Saturday, February 07, 2015

Morning News: Heartbreak For Dayton, 7-Way Big South Tie, And The NIT's Shorter Clock

Quick, pick who you think is going to win the Big South.

Heartbreak For Dayton The end of this game was a perfect demonstration of what I often talk about with regards to late game execution. A team can executive really well in the clutch but still lose, and they can execute really poorly in the clutch but still win. Confusing a team that wins a lot of close games with one that executes well in the clutch is a mistake. And here, Dayton fought back from 6 points down with 2 minutes to go in overtime to grab a 1 point lead on a Kyle Davis three off a totally busted George Washington defense. On George Washington's last chance, they took far too long to get into their offense and ended up with a bad off-balance shot that almost certainly would have missed, but Dayton executed too well and blocked it right into the hands of Joe McDonald who put it in for a score. You can watch the sequence below:
George Washington really needed this win at home after two consecutive losses. This is just their second RPI Top 50 win of the season (Wichita State was the other), and this win also pushes their RPI back inside the Top 50. They've got a convenient schedule the rest of the way, including home games against VCU and Davidson. They probably need to reach a minimum of 12 wins in Atlantic Ten play to earn an at-large bid, and need to get to 13-5 to be in good shape.

Dayton slips to 7-3 in Atlantic Ten play, but they're a strong 6-4 against the RPI Top 100, with an RPI and Sagarin ELO_SCORE that are still inside the Top 40. So they'd be an at-large team if the season ended now. A 6-2 finish to get to 13-5 (reasonable considering their remaining schedule) should keep them in there.

7-Way Big South Tie So good luck picking a favorite in the Big South. There is now a 7-way tie for first place at 8-4. It didn't seem like it would be that way, though, as High Point was in control of this game most of the night. They still led by 7 points with 4:15 to go, but an 11-0 run drove Coastal Carolina to a late lead they would not relinquish.
John Brown is developing a national reputation for incredible dunks like this.

Is there any way to separate these seven teams by efficiency margin? Here's where they are now:

+0.12 PPP Winthrop
+0.07 PPP High Point
+0.06 PPP Radford
+0.04 PPP Coastal Carolina
+0.04 PPP UNC Asheville
+0.03 PPP Charleston Southern
-0.00 PPP Gardner Webb

So there is a top tier and a lower tier, but I don't see how anybody can find an obvious favorite here. Before you say Winthrop, note that Winthrop has played a softer schedule than most of those other teams. They will play at High Point on Wednesday, where that efficiency margin gap can be wiped out.

NIT Will Experiment With A 30 Second Shot Clock There's nothing wrong with experimenting in a tournament that doesn't really matter, but in my personal view this is pretty pointless. The media has been trying really hard for the last 40 to 50 years or so to convince people that college basketball is dying because the offenses are dying, and that offenses are dying because the game is too physical and nobody can shoot anymore. The funny thing about announcers now claiming that the game was so much less physical in the early 1990s is that the media in the early 1990s was making the same exact arguments that the game was dying because it had gotten far too physical. I've debunked all of these myths before (several of them are in the permanent links on the left side of this page).

Scoring is down by around 5-6% over the past 35 years, but it's due to a slower pace. Offensive efficiency is actually slowly rising due to cleaner basketball (fewer turnovers). When the shot clock was reduced from 40 to 35 seconds two decades ago, scoring actually went down, and there's no obvious reason why that wouldn't happen with a reduction from 35 to 30 seconds. I'm not sure why anybody think uglier offenses with more turnovers and offenses that consist solely of high pick-and-rolls will make the game better to watch.

You want to improve the college basketball viewing experience? Reduce the number of timeouts, particularly in the final minute of a game. And require all reviews to be coaches challenges where a losing challenge costs a timeout. Just let guys play and stop halting the game so often, and nobody will care about the extra 5 seconds on the shot clock.

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