Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is Georgetown overrated?


The Hoyas came into this week with their AP ranking dropping from 9th to 14th (or 18th on KenPom, if you prefer a rational metric), and fans across the Hoya-nation spectrum are fretting that their plans of a Final Four trip might not happen.

I think it might be time to lower your expectations a bit.

As our regular reader knows, we don't update this blog nearly as often as we used to - hell, it took me two weeks to get all the stats pages updated.  But there is one set of stats that we do track religiously around here, and that's the "Big East Snapshot" page.  Not so much because it's a better set of stats than the others, but because I actually bothered to make those stats more automated than the rest.

You probably don't check that page often, if at all, but you should.  It provides you with two main pieces of information: a set of summary tables (more on those in a minute) and a handy chart for each Big East team.  Here's the Georgetown chart (click to enlarge):

There's a previous post where I explain how to read these charts, but here's a brief summary:
  • The top of the chart shows how well the Hoyas played in any game, accounting for the quality of the opponent and the venue.  A black dot means a win, a grey dot means a loss. We rate the team's performance by the final score, and with some tricky math figure what rank you'd give the team based only on that single game.
  • The middle and bottom of the chart are how well the team played on offense and defense, respectively, again accounting for opponent and venue.  These are the offensive and defensive efficiencies (points per 100 possessions) that Ken Pomeroy made famous.
  • Home games are in all caps; since Chaminade is not a Division-I team, that game doesn't get rated.
Now if you put your thumb over that dot that represents the win at St. John's, you should notice a disturbing trend - since the second win against Memphis, the Hoyas have begun an inexorable slide throughout January.  Note: the chart is dynamic and will update as the season progresses, so the above discussion may or may not be valid in a few weeks.


Well, if I knew exactly what was wrong I probably wouldn't be posting from my mother's basement, but I think the chart shows two clear issues:
  • The defense stopped playing lights-out after the Memphis game (excluding the win vs. Providence), although there seems to be a trend towards getting back to the early season prowess.
  • The offense is going into the tank (and you probably didn't need a chart to know that).

Putting this in some context after the jump
Since I realize it's hard to sort out everything that's going on in all the charts for the BE snapshots, I also make a handy pair of summary tables at the top.  Here's an abbreviated version of one of them:

Team             W  L    Pyth KP_Rnk  rnk
Cincinnati       5  4   0.830   46     6
Connecticut      4  4   0.824   47     8
DePaul           2  6   0.501   177   16
Georgetown       6  3   0.863   30     3
Louisville       5  4   0.829   46     7
Marquette        8  2   0.901   17     2
Notre Dame       6  3   0.832   46     5
Pittsburgh       3  7   0.738   83    11
Providence       1  8   0.641   120   14
Rutgers          4  5   0.737   83    12
Seton Hall       4  6   0.799   58     9
South Florida    6  3   0.746   82    10
St. John's       3  6   0.608   131   15
Syracuse         9  1   0.945    8     1
Villanova        3  7   0.726   89    13
West Virginia    5  5   0.843   39     4

When we account for how well the Hoyas have played in-conference by using the final score over their first nine games and adjust for strength-of-schedule, we learn that Georgetown is playing well enough to rank about 30th nationally (KP_Rnk in the table).  If we look at just the last 5 games played, the Hoyas are a touch worse - 34th.  That is to say, if the NCAA tournament started this weekend, we'd expect the Hoyas -  depending upon seeding - to be about even odds to advance to the Round of 32 and be big underdogs to make the Sweet 16.

So is there any positives to take away?

At least two:
  • During the OOC part of the schedule, the Hoyas looked like a top-10 team.  This may not be much consolation right now, but generally - barring injury - teams that demonstrate the ability to play at a high level for a stretch of games early are capable of doing it again later (e.g. UConn from last season, Louisville right now)
  • Frankly, the Big East just isn't very good this year outside of Syracuse and a surging Marquette.  In spite of how the Hoyas have played, we still rate them as the third best team in the conference (rnk in the table above), or fourth-best over their previous five games played.  Perhaps a better goal, depending upon whether the team can figure out it's offensive woes, is a return to the conference championship game.

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