Four Factors Analysis

Now that college basketball season is over it’s a great time to look at some of the data it generated this past season. One of the places I started was looking at the four factors. What does the data tell us about how college basketball is played?

First a few graphs. Here are histograms that break every team’s four factors on offense (blue) and defense (green) into buckets in order to give us a sense of the continuum of college basketball.

efg_off_def oreb_off_def to_off_defftr_off_def

What do all these graphs tell us? All sorts of interesting stuff. The most interesting one? The standard deviation for offensive and defensive rebounding and free throw rates are rather different. For offensive rebounding teams are smushed together on the defensive end. On the other end, there’s a wider variety of free throw rates on the defensive side of the ball. The variance on free throw rate is huge.

What teams were particularly large outliers (>3 standard deviations above or below the mean) last season?

  • Offensive eFG%: Creighton (58.2%)
  • Offensive TO%: Grambling (26.7%), Savannah St. (27.2%)
  • Offensive OR%: Minnesota (43.8%), Rice (19.2%)
  • Offensive FTR: Villanova (50.6)
  • Defensive eFG%: no one
  • Defensive TO%: VCU (28.5%) – Louisville is right on +3 standard deviations
  • Defensive OR%: no one
  • Defensive FTR: Southern Utah (57.0), Morehead St. (59.4)

Most of these are explainable. Grambling’s offense was historically awful. VCU’s Havoc system is designed to just create turnovers. Creighton had Doug McDermott. Rice didn’t have any players. Minnesota’s offensive rebounding is an absolutely mind-blowing accomplishment. To play in the Big Ten and that consistently get offensive rebounds is super impressive. Villanova’s ability to get to the free throw line is also rather impressive. It went up during Big East play to 52.1, so this isn’t like they went to the free throw line a bunch against teams that were overmatched athletically.

I’ll be diving into more data in the future.

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