Breslin Vs. Crisler - Personal Foul Stats

Submitted by DonBrownSoda on January 19th, 2018 at 12:03 PM

Between the round table yesterday, the podcast, and the game recaps from this past weekend's MSU game, Brian has mentioned that Michigan always seems to get screwed by the refs at Breslin. I think many people belive this to be the case (mostly because of a game or two over the years). But, seeing how this is MGoBlog and we don't play "feelings stats" around here, I did a mini-dive into the boxscores from 2001-present. This is simply foul totals. I don't have the time to look into when fouls were called (e.g. end of game situations, etc.) so take it for what it's worth. Caveats apply obviously for Beilein's foul adversity, etc. Scroll down to see the results...

DNP - We did not play there that year.

PFs - Personal Fouls

Games at Breslin
2001 19 15
2002 17 19
2003 DNP DNP
2004 27 19
2005 21 19
2006 19 22
2007 14 9
2008 16 15
2009 DNP DNP
2010 13 18
2011 14 16
2012 17 15
2013 16 14
2014 16 22
2015 19 13
2016 DNP DNP
2017 21 19
2018 25 26
TOTALs 274 261
Average 18.3/Game 17.4/Game
Games at Crisler
2001 15 20
2002 DNP DNP
2003 14 20
2004 17 17
2005 14 17
2006 13 26
2007 15 21
2008 DNP DNP
2009 18 16
2010 10 14
2011 18 22
2012 8 12
2013 17 15
2014 18 23
2015 18 18
2016 18 20
2017 11 19
2018 DNP DNP
TOTALs 224 280
Averages 14.9/Game 18.7/Game

We have played 15 games at Breslin and 15 games at Crisler since the 2000-2001 season. There is one game (BTT) from 2014-2015 played at a neutral site. UM had 15 PFs to MSU's 19 PFs. I have excluded that game. 

We do tend to get called more at Breslin than MSU. Out of the 15 games, UM was called for more fouls 9 times (no ties). At Crisler, UM was called for more fouls only 2 times (2 ties as well). 

The bottom line that the data shows is that it is MSU who really should be more angry at playing at Crisler. We get called for ~ 1 more foul/game at Breslin while they get called for ~4 more fouls/game at Crisler!

How do Michigan's Fouls at home and at Breslin relate to their season averages? How do MSU's relate? Well, here are 2 tables:

MICHIGAN Season Fouls and Breslin/Crisler Comparison
Season Total PFs Games Played Average PFs/Game Breslin Crisler
'00-01 607 28 21.7 19 15
'01-02 520 29 17.9 17 DNP
'02-03 552 30 18.4 DNP 14
'03-04 586 34 17.2 27 17
'04-05 501 31 16.2 21 14
'05-06 544 33 16.5 19 13
'06-07 587 35 16.8 14 15
'07-08 483 32 15.1 16 DNP
'08-09 535 35 15.3 DNP 18
'09-10 468 32 14.6 13 10
'10-11 587 35 16.8 14 18
'11-12 530 34 15.6 17 8
'12-13 496 39 12.7 16 17
'13-14 527 37 14.2 16 18
'14-15 455 32 14.2 19 18
'15-16 558 36 15.5 DNP 18
'16-17 571 38 15 21 11
'17-18 313 21 14.9 25 DNP
MSU Season Fouls and Breslin/Crisler Comparison
Season Total PFs Games Played Average PFs/Game Breslin Crisler
'00-01 611 33 18.5 15 20
'01-02 581 31 18.7 19 DNP
'02-03 707 35 20.2 DNP 20
'03-04 630 30 21 19 17
'04-05 640 33 19.4 19 17
'05-06 478 34 14 22 26
'06-07 652 35 18.6 9 21
'07-08 665 36 18.5 15 DNP
'08-09 734 38 19.3 DNP 16
'09-10 666 37 18 18 14
'10-11 648 34 19 16 22
'11-12 650 37 17.6 15 12
'12-13 579 36 16 14 15
'13-14 721 38 19 22 23
'14-15 738 39 19 13 18
'15-16 671 35 19 DNP 20
'16-17 699 35 20 19 19
'17-18 350 19 16.9 26 DNP

For Michigan -

At Breslin, the team was called for more PFs than their season average 10 out of 15 games (67%). For those 15 seasons where Michigan played at Breslin - they averaged 15.96 PFs/game for the season but 18.3 PFs/game at Breslin. So, essentially, playing Breslin costs Michigan an additional 2.5 fouls per game. 

At Crisler, the team was called for more PFs than their season average 6 out of 15 games (40%). In the 15 seasons when they played at home against MSU, Michigan averaged 16.04 PFs/game and only 14.9 PFs/game when playing MSU. Playing at home seems save Michigan 1 PF for the game.

For MSU - 

At Breslin, the team was called for more PFs than their season average 4 out of 15 games (27%). For those 15 seasons where MSU played Michigan at Breslin - they averaged 18.28 PFs/game but only 17.4 PFs/game when playing at Breslin. In other words, MSU is similar to Michigan - playing at home saves them an average of 1 PF compared with their season average.

At Crisler, the team was called for more PFs than their season average 6 out of 15 games (40%). In the 15 seasons when MSU plays us at home, MSU averaged 18.6 PFs/game and only 18.7 PFs/game for the game at Crisler. In other words, MSU meets their season average when playing at Crisler.


The bottom line is that there is a difference between playing at Breslin for Michigan in regards to their season average. It's around 2.5 personal fouls. I would chalk this up to the rivarly and hostility of that building. Even though MSU doesn't go over their season average when playing at Crisler, they will usually get called for 4 more fouls a game. I'll take that home court advantage any day!

So while the Breslin Center may increase our season average for personal fouls, it does not appear that we get called much more than MSU. The flip side for MSU is that they certainly lose out by playing at Crisler. Now THAT's the MICHIGAN difference.

* apologies to statisticians for my lack of appropriate terminology, etc.



January 19th, 2018 at 12:15 PM ^

Lots of good stats, might have been able to shorten this a bit though.

I disagree with your conclusion though. If MSU's PF/game stat is unchanged when they play at Crisler, and that results in a difference of MSU getting 4 more fouls called on them on average, that is not the refs helping Michigan out. That's MSU playing a more foul-prone version of basketball.

kevin holt

January 19th, 2018 at 1:30 PM ^

Yep, agreed. The conclusion isn't that we have a better home-court advantage, it actually means ours is worse because we're called for more than average at Breslin while MSU is called for the average at Crisler. So we have 0 home-court advantage when they visit, which seems about right to my biased memory.


January 19th, 2018 at 1:47 PM ^

Originally I was going to leave the data out, but it's actually quite interesting. Not to mention, it's a pain in the ass to accumulate it, so I thought perhaps if this gets bumped to a diary that someone wouldn't have to reaccumulate any data. 

It is interesting to note that the "Beilein no foul" regime is not as impressive as I thought.

The Maizer

January 19th, 2018 at 2:44 PM ^

I don't understand your point about the "Beilein no foul" regime. Why aren't you impressed?

Only look at the years for which Beilein has coached. He is averaging 14.9 fouls per game at UM. In the same time period, Izzo is averaging 18.4. That's a huge difference.

Caveat: These numbers are based on averaging yearly PF/game numbers, so not exactly correct on a per game basis, but should be very close.


January 19th, 2018 at 12:19 PM ^

One thing you also have to take into account is when the fouls are given.

For example, this year MSU fouled at Breslin more than Michigan.  However, if you watched that game, they fouled how many times in the last 2 minutes while Izzo was eating his own liver.  

Also, you have to take into account that at Breslin, Michigan except for 2011 and 2014 has most likely had to foul to get back into the game via FTs.  

That is a significant skew in some of your data that has to be taken into account.  If you didn't notice how bad TV Teddy and his bunch of striped goons called that game Saturday, then you didn't watch.


January 19th, 2018 at 12:23 PM ^

...purposeful fouls committed towards the end of the game to force free throws. A popular Sparty fan complaint is the greater number of opponent free throws in losses but they don’t factor in the times they purposely fouled to force free throws.

Longballs Dong…

January 19th, 2018 at 12:24 PM ^

but I appreciate the effort. I get really annoyed when people cry about how unfairly UM is treated but it's all anecdotal. This isn't perfect analysis but over 15 years it's about what I would expect for a home and home split with any team. home court matters but it goes both ways. again this OP should be applauded for looking up actual stats and not just complaining about how unfair everything is.

A State Fan

January 19th, 2018 at 12:33 PM ^

Wouldn't W/L record affect this too? I think MSU was called for 1 more foul in this last game, but MSU always was intentionally fouling the last minute, so it was really like 24 M fouls to 19 MSU or so until that point. 

Not that you'd do this research, but fouls in non-intentional fouling time is probably more indicative right?

Wallaby Court

January 19th, 2018 at 12:35 PM ^

Would it be possible to filter your data to remove fouls in the last two minutes of gametime? I know you used box scores, not raw data, but another intrepid MGoBlogger might have that ability. Since your objective is to analyze home court effect on referees, filtering should focus the analysis on referees' chosen calls to the exclusion of end-of-game intentional fouls.


January 19th, 2018 at 12:40 PM ^

I am confused by your conclusion as well like someone else noted. MSU gets called for essentially the same number of fouls at both arenas and both around their season average. Meanwhile Michigan gets called for pretty close to their season average at home but gets called for significantly more at Breslin. This seems to support the idea that we don’t get a fair shake at Breslin more than the opposite.


January 19th, 2018 at 1:55 PM ^

It depends on what your frame of reference is. Do you care about foul parity or ref tendencies per arena? We tend to get called for more fouls at Breslin than our season average by ~2.5 fouls per game. However, the foul differential between Michigan and MSU at Breslin is small (~1 more foul against Michigan).

At Crisler, we are called for less fouls than our season average, but more significantly MSU usually is called for 4 more fouls than we are.

As multiple posters have mentioned, the late game hack-a-Simpson is the great unknown. It would require game flow data which I don't know where to get. That would provide a more accurate measure of bias. 


January 19th, 2018 at 3:30 PM ^

Based on the season averages you've presented, MSU normally commits more fouls than we do, so I'm not sure why we should expect an equal number of fouls to be called. 

When I watch a game, I don't necessarily expect the number of foul calls to be equal.  Some teams play more physically than others, so they'll logically commit more.  I just expect referees to be consistent about how they make their calls - if a hand check is a foul at one end, it should be at the other, too.  But one team might hand check more than the other.


January 19th, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

It may not be especially accurate, but for the sake of brevity...

Maybe you could remove 2-3 PFs from the losing team's total, to try to account for end-of-game fouling.  I would not do this on blow-outs (>15 pts?) or tight games (< 3 pts?), as late-game fouling may not occur in those instances.  

Supa Hot Fire

January 19th, 2018 at 12:46 PM ^

I'd be curious how it relates to each referee crew. Additionally, its not just number of fouls at Breslin, but more of the inconsistency in calls. MSU clearly plays more physically at Breslin and still gets a similar number of fouls. The severity of what is called is the huge difference the way I see it

JWG Wolverine

January 19th, 2018 at 1:03 PM ^

For me, it isn’t the amount of fouls we get at Breslin, but the type of fouls that they call that is my point of concern. It’s like for some reason they have a set of special rules there, and the first one is that you can’t touch each other.

It may just feel like it is a lot of fouls because there are generally a lot more noticable fouls there, because of their occasional absurdity.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:06 PM ^

we have the fewest free throw attempts in BIg play and the second lowest % made. 

Under Beilein, we do not play well when the refs let people hack, grab and play D with hands on.  We do not seem to guage the permissiveness of the refs very well or adjust to what they are allowing very well in these kinds of games.


January 19th, 2018 at 8:20 PM ^

The Beilein teams since the championship game run seem to be getting the shaft @ Breslin the worst.

This obviously means he's living rent free in Izzo's head.

Need another column o data for how far Izzo is allowed onto the court/towards scorers table. (kidding... Mostly)