2010-11 Season Analytical Writings


SEC Final Standings in 2011

The 96 regular season games are now in the books, and there is no longer any need to speculate about who will win the SEC East and West. Florida has won the SEC regular season title, and Alabama has controlled the SEC West. Mississippi State and Kentucky have earned the #2 spots in each of the Divisions, with respect to the first round byes for the upcoming SEC Tournament that begins on Thursday in Atlanta.


The SEC Tournament opens on Thursday afternoon with 4 first round games, followed Friday with those four winners taking on the first and second place divisional seeds in the Quarterfinal round. The Semi-finals are Saturday with the Championship game on Sunday afternoon. You can track the entire SEC Tournament at:

where the brackets and scores will be updated shortly after the conclusion of each game. While the details of the team data and the game by game projections are provided, the following summary table provides a quick overview of the entire tournament. These projections indicate Kentucky winning the championship by defeating Mississippi, Alabama, and then Florida. Kentucky has a 33% probability of winning the tournament based on these projected game margins.

SEC Game Margins in 2011

Throughout the year, we have heard about how the SEC season has been marked by a majority of games have been close. However, has that really been the case? Certainly, many games in any league will finish with a margin of 5 points or less, but the vast majority of games do not fall in this category. There have been 5 games decided by 1 point, 15 games by 2 or 3 points, and 10 games by 4 or 5 points. Kentucky was involved in 6 of those 30 close finishes, which has certainly seemed to be a disproportionate share. However, Tennessee has been involved in 7 such games, Arkansas has been in 6, Alabama 6, Vandy has been in 5, Mississippi State 6, Florida 5, and Auburn 5. Only LSU, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina have been involved in a below average 3 or 4 such games. However, 34 games have been decided by 11 or more points, 12 of which saw margins greater than 20 points. The average margin of victory for games has been 10.1 points. The average margin in games involving SEC East teams was 8.3 ppg and for SEC West teams it was 12.0 ppg.

Kentucky has posted the largest average game margin [win or lose] at 7.8 ppg. Five of the 6 SEC East teams ended with average margins above 0.0 ppg, the Conference average, and only South Carolina had an average margin [-6.3 ppg] below zero. In the West, the opposite is true, and only Alabama (5.4 ppg) ended with an average Margin above zero. The lowest average margin in the SEC in 2011 belongs to LSU at -12.6 ppg.

One last aspect of margins that I find interesting is the difference between average margin at home and away for the 12 SEC teams. The average “home court advantage” defined as the average margin at home – average margin on the road is 5.2 points per game in 2011. Kentucky led the way in this measure with +16.3 ppg. Seven of the 12 teams ended the season with “home court advantages” between 4.8 ppg [Auburn] and 10.0 ppg [Arkansas and Alabama]. The worst home court advantages in 2011 belonged to Mississippi [+2.8 ppg], LSU [+2.8 ppg], Tennessee [-2.8 ppg], and Vanderbilt [-2.9 ppg].



SEC Home/Away Winning and Losing in 2011

The home team has won 57 of the 96 games in 2011, which means that the visiting team managed to get a road win 39 times, or 40.6% of all games. In 2011, 6 of the 12 SEC teams managed to win 4 or more of their road games [Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama) and Florida led the way with 6 road wins, and Tennessee was close behind with 5 road wins. The other 6 teams only won 2 games each in 2011. At home, three of the 12 teams won 7 or 8 of their 8 home games. Kentucky and Alabama led the way as the only teams to hold serve at home, followed by Florida with 7. The poorest home records were posted by Tennessee and South Carolina with 3 home wins each, Auburn with 2 home wins, and LSU with only 1 home win. The remaining five teams each won at home 5 of their 8 home games.

In games decided by 1 point, the visiting team holds a 3-2 advantage, but when we expand to the 5 point margin, the home team gains a decided advantage, 18-12, over the visitors. In games decided by 11 points or more, the home team holds a more modest 19-15 advantage. In the predominant range of 6 to 10 point games, the home team won 20 times while losing 12 times.

Over the course of many years, I have observed that upsets occur in about ¼ of all major college basketball games. However, in a competitive conference where teams have similar strength and talent, the upset rate should be higher than the general average for all games. In the SEC in 2011, 35 of the 96 games were technically “Upsets” in that the team favored to win prior to the game failed to win. That is an upset rate of 36.5%. UK is the only team not to experience an upset at home this season, and Alabama had one home game that produced an upset, Alabama beating Kentucky. Two teams had 5 of the 8 home games result in upset outcomes, Tennessee and Mississippi State. Three teams had 2 home games with upset outcomes, and two teams had 3 upsets at home, and three teams had 4 upsets at home. An upset at a home venue does not necessarily mean that the home team lost, only that the favored team lost. In 13 of the 35 upsets, the home team won despite being the underdog, and in the other 22 upsets, the visiting team won as an underdog.

The fact that Kentucky did not participate in an upset game at home does not mean that UK was immune from the upset bug. In fact, UK was involved in 5 of 8 games on the road that ended with an upset outcome. Georgia and Mississippi State were next with 4 upset road games each, followed by Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Arkansas with 3 upset game each on the road. Vanderbilt, Auburn, and LSU had 2 such road games, and Alabama had only 1. In total, the 35 upsets involve 70 opponents, home and away, and the average number of such “upset” games would be almost 6 for the season. Mississippi State led the way with a total of 9 such games in which it participated. Tennessee was involved with 8 upset outcomes, and Mississippi and Arkansas 7 games each. The fewest games by a single team was 2 by Alabama, followed by 4 each for Auburn, Vanderbilt and Florida. Kentucky, Florida, and Vanderbilt had 5 such games each, South Carolina and Georgia had 6 each, and Auburn finished with 4.



In the Upset Wars of the 2011 SEC Season, UK and Vanderbilt were the big losers (-5), and Mississippi State the big winner (+7). The SEC West ended +5 and the East of course ended at -5. Six of the 12 SEC teams finished the season within +/- 2 games of the preseason predictions.

SEC East/West Winning and Losing in 2011

Prior to this SEC season, most observers said that the SEC East was far superior to the SEC West. The actual SEC East v West matchups this season were controlled by the East, 24-12 [66.7%]. In the 18 games played on the SEC West home floors, the East won 10 and lost 8. In the 18 games played on the East home floors, the East won 14 and lost 4. The four SEC West teams that secured those rare road wins over SEC East opponents were Arkansas [over Vanderbilt by 11], Mississippi State [over Tennessee by 1], Alabama [over Tennessee by 5], and Auburn [over South Carolina by 15]. Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky were undefeated at home against their SEC West opponents. Alabama was undefeated at home against its 3 SEC East opponents, and Arkansas and Mississippi State each won 2 of their 3 games. Ole Miss won one time in three [Kentucky], and neither Auburn nor LSU managed a single win. Only Kentucky lost all three of its road games against SEC West opponents, and only Vanderbilt was undefeated in its 3 SEC West road games. Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia won 2 of their 3 SEC West road games, and South Carolina only won one of their three.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks


Submitted by Richard Cheeks


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