enjoy this shot of mediocre quality [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Let's Have Some Fun With Bart Torvik Dot Com Comment Count

Brian January 9th, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Bart Torvik's site allows you to slice data into whatever chunk you want; I've been slicing.

One rank to rule them all. Michigan is the #1 team in the country if you consider just games against top 50*, top 100, top 150, and top 200 opponents. It's only when the dregs get added in that Michigan slips back to third.

The reason for this is pretty obvious: zones. Torvik's algorithm thinks more highly of Michigan's offense than Kenpom and the teams that get added back in when you consider every game are Norfolk State, George Washington, Chattanooga, Air Force, and Binghamton. That selection of opponents contain the large majority of Michigan possessions against zones.

Michigan's offensive issue-type substances almost entirely go away when you consider just top 100 opponents; they're 9th per Torvik. The defense is third. That's a seven-game sample, so it's relatively robust.


[After the JUMP: charts!]

Michigan's defense in two charts. Here is a chart on which the best defensive teams in the country are to the top and the best at preventing threes are to the right. High major teams are the big bubbles; low majors are the little dots.


Michigan is sui generis amongst the best Ds in the country, more heavily dependent on their ability to prevent launches from deep than the other Ds that have poked their head above the fray. (For the record: those are Duke, Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and the purple one way to the left is Kansas State.)

Stanford is the extreme outlier to the right; four of the other five teams who've separated from the pack are in the Big Ten. Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, and Minnesota are all going to great lengths to prevent threes.

The other chart is much less noisy. Opponent assist rate vs defensive efficiency:


There's Michigan's D in two charts. Force contested twos.

One more not-quite-a-chart. Michigan: 16th in transition D. 21st at preventing transition opportunities.

Call it a program philosophy. Stay out of the midrange. Michigan's offensive issues (such as they are) are approximately 100% having too many Other Twos that they're not good at making:

  • Michigan's 17th in the country at converting at the rim and 58th from three.
  • They're 293rd at converting Other Twos at 30.8%. Even removing the Binghamton game (6/27) only gets them up to 32%, which is still deep into the 200s.

Caveat: some of Torvik's data seems weird. They have Simpson at 2/15, which implies that a bunch of Simpson's hook shots are being filed as at the rim, which no. Hoop Math has different, less scalding numbers: 35% on other twos. That's still bad, but not abominable.

Either way Charles Matthews is the main culprit here, hitting under 30% on the other twos that are a plurality of his shots. Maybe fewer stepback jumpers and more attempting to yam it on people's faces.

Seeding outlook. Torvik is now throwing up three-seeds for Michigan in the event they go 12-8 in conference; anything better is almost certainly on the two line. His system projects Michigan has the #3 overall seed… and MSU #4 right behind them.

The brief moment where the Big Ten looked like they'd get ten bids has passed. There's still a chance; Torvik has 9 in with Minnesota as the #4 team out; the most endangered team still in, Iowa, is a ten-seed.

Weird MEAC team of the week! This week's weird MEAC team is Elon, which is such a weird MEAC team that they're in the Colonial. Weird! Spare a thought for the Fightin' Musks, who have attempted one dunk on the season… and missed it.

Also spare a thought for our friends just down the road in the Convocation Center. EMU is the most dunked-on team in all the land, by attempts. Old friends Savannah State are the most dunked-upon if measuring by completions.

Weird MEAC player of the week! UCF's Tacko Fall.

Aubrey Dawkins has seen this up close. His memoirs will double as a basketball horror story.


Reggie Dunlop

January 9th, 2019 at 1:07 PM ^

I know this is overused when it comes to bad free throws, but seriously, why wouldn't that guy just lob it up there underhand granny-style?

What he's doing in that clip is an outright disaster. Just swinging his arms between his legs and tossing it up there would be an infinitely more natural motion and infinitely more repeatable.

For some reason, in basketball it is more honorable to look like a clown missing overhand than it is to make a bucket underhand. Whatever. Best of luck.


January 9th, 2019 at 2:54 PM ^

For some reason, in basketball it is more honorable to look like a clown missing overhand than it is to make a bucket underhand.

That's the thing with this guy . . . he looks so stupid shooting free throws overhand, that he has nothing to lose by trying them underhand.  

What are people going to say: "That looks stupid"? 

They're already saying it.



January 10th, 2019 at 1:09 PM ^

Completely agree. This is one of my biggest pet-peeves in all of sports that players refuse to shoot Rick Barry/Jackie Moon style on their free-throws. It's just stupid that players think it's more embarrassing to shoot under-handed than it is to constantly miss free throws and need to be taken out of games in critical situations because you're such a liability.

If I were a basketball coach one of my main rules would be if you shoot less than 70-65% at the line, you must shoot Rick Barry style.

El Jeffe

January 9th, 2019 at 12:33 PM ^

They hint at it in the audio, but if the other team fouled Fall in the act of shooting on every possession, UCF's expected PPP would be 0.558. And if they did Hacka Tacko (!) it would be less than that for the three one and ones between 7 and 9 fouls, inclusive.



January 9th, 2019 at 12:36 PM ^

According to KenPom, the next team whose defensive fingerprint is not "Mostly Man" is Iowa (this excludes IU who is listed as "Inconclusive" but AFAIK played no zone on Sunday). Michigan plays them on February 1st.

I'm not sure how accurate that defensive fingerprint information is, though, right now. For example, KP lists MSU as "Inconclusive" but Izzo is strict M2M. So...I dunno.



January 9th, 2019 at 1:08 PM ^

Maryland had difficulty with Minnesota last night so they switched to zone for the 2nd half and were much more effective. I'm hoping that's not something they continue to develop, though I'm almost certain the Terps will switch to zone for at least some portion of the game against Michigan given our struggles against it. Hopefully it's short-lived.


January 9th, 2019 at 1:11 PM ^

*Caveat - I didn't really watch the game. Just saw it on the BTN basketball show this morning. Turgeon (sp? too lazy to look it up) said the switch was because they had trouble staying in front of guys in the first half. Crispin seemed to think it was highly effective, but, uh, I believe there are... opinions about Crispin's aptitude, so take it for what it's worth.

Yinka Double Dare

January 9th, 2019 at 12:43 PM ^

When you're that gigantic, and are shooting that poorly, it's time to try the Rick Barry underhand method. 

Not surprising, but nice to see a visualization that turning the other team into heroball directly correlates with defensive efficiency. 


January 9th, 2019 at 12:43 PM ^

If a trebuchet shot a free throw


Also, I wish Charles Matthews would just dunk on everyone once he's at/near the charge circle. Percentage of making the dunk or drawing a foul has to be greater than a fadeaway jumper.

A State Fan

January 9th, 2019 at 12:44 PM ^

Brian, you're correct about BartTorvik's mid-range shots being a little wonky. According to the site, Nick Ward is taking about 33% of his shots from "Other 2pt Range". I'd suspect it's just related to how he gets play-by-play data from NCAA.com or wherever.


Nevertheless, it's a fantastic site. I like it more than Kenpom, though it's been a couple years since I had a Kenpom subscription.


January 9th, 2019 at 1:59 PM ^

I've had a sub to KP for 6-7 years now and still use it every day but also really enjoy some of the fun number stuff that Torvik's site has to offer, like adjusting for certain opponents, future results, and isolating certain time frames.

One thing about Pomeroy's site that I really enjoyed was the blog that he would update on a pretty regular basis. When I started subscribing he would do weekly columns on some of the weird and interesting results/box scores across CBB. In the past few seasons he's put more effort in that arena at other sites (ESPN, The Athletic) and now basically only does big offseason posts and stuff around Tournament time at his site.


January 9th, 2019 at 3:38 PM ^

My KP sub expired on 1/3 so I'm trying to ride with just Torvik.  Still getting used to finding things in different places since both sites have most of the same-ish data.

The only thing I miss so far about KP that doesn't have something similar (or I've yet to find) is kenpoms POY and All-conference predictions.  Those take into account defensive and rebounding stats plus team success.

Torvik just sorts individual data by Adj PORPAGATU (yeah, it's a mouthful) which is a stat I don't love because it's only an offensive stat and I think it gives a little too much weight to minutes played.  It is still a good indicator of how important a player is to his team's offense.

I haven't found any wholistic stats on Torvik that takes rebounding and defensive stats into account, and that would be nice.


January 9th, 2019 at 12:47 PM ^

You're saying Simpson's hook shots shouldn't be counted as at the rim?  That seems like a drive and lay up.  He's just so prone to having those blocked that he's come up with that brilliant solution.  Effectively what is it for the team?  It's him driving the lane to the basket and putting it up off the backboard.  It's a lay up. 


January 9th, 2019 at 1:53 PM ^

Yeah, those are close.  The ones that go off the backboard are more like layups cuz he gets pretty close on those.   He does shoot some of them from like 10 feet that are more like floaters/traditional hooks.  The distinction should be a pretty strict definition, I would say 5 feet (or maybe 7) from the basket measured as the distance from release point to a theoretical cylinder going upwards from the rim and down to the floor. Inside of that is "at-the-rim" outside of that and it's mid-range.

Not sure how exact the measurements get (i.e. not sure if someone is just eyeballing it or if they're actually using a chip in the ball or overhead cameras to determine this like I think they do in the NBA) or what the official criteria they use is.

Blue Middle

January 9th, 2019 at 1:10 PM ^

Tacko Fall should start shooting FTs using the granny style.  I'm not kidding.

Why players won't use a superior technique just because it looks silly is beyond me.


January 9th, 2019 at 7:06 PM ^

Well, it requires you to practice an entirely foreign technique.  For most players that are reasonably good shooters, it makes sense to shoot the way your practice all your other shots.  The muscle memory is being developed for those shots already.

But yes, if you're a bad shooter anyway (Ben Wallace, Shaq, this guy, Z, etc.) then you haven't developed effective muscle memory that way so might as well try another way.


January 9th, 2019 at 1:44 PM ^

In addition to the spotty "other twos" Michigan has shot against zones, the AdjO is brought waaaay down by those first two games in which M shot poorly from three (9-45 combined), thus scoring under a point per possession against very bad teams.  Those were BY FAR M's worst offensive games of the season as noted by Torvik's deep red cells on the heat map of ADJO.

Those two games had adjusted Ortg in the 80s and no other game, even during the meh stretch in December has been under 100. M went an abysmal 20% from three (9-45), and everyone freaked out, but it was largely Poole (0-6!) and Braz (2-7) combining to go 2-13 in those games.  That was never going to continue and lo, Poole has gone 51% and Braz 41% since those two games.

Since Nov 11 (the day after the Holy Cross game) M has been the 6th (!!) best offense per Torvik, better even than Duke, which is clearly getting a big bump from that UK game.  That includes the wonky Air Force, WMU, Binghamton, and PSU games.

6th best offense in the country since Nov. 11.