Basketbullets: Brackets, Shot Volume, Wisconsin, Stephening

Basketbullets: Brackets, Shot Volume, Wisconsin, Stephening

Submitted by Brian on February 13th, 2018 at 2:19 PM



Brackets: large differences. Michigan is a 9 seed on the Bracket Matrix, but Joe Lunardi has a more optimistic take:


Lunardi doesn't pay enough attention to avoid rematches in the first two rounds, thus the potential UNC game in round two. Let's hope he's right, and not everyone else. (Everyone else is probably right.)

I don't dive into the numbers like bracket guys do, but it's completely bonkers to me that a team like Alabama is ahead of Michigan on the matrix. Alabama has Ls to Minnesota, UCF, and Texas in the nonconference and is 7-5 in the SEC. They've got a smattering of good wins but they're 43rd in Kenpom.

Sucks being a Big Ten team this year, I guess. Crashing The Dance's entirely algorithmic take barely has Michigan out of the first four—they're the #29 at large—and has them as a ten-seed. Woof. (It's missing Michigan's most recent win, but I don't think Wisconsin is moving that needle very much.)

Let's all try to not think about what Michigan's tourney profile with one of those games against Purdue in the W column.

Shot volume: we have some of it. Michigan's always been okay at getting shots up, and this year they're fairly good. Via John Gasaway:

Gluttonous	         TO%     OR%     SVI
1.  North Carolina      16.1    41.0    102.8
2.  Villanova           12.9    28.4    100.7
3.  Duke                17.2    37.4     99.8
4.  Ole Miss            15.9    32.9     99.8
5.  Florida State       16.2    34.2     99.5
6.  USC                 14.4    29.5     99.5
7.  TCU                 16.8    34.9     99.1
8.  Notre Dame          16.7    34.0     98.8
9.  Arizona State       14.1    27.1     98.7
10. Auburn              15.7    30.8     98.6
11. West Virginia       18.1    36.9     98.5

Normal                   TO%     OR%     SVI
12. Florida             14.5    27.2     98.3
13. Virginia            14.2    26.3     98.2
14. Iowa State          16.9    33.2     98.2
15. NC State            16.8    32.5     98.0
16. Michigan            13.9    25.0     97.9
17. Ohio State          15.5    28.6     97.8
18. Purdue              14.3    25.4     97.7
19. South Carolina      17.4    33.4     97.7
20. Butler              14.3    25.2     97.6

Michigan checks in 16th amongst 75 major-conference teams, largely on the strength of their TO rate, which is typical Beilein, and an OREB rate that, while last in the Big Ten, is not cripplingly low. Teams like Creighton and VT and their sub 20% OREB rates get sucked into the bottom here despite solid TO rates. And TO rate is where it's at:

Since turnovers are way more important to shot volume than offensive boards (you can’t rebound your miss if you’ve already coughed up the ball), you can generate a UNC-like shot volume with nowhere near the Chapel Hill-variety emphasis on the offensive glass. Shot volume is small-c catholic on how you get the job done, it just measures results.

Michigan doesn't focus on OREBs, exchanging them for excellent transition defense, but they're not hurting themselves on offense much by doing son.

I'd be interested to see a defensive version of this, especially to see Michigan's uptick in it over the last couple seasons.


Cowan and Mason are UA3 shooters [Paul Sherman/Marc-Gregor Campredon]

The Stephening. Kevin Pelton takes a look at Trae Young, the insane-usage Oklahoma guard who is the face of a vanguard of players. Curry has created a subclass of three-point launchers unprecedented in NBA history...

Curry's 3-point attempts increased only marginally to 7.9 per game in 2013-14, albeit in fewer minutes. It wasn't until two seasons later, after winning MVP, that Curry fully unleashed his full 3-point arsenal. In 2015-16, Curry zoomed past double-digit 3-point attempts, averaging an incredible 11.2 per game ... and becoming the first player in NBA history to be voted MVP unanimously.

Curry's success helped pave the way for other stars to shoot 3s more frequently. This season, his 10.0 3-point attempts per game rank second in the league behind MVP favorite James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who is attempting 10.7 per game. Each of the past two seasons, both Harden and teammate Eric Gordon have attempted more 3s per game than any player in league history before Curry.

...and naturally the college game has also noticed.

The website has used play-by-play data to track assisted and unassisted field goals at the college level back through 2011-12. The leaderboard of unassisted 3s is dominated by the past two seasons, and Young has an excellent chance to post the highest total in that span.

Young is on pace to hit around 100 unassisted threes this season. That is on another level from Derrick Walton's ability in this department; he hit 34 last year. It's on another level from everyone, but these kinds of guys are about to be a lot more common. Maryland's Anthony Cowan, who you may remember making some very frustrating shots against Michigan earlier this year, is hitting 40% from deep despite half of his makes coming unassisted. PSU's Tony Carr is hitting 46% despite having 38% of his makes unassisted; Minnesota's Nate Mason is at 42% and on 45% unassisted threes.

When the pull-up three is a good shot that changes your late clock offense significantly; not only do you get a decent shot at three points but the defense has to respect it, opening up other things.

(FWIW, Michigan's dip in late-clock offense this year is a little about reduced efficiency from three—Walton hit 40% on 64 late threes last year; Zavier Simpson is at 33%; as a team Michigan's FG% on late threes has dipped 4 points. But it's more about an inability to get anyone to hit a jumper inside the line. Michigan is at 22% on late two point jumpers; last year they were at 36%.)

This is particularly relevant for Michigan because you can't throw a brick around here without hitting a game video of David DeJulius in which he pulls up for a three, several times.

The evolution of this from BS high school offense to something you really want to have on your team has been fascinating, and rapid.

What's going on with Wisconsin. This doesn't have a ton to do with Michigan but I found this conversation about Wisconsin basketball to be interesting all the same. This is an excellent point:


I do not think that Gard is intentionally changing the Ryan system—but I do think the formula may be outdated. Not because it doesn’t work, but because everyone is using it now. Bo was at the vanguard, and used shot volume to wring wins out [for] lesser-talented teams. After about ten years of doing this, other coaches finally grudgingly admitted that it was ingenious and started doing it (namely: protecting the defensive glass and limiting turnovers) themselves. At around the same time, however, Wisconsin got super talented and put together its best sustained run ever. So we didn’t notice that the underlying formula might not work as well without elite talent.

Let me explain this a little further. You correctly point out that Wisconsin used to rank among the elite in turnover percentage and defensive rebounding percentage, and now they rank as mediocre. That is correct, but it obscures the fact their actual performance hasn’t changed much. Look at the turnover numbers:

Year   TO% Rank

2018  18.0  120

2005  17.9   22

An even starker example, using last year’s full year numbers:

Year   TO% Rank

2017  17.0   71

2006  17.4    9

In other words, a turnover percentage that used to rank among the elite, now ranks among the mediocre. Wisconsin hasn’t really gotten that much worse at committing turnovers, it’s just that literally everybody else has gotten better.

A similar thing is happening with defensive rebounding.

Michigan's managed to stay ahead of these trends. They're still 4th in TO rate nationally, and their DREBs have improved a great deal this year. Wisconsin got a sudden reality check this year. Which is nice when you're playing at the Trohl Center. But I'm not sure it's good for the league overall. Wisconsin putting together a good program comprised largely of random kids from Fond Du Lac helped the league perform without upping their recruiting. And there's really no way to up the Big Ten's recruiting without activating the Bag Man Wonder Powers that have an even bigger influence on basketball recruiting than they do football.

Who fills Wisconsin's spot in the league? Nobody, in all probability. And then you get slotted in as a nine seed despite being 20-7 with a win at MSU.

Finally. A dream too beautiful and vision-blocking to live.