to catch baseball.

Various hurdles exist along the path. The popular parlance notes that baseball is an "individual sport masquerading as a team sport," whereas basketball outcomes are much more of a product of five interwoven parts. Then, there's the issue of whether basketball even collects enough data, or at least the right data, from which to draw conclusions.

The latter is especially concerning on the defensive end of the court. Dean Oliver, the godfather of the "Pomeroy" stats, suggested an expanded boxscore, which would include forced field goal misses to allocate defensive stops more appropriately, rather than just giving credit to the player that ultimately rebounded the miss. Without such a change, Oliver's defensive rating disproportionately favored big men, who could rack up huge numbers of rebounds and blocks, while guards saw their ratings primarily dependent on the only other input to the rating - steals.

Critics of Oliver's defensive rating launched a bevy of arguments, including the lack of a "forced miss" statistic and the circular nature of assignments (even if you could single out defensive performance, the best defenders draw the best offensive players, which would cause the best defenders to look more average than they actually are).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Final Ivy Composite Schedule

At long last, here is the full and complete Ivy slate. Tip off is in less than two months. (Games in yellow are placeholders for a tournament format. Actual opponents will depend on results in the tournament games.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

UPDATED: Ivy Composite Schedule (As of 9/15)

We're getting closer to the full release of the Ivy schedules, but for now, here are the announced/expected games and dates, where available. Cornell, Harvard and Yale's schedules are officially released. Each of the other schools has at least half of its non-conference games on this list (Brown and Columbia at around 50%, Dartmouth and Princeton at about 65% and Penn at about 80%).

Games in yellow are either part of a tournament - thus the pairings are mere placeholders depending on game outcomes - or in the case of Penn and Princeton, guesses at game dates based on traditional scheduling.

Excluding the non-Division I games (all of which are denoted DIII, regardless of whether the opponent is DII, NAIA, etc.) and based on last year's Pomeroy finish, Princeton currently has the toughest expected non-conference strength of schedule at .674. Penn is a close second at .644. The Quakers are easily in front when considering DIII contests into the SOS, and one should expect Penn to end up with the toughest SOS even when excluding the DIII games after the remaining dates on each of the Quakers and Tigers schedules are revealed.

Following Penn and Princeton, Cornell has the third toughest schedule with Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown right behind. Expect the Bears and Big Green to see their SOS slip as more games are released, though. Finally, Yale and Columbia bring up the rear as the only two teams with SOS ratings below .500.

(UPDATE: Brown's full schedule has been released and sure enough, the Bears have slipped to the weakest league schedule. Expect Columbia to challenge for that title when its full slate is released.)

(UPDATE 9/9: Columbia released its full schedule and sure enough, it now has the weakest slate by a landslide. Excluding non-D-I games, the league's SOS sits right at .500 now. We have 90 percent of the games on the schedule with just Dartmouth, Penn and Princeton yet to release. The Tigers still lead in the SOS category, but assuming they actually want to play at home during the non-conference slate, their SOS will probably take a tumble as the remaining games should include enticing some cupcakes to play at Jadwin.)

(UPDATE 9/15: Down to just 10 or fewer games to go - depending on whether teams max out their schedules. Dartmouth and Princeton have four left and Penn has two. Those are also the only three with schedules remaining to be released. The Tigers are still hanging onto the top spot in the SOS battle with Penn close behind. Cornell and Harvard remain in third and fourth, then a huge gap before getting to Yale, Dartmouth and Brown and another huge gap to get to last place Columbia.)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shorting Harvard

The Crimson is a Top 50 team. It's a lock to grab the Ivy League title. It'll be a tournament sleeper.

But locks don't have gaping flaws. This Harvard team might.

Offensively, the Crimson is already one of the best teams the Ivies seen over the past 15 years, posting top six Adjusted Offensive Ratings for both the whole season and during the conference slate. Losing no one, adding a stellar recruiting class and getting a full year of Kyle Casey at 100 percent should at the very least guarantee the same, if not better, production during the 2011-2012 campaign.