Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calvin Women's NCAA Tournament "Pod" Preview

WhatRd. 1 and 2
WhereVan Noord Arena
WhenFriday and Saturday
Who#25 Hanover vs. #6 Chicago
La Roche vs. #18 Calvin
LiveStatsLive Stats
AudioWeb Audio
VideoWeb Video
Tickets$6, $3

How We Got Here

Calvin vs. Hope Women's Bball game winning shot by Jill Thomas from Calvin College on Vimeo.

OK, so that's not exactly the reason Calvin's in the tournament. This team earned their trip with a stellar season and would have been in the tournament with a loss in that championship game, but they wouldn't have had a home game if Jill didn't nail that shot.

Four Factors

(click on the image for a larger version)

In case you're just joining us on the year, here's an explanation of the above graph. It was from a post I did for a men's game, so the league averages won't be exactly the same, but the principles still hold.

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.

Let's first look at the first four sets of bars, which represent the respective offenses.

Calvin is right up there with Chicago in effective field goal percentage, but they lag behind the other three teams in the remaining three categories.

The Knights turn the ball over a lot. Some of that might be high risk-high reward type plays in which they're trying to feed the ball into Carissa for an easy (as she always makes it look) basket. Still, come tournament time all the teams are good, and you simply can't afford to give the ball away. This isn't Kalamazoo, so high turnover totals will cost you (see: St. Norbert).

It actually surprised me quite a bit to see that Calvin as the fourth best offensive rebounding team of the bunch (considering CARISSA!). MIAA teams averaged 34% on offensive rebounds, so Calvin actually was a bit below average. La Roche, Chicago, and Hanover have all been above the 34% mark for the season.

Calvin doesn't really get to the free throw line very much. This doesn't look like it will come into play very much against La Roche, the Red Hawks are very close to Calvin in this respect, but the differential could hurt Calvin in a potential Saturday matchup.

Things look a lot better for the Knights on defense. They hold a dominating edge against the other three teams in effective field goal percentage allowed. The really good news is that field goal shooting is the most important of the four factors, and Calvin's the best in that when we consider both offense and defense.

Calvin looks to be fairly average in forcing turnovers, but the fact that they have forced more than they've given up is an encouraging sign. The Knights rebound very well on the defensive end (CARISSA!), but it looks like Chicago also does as well. Calvin sends opponents to the free throw line more than the La Roche, Chicago, and Hanover do, but none of the three teams seem to foul at extreme rates.

Efficiency Ratings
Another (simpler) way to compare the offenses and defenses is to look at efficiency ratings. The offensive efficiency rating is given as points scored per 100 possessions. The defensive efficiency rating is points allowed per 100 possessions. Here's the comparison in graphical form.

This tells us pretty much what the four factors graph did, but it emphasises exactly how good the Calvin defense is. A potential second day game versus either Chicago or Hanover would provide an interesting strong offense versus strong defense matchup. I have no idea how that would play out.

Probable Starters
Here's a quick statistical look at the players on each team that will probably be starting. The numbers that are bolded on the player lines indicate the high mark among the 20 starters. The team line represents total team stats, not just those of the starters listed.


La Roche%MIN%ShotsPPWSeFG%TO%Rb%FTrArBlk%
La Roche1.001.000.890.4120.190.370.280.510.09

Meg. Herrick0.710.221.030.4290.190.100.780.230.01
Mor. Herrick0.620.231.070.4980.150.090.380.130.04


Some of these stats are explained above in the four factors section, but an explanation may be needed of the new ones.

%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.

A quick glance through the player stats, and it appears that CARISSA! is the best player in the pod. Any surprises there?

Sure To Be Wrong Prediction
I like Chicago to pull away from Hanover in a closely fought contest in the early game, and I like Calvin to beat La Roche rather handily in the late game.

Saturday will be a battle, but the home court advantage will lift Calvin over Chicago.

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