BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2011-12 Season Analytical Writings
For those who hold the view that a late season loss is necessary for a championship run, the Cats yielded to their wishes and delivered on that loss in the Championship game of the SEC Tournament on Sunday when Vanderbilt overcame a late 6 point deficit to win by 7. For those who don't buy in to the good loss theory, the loss raises doubts about this team's focus as it begins the most important, and most perilous portion of the basketball season, the NCAA Tournament where the season ends when you lay another egg.
The Vegas odds makers clearly don't regard the late season loss as a good or bad omen as they have had the Cats as a 2:1 favorite to win this tournament for the last several weeks, and after last Sunday's loss, the Vegas odds did not change. The Cats enter the NCAA play on the pole position in the Pomeroy efficiency based ratings, and the Cats had to yield one spot to Syracuse in the fundamentally flawed RPI rating system. No matter how you cut this, especially with the Syracuse loss of Melo, this is the Cats' tournament to lose.
The journey begins with the first and second round games in Louisville's YUM Center. On Thursday, the Cats take on in-state Western Kentucky as a prohibitive favorite, and on Saturday, the Cats will play the winner of Thursday's 8-9 war between Iowa State and 2010-11 nemesis UConn. Presuming the Cats advance to the Sweet 16, they will play in Atlanta against either Wichita State or their long time rivals from across the Ohio River, Indiana. If the Cats advance to the Elite 8, also in Atlanta, their likely foe will be either Baylor, or in the irony of irony, Duke on the 20 th anniversary of the greatest game ever played.
Get past those 4 games, and the Cats will head back to New Orleans for a repeat appearance in the Final Four with a legitimate opportunity to accomplish what last year's team was unable to finish, and to win a championship that denied them the SEC Championship this past Sunday. What goes around comes around, and this tournament is set up to those come uppins. UConn, Indiana, Duke, and New Orleans.
First up for the journey is Western Kentucky. Western comes to this game with 16-18 record, and the winner of their last 7 games, and 11 of their last 15. 11-4 after a start of 5-14. WKU's most impressive win of the season has been a 6 point win over #61 Middle Tennessee. Their most embarrassing loss has been to #262 Troy twice, home and away.
WESTERN KENTUCKY has played 34 games at an average pace of about 69 possessions, averaging 65.1 ppg and allowing 68.0 ppg. This translates to an offensive efficiency of 0.942 points per possession and a defensive efficiency of 0.982 ppp. Contributing to those efficiencies are WESTERN KENTUCKY's turnover and rebounding rates. WESTERN KENTUCKY's turnover rate has been 21.8% while they have forced turnovers at a 21.1% rate. On the Boards, WESTERN KENTUCKY's offensive and defensive rebounding rates have been 33.6% and 67.2% respectively. WESTERN KENTUCKY's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.494.
As a basis of comparison, UK's performance against its first 34 opponents produced 66 possessions, and a score of 76.7 to 68.0 ppg for efficiencies of 1.149 ppp and 0.894 ppp on the offensive and defensive ends. Contributing to those efficiencies are Kentucky's turnover and rebounding rates. UK's turnover rate is 17.0% and UK has forced turnovers at a 18.1% rate. On the boards, the Cats posted rates of 38.5% and 69.0% at the offensive and defensive ends. Kentucky's schedule strength prior to this game is 0.667
The NGE analysis indicates a game played at a pace of about 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for WESTERN KENTUCKY with the Cats winning their thirty third game in thirty five starts this season by 26 points, 80-54. The analysis projects an offensive efficiency of 1.176 ppp and a defensive efficiency of 0.794 ppp.
After leading by as many as 30 points (72-42), the Cats allow WKU to trim the final margin to 15 points, 81-66.
UK scored its 81 points in 69 possessions [1.174 ppp] for the game, and WESTERN KENTUCKY scored its 66 points on 71 possessions [0.930 ppp].
KENTUCKY won the battle of the boards, 39-30, but WKU won the battle of the offensive glass 10-9. Kentucky won the second chance points battle 11-5. WESTERN KENTUCKY had an offensive efficiency of 0.859 ppp on its 71 first chance possessions and 0.500 ppp for its 10-second chance possessions. UK had 1.014 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and 1.222 ppp on its 9 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 31.0% of its misses as offensive rebounds while WESTERN KENTUCKY was able to convert 25.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game by making 18-25 [72.0%]. WESTERN KENTUCKY made 10-16 [62.5%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-54 overall [55.6%] and 3-10 from long range [30.0%]. For WESTERN KENTUCKY, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong 19-48 [39.6%] and from long range, WESTERN KENTUCKY hit 6-15 [40.0%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.8 possessions. The Cats forced 10 WESTERN KENTUCKY turnovers, one for every 7.1 possessions.
Prior to the game, the NGE analysis predicted a 26 point UK win, 80-54 at a pace of 68 possessions for UK and 68 possessions for WESTERN KENTUCKY. The final score was 81 (80) to 66 (54) at a pace of 69 possessions for the Cats and 71 possessions for WESTERN KENTUCKY. The Cats' offensive efficiency was 1.174 ppp (C) and the Cats' defensive efficiency was 0.930 ppp (D-).
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament against the winner of Thursday's 8-9 matchup between Iowa State and UConn.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks