Statistically speaking

Katie Martinover 11 years

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Aritcle written by:Katie MartinKatie Martin
"Offense sells tickets. Defense wins games. Rebounding wins championships."--attributed to a million different people from Pat Summit to my 3rd grade basketball coach. We've all heard the quote a billion times. But is it true? The Kansas City star publishes various college basketball rankings according to different statistics each week and today one of their writers raises an interesting point. Is rebounding the most reliable predictor of the strength of the team? Or can we more easily predict a team's success by looking at other statistics? The main conclusion that their writer comes to is that, while other positive factors certainly contribute to a team's success, the ability to make shots and keep your opponent from making them are probably the most important. He provides the FG% margin (Team's FG%-Opponent's FG%) for the top 25 teams in the land, which show Kansas to be number one by a long shot. A Kansas City Star reporter finds that Kansas is number one? Shocking. I decided to put his conclusion to the test though, and I took a look at some historical data of final four teams from the past 5 years. (National Champions are highlighted)
Year Team Rebound Margin Rebound Rank  FG %Margin      FG%Rank
2005    UNC 8.1 5 9.8 2
2005    UL 0.9 154 7.8 11
2005    IL 5.9 14 6.9 16
2005    Michigan St. 5.2 21 5.9 25
2006     Florida 3.6 59 10.1 3
2006    GeorgeMason 2.1 105 9.3 4
2006     LSU 7.8 6 6.6 13
2006     UCLA 4.5 32 5.8 17
   2007     Florida 8.5 4 11.9 3
2007     Georgetown 5.4 27 12.2 2
2007      OSU 2.9 72 6.8 15
2007      UCLA 3.1 75 5.5 31
2008     Kansas 7.9 5 12.9 1
2008     Memphis 6.2 16 7.5 9
2008     UNC 11 1 6.2 26
2008     UCLA 8.2 4 5.8 32
 2009       UNC 6.3 17 7 15
2009       Uconn 8.9 3 9.7 2
2009       Villanova 4.9 35 4.8 40
2009       Michigan St. 9.3 1 3.5 66
  Looking at the rebounding rankings vs. the FG% rankings, you can see that there is much more consistency with the later. All five of the champions have been in the top 20 in FG% margin, and only one team (Michigan St. '09) has been out of the top 50 in the category. In comparison, rebounding margins are widely varied, with '05 UL being the largest outlier coming in at 154. And in case you wondered, here are Kentucky's final rankings for the past five years:
Year Team Rebound  Margin    Rebound Rank      FG % Margin   FG% Rank
2005      UK 1.2 124 5.9 26
2006      UK 2.9 80 2.2 101
2007      UK 3.2 70 6.5 19
2008      UK 1.5 125 7.3 13
2009      UK 5 34 9.2 6
I think its safe to say that there is a stronger corelation between the FG margin and success than most other statistics. We all know intuitively that having a low turnover ratio and great rebounding skills and any other positive stat you can think of will make you a better team. But none of those stats mean anything if you can't put the ball in the basket or keep your opponent from putting it in. A turnover means very little if your opponent doesn't capitalize on it, just as a rebound means very little if you can't hit the resulting shot. With that said, here are the FG % margin top ten through this weekend.
Ranking Name FG% Opponent FG% Margin
1    Kansas 52.2 33.8 18.4
2    Syracuse 53.7 36.9 16.8
3    Texas 49.3 34.5 14.8
4    Baylor 49.4 34.9 14.5
5    Florida St. 47.1 34 13.1
6    BYU 51.9 39 12.9
7    Miami (FL) 49.5 36.8 12.7
8    Coastal Caro. 50.1 37.5 12.6
9    Kentucky 50.2 37.8 12.4
10    Georgia Tech 47.2 35.4 11.8
One final note- While the NCAA publishes the rebound margin rankings, they don't have the FG% margin category. So you'll either have to take my word that my rankings are correct or do them yourself by hand. Kate Martin is an accountant and Purdue University graduate currently living in Lafayette, Indiana. She joined Kentuckysportsradio.com in January of 2010 and can be reached at [email protected]

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2021-09-17