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2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
Little Baron, in a private communication yesterday, asked, “How would the 2013-14 Cats do if they played the 2012-13 Cats?” In response, I dug into the Big Blue Fans archives to obtain a theoretical answer based on NGE analysis. I extended Little Baron's question to include all Calipari Era teams. The analyses produced results that the Big Blue Nation may find interesting.
I have compiled data for each of the Calipari Era's five teams through their first 22 games. The following table provides the Adjusted NGE and schedule strength at that point in time for the five teams. I also added the year-end values for the first four teams (the 2014 end of year chapters remain unwritten). The relationship between the year-end Adjusted NGE and the year-end finish seems inescapable. The higher the year end Adjusted NGE, the further the team advanced into the NCAA Tournament. Then I computed the probable margins between these teams as they stood each after 22 games, and how they stood each at the end of their seasons. Finally, I computed how much NET scoring improvement (decline) each of these first four teams experienced after their 22 nd game. Those values are shown in the table's last 3 columns.
As the numbers stand after 22 games, this team has a very similar statistical profile as the 2010 and 2013 teams, with 2010 being marginally better and 2013 being marginally weaker than this team at this stage. Furthermore, the 2011 and 2012 teams at this stage were also very similar, and each a cut above the other 3 teams after their 22 nd games.
The real differences between these teams did not emerge until the stretch run of these seasons. In 2010, the team improved by 1-point margins, while the 2011 team declined by 1-point margins. The 2013 team declined by 4-point margins after game 22. In my opinion, that entire decline is attributable to Nerlens Noel going down. In the games immediately prior to Nerlen's injury, the 2013 team was showing measurable signs of improving their margins. In my opinion, that team would have ended the season with an improvement of 1 to 2 points after game 22 if Nerlens had not been injured. The 2012 team surged as it entered the final 1/3 of the regular season, and by season end, it was 3 ½ points better than it had been after game 22.
Of course, the final chapters for the 2014 edition of Cal's Cats remain unwritten, and the team will write those chapters over the next 7 to 9 weeks. If there is no change, this is a Sweet 16 caliber team. The range of improvement/decline after game 22 has been between +/- 4 points, and if this team could improve by the +4 points as it finishes the season, it could become a final four team, and compete for the championship. To be able to win the championship, the improvement would need to be closer to 7 points than 4 points. However, a decline of 4 points between now and selection Sunday could send the Cats to their second straight NIT. The more likely change of +/- 1 point would make this team a sweet 16 team to an Elite 8 team.
I am sure the entire nation will be watching the Cats to detect any signs of a season ending surge that could lift them back into the Final Four conversation.
Next Game On Schedule: Saturday afternoon against Mississippi State in Starkville.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks