Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

From the Pressbox: Tom Leach crunches numbers with Ken Pomeroy

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

There are thousands of college basketball blogs out there on the sports landscape but one that has gained increasingly more respect in the media is kenpom.com.

Ken Pomeroy is the founder and he began his site with a goal of finding a more objective way to measure the performance of teams and to compare them with others.  

"I really track the same things that everyone tracks; I just do it in a more logical way," Pomeroy told "The Leach Report" radio show last week. "I take the pace of play out of the equation so, if it is a fast team, then they score more points and have more of an opportunity to do so, but they will also give up a lot of points so, their defense will probably be poorly evaluated."

Pomeroy looks at stats like points per possession on offense and defense, and Kentucky is a team that has consistently ranked higher in the kenpom.com numbers than the national rankings would suggest (UK is 10th in Pomeroy's last survey).

Washington is another school that Pomeroy has rated higher than its record would suggest and he said he gets a lot of pushback from fans regarding both teams.

"If anybody has followed my ratings closely this year or has followed my Twitter page specifically (@kenpomeroy), I have been given a lot of flak for Kentucky and Washington," Pomeroy said. "They both seem out of place from the traditional media polls. One of the reasons that the general public is not as high on them as I am is to look at how they have played on the road, and that hasn't been very good."

A familiar national championship winning team had a similar profile last season.

"That got me to thinking, is there something to this? Is this a reasonable opinion? Should I be giving more stock in these things? I have looked at this before and never seen anything that would justify that, so I decided to go back and look at teams which basically had a similar profile like Kentucky and Washington have this year and one of the teams I came up on was Duke last season.

"I remember leading into the tournament last season, one of the criticisms was that they were a different team at home than they were on the road, like Kentucky this year. (Duke) had been dominant at home, but on the road, they were pretty poor. They lost to teams that were not close to tournament consideration and lost to them big, so that was one example to me that said, you probably shouldn't be closing the door on Kentucky."

Pomeroy went back another season and found Missouri in 2009 as another team with a similar profile. The Tigers upset John Calipari's Memphis team that year in the semifinals before falling in the Elite Eight.

(Sportingnews.com college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy was intrigued by Pomeroy's analysis and did some research on how road performance relates to NCAA success. Decourcy told "The Leach Report" that he looked back five years and could not find any team with a losing road record during the season that made it to a Final Four. And several teams in that category lost earlier than expected.)

One of Pomeroy's numbers where Kentucky shows up poorly is "luck." How does he quantify that component?

"Luck comes down to how well you compete in close games," Pomeroy said. "You would expect a team as good as Kentucky to do pretty well in close game. You aren't going to win them all, regardless of how good you are or how good your coach is, but it doesn't work that way. There are some things out of your control, so you expect good teams to win most of their close games. But with Kentucky, they have lost most of their close games, which is surprising but not unheard of for a good team, so that is where the luck rating comes out of. Sometimes you expect luck to even out over the course of the season."

When asked to summarize the Wildcats' profile, Pomeroy said UK is a team that is better on offense than it is on defense. 

"I have them rated right now in the top 10 offensively and struggling defensively," Pomeroy said. "They are ranked somewhere in the 30-to-40 range and the one statistic that comes out is that they don't force a lot of turnovers and that is kind of typical of a John Calipari team. Calipari teams don't force many turnovers and last year, they didn't force too many turnovers. What is strange is that their two-point defense is excellent. They hold opponents to 41 percent shooting and the national average is about 48 percent. Kentucky ranks fifth nationally in that they are not a team that has a dominant inside presence that they had last year but they are still very good inside the paint."

How do the kenpom.com numbers compare with the RPI?

"The main difference is that I account for margin of victory," Pomeroy said. "The idea behind my system is that I want people to understand who the best teams are going forward from today. Incorporating margin of victory, you can make that more reliable than just who a team has lost to. Another difference between my system and the RPI is that - and a lot of people don't know this - but in the strength of schedule category on the RPI, it doesn't account for where the game is played, so it doesn't account for home-court advantage or anything like that. My system does that and it is obviously included on how a team is evaluated." 

Pomeroy said the NCAA selection committee gets his numbers but he believes it weighs the RPI more heavily in its evaluations.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/16580

Leave a comment




Recent Comments