Saturday, January 19, 2013

Arizona State

When  I sat down to crunch the numbers for this game, I so badly wanted to learn that it would be an easy win.  Unfortunately, I cannot say that it will be.  Not only are the Sun Devils much improved over last year, but the Cats have been slipping somewhat, especially on the defensive end.   In a raw comparison of statistics, we are the better offensive team, and they are perhaps slightly better defensively.  You have to keep in mind, however, that that we have played a much more difficult schedule.  Ken Pomeroy puts ASU's strength of schedule at #317 and ours at #25.  Still, they have put up some decent numbers.

The team from Tempe has shot the ball very well from inside the arc, with a 2% advantage over the Cats.  We have been better from three and the free throw line.  Overall, our offense is  more efficient, measured by points per shot or possession.  The Sun Devils have allowed a lower percentage of shots to fall on defense and fewer points per shot.  Points per possession allowed on defense, however, is even at 0.91.  We are taller, and have been much stronger rebounding the ball, especially on the offensive glass. They turn the ball over less frequently.  The two teams are more or less identical in experience. If there is one major advantage we have, it is depth.  The Sun Devils rely heavily on their starting five, who get about 80% of the team's minutes.

When I simulate this one, the Cats are favorites, but that advantage is slight.  This is after all a road game, even if it is one that only requires a short bus trip up Interstate 10.   Here's what the simulation says.  Arizona has a 61.1% chance of victory and is a four point favorite.  The most likely score is 72-68.  I should note that both KenPom and Vegas are a bit more optimistic about our chances, at least at the time of writing this.  KenPom predicts a 70-63 win, and Vegas says we should win by six.  At times like this, I would prefer to just ignore the numbers and say that we're going to win by 20.

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