Friday, February 25, 2011

MIAA Final Four Preview

MIAAFinal Four
WhereHolland, MI
WhenFriday and Saturday
AudioCalvin, Hope
DirectionsGoogle Maps

The MIAA's final weekend is here! At least one team will advance to the NCAA tournament, and at least two teams will see their season end in Holland.

The good news for Calvin fans is that the Knights get to play the only team of the four that they swept during the regular season. That's not to say that getting to Saturday night will be a cakewalk, Albion was third for a reason, but it does comfort me.

I'm not expecting that I'll have time to 'preview' the championship game (let's operate under the assumption that Calvin beats Albion for the moment), so consider this your preview post for the whole weekend. You can think of it like a bonus post if you wish, but don't worry, you don't have to pay me any extra.

Let's jump to the graph! (click on it for a larger version)

Note that the graph title is a play on words. I'm hilarious.

In case we have newbies on the blog (or oldbies that want more explanation), here's a rundown of what these stats mean.

These are what are referred to as the four factors. They are supposedly the four stats that are most indicative of winning and losing. They are (in priority order) effective field goal percentage (eFG%), turnover rate (TOr), rebounding percentage (Rb%), and free throw rate (FTr). The first four sets of bars are for each team's offense and the second four are from the perspective of the defenses.

Effective field goal percentage is just like field goal percentage, but it adjusts numbers to account for the additional point of a made three pointer. Because when it comes to scoring points, 2-6 from three point range is worth the same as 3-6 from two. Average offenses are in the 0.490-0.500 eFG% range.

Turnover rate is the percentage of team possessions that end in a turnover. This one's pretty simple and obvious. Good offenses turn the ball over infrequently (you want to be less than 20%), and good defenses force extra turnovers (you'd like to force more than 20%).

Rebounding percentage is also easy to grasp. It's the percentage of available rebounds that a team collects on each end of the court. Average teams get about 68% of the rebounds on defense and 32% on offense.

Lastly, we have free throw rate. Getting to the free throw line can be an underrated skill. As long as you're shooing better than 60% from the stripe, you're helping your team's offensive efficiency rating. Free throw rate just tells us how many free throws a team shoots for every field goal attempt. Extra shots usually mean extra points. Average is about 0.36. A good offense supplements their point total with trips to the line, but a solid defense can lock you down without fouling.

From the graph, it looks like Calvin has two distinct advantages over the other three teams. They rebound the ball extremely well on the offensive end, and they don't send opponents to the free throw line very often.

Comparatively, Calvin's biggest weakness with respect to Albion, Hope, and Adrian is that they don't force many turnovers on defense. They do, however, look very good in the other three defensive categories.

Probable Starters
Here's a brief glance at the stats of the expected starters for the four teams.





The team stats at the bottom of each chart are for the team as a whole, not just the starters. Some of these stats are the same as above, but here's a quick explanation of the new ones. Bold numbers represent the high number in each category out of the starters (just thought it would be fun).

%Shots - The percentage of the team's shots a player takes while he's on the floor.
PPWS - Points per weighted shot. How many points a player records per attempt to score.
Ar - Assist rate. The percentage of made field goals that a player assists on while he's in the game.
Blk% - The percentage of opponents' two-point shot attempts that a player blocks while he's in the game.

I'm really geeked for these games. I think we'll have two quality semifinal contests on our hands. I was fairly nervous before Wednesday's game, but now I'm just feeling excited. Not getting to the weekend would have been disappointing, but we're here now. There's an opportunity to get this thing done.

Sure To Be Wrong Prediction
Calvin over Albion by 5
Hope over Adrian by 7

Up Next:
The NCAA Tournament. If ya win.

I've been missing the tournament the last couple of years. Best road trips ever. It's what got me hooked in the first place. Just win.

I'm going to request some tentative vacation from work for next Friday just in case. Just in case.

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