Friday, January 4, 2013

Calvin Knights Topple #7 Adrian Bulldogs

First off, should Adrian have been ranked in the Top-10? Probably not, but they have represented themselves to-date as a solid Top-25 team and a ranking in the teens wouldn’t have been underserved. They’re certainly still a Top-25 team even with the loss. I’m probably splitting hairs here, I know that, but this wasn’t so much number seven versus unranked as it was more like, say, number 14 versus 28. I mean, it was exactly number seven versus unranked, but that billing doesn’t do justice to the relative quality of the teams.

What I mean to say is that although Adrian was highly ranked and Calvin not ranked, this was going to be a close game, and one that Calvin would likely win. Massey had Calvin as a 62% favorite and predicted a three-point win. My unadjusted efficiency numbers predicted a 60-54 Calvin win. I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say here other than that Calvin and Adrian are both very good teams, and that this particular game went pretty much according to form.

It’s tough to immediately recall a game that was more tightly contested from start to finish. Calvin never trailed by more than two, and never took a lead larger than six until the final five minutes when they stretched it to seven on two occasions. But even with the score close – seemed like it was Calvin by four for the entire second half – it didn’t necessarily feel like it was “only” a two-possession game. The game was a defensive battle and I’m sure (though I haven’t done it) one might be able to count the number of times either team scored in back-to-back possessions on one hand.

The win got Calvin on the D3hoops front page:

It was a great game to watch – if you don’t mind the absence of pretty offense – and a great win for the Knights.

The win puts Calvin in the driver’s seat for the league title – though one game in isn’t much – but getting that first win over a contending team will do that. An 11-3 league record now seems very possible – or even likely – at this moment. That would put Calvin at 20-5 heading into the MIAA Tournament. Massey’s “simulate season” function has Calvin winning 10.6 games the rest of the way which would mean an 11-3 or even 12-2 (depending on how you want to round) league record.

Efficiency Numbers

Possessions: 61
Offensive Efficiency: 92.4 (points per 100 possessions)
Defensive Efficiency: 82.5 (points per 100 possessions)

A little bit of a slower pace than Calvin typical plays – they’re usually up around 70 possessions – but not that big of a deal. It happens when two teams play good defense and easy shots are difficult to come by.

92.4 isn’t a great number by any stretch – average for the league is usually right around 100 – but it could be considered a good number when considering that Adrian was the opponent, and that Adrian had previously held their opponents to a 79.4 efficiency rating. That difference represents eight points in this 61 possession game. They’re a defensive killer, that’s what they do.

Calvin holding Adrian to an 82.5 is just about right. Calvin came in holding opponents to an 85.5 efficiency mark, and Adrian’s been average-to-slightly-below on the offensive end this year.

The game’s efficiency margin of 9.9 (points per 100 possessions, that is) – if it truly represents the relative abilities of these two teams – would suggest a 68% chance that Calvin wins a rematch. And as I said, the Massey Ratings said 62% coming in, so this game probably does little to move the needle.

Stats of the (K)night

14 assists for Calvin. That was 70% of their made field goals.
A combined five assists and zero turnovers for Bryan Powell and Tom Snikkers. They also chipped in 26 of Calvin’s 56 points.

Looking ahead

The attention now turns to Albion – Calvin will head there on Saturday – but the Britons look like they could be headed for last place. They were just pounded 81-54 by Olivet, who may themselves only finish in sixth place. Injuries and dismissals have cost Albion much of their depth and experience; it may not be pretty.

A win on Saturday (combined with yesterday’s win) could get Calvin ranked in next week’s poll. It would surely put them in the “receiving votes” conversation.

Official regional rankings won’t come out for another month or so, but I’d guess the Great Lakes would look like this at the moment (regional records noted):

1.       Ohio Wesleyan (10-0)
2.       Calvin (6-0)
3.       Adrian (6-1)
4.       Wooster (10-2)
5.       Wittenberg (5-2)
6.       Capital (8-2)

Calvin’s in-region strength of schedule numbers won’t be pretty – they way the home/away multipliers work and all – so they’ll need to keep up a sterling in-region record to stay in Pool C contention. Probably just want to win the AQ.

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