Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vandy and Basketball "Luck"

So I'm watching Vandy lose at home to Dayton, and I'm mad because Vandy just blew a big lead at Baylor (they lost 69-67), and now this third non-conference loss will kill their chances of a decent seed in the NCAA's, even if they are 12th on Ken Pom right now.

So I'm watching this game, and I'm thinking that Vandy almost always seems to lose a bunch of close games every year, and that this is a big part of why my support for Kevin Stallings has waned.  Look at these scores from Vandy's last three trips to the NCAA Tournament:

03/18/10:  Murray St. 66, Vandy 65
03/17/11:  Richmond 69, Vandy 66
03/17/12:  Wisconsin 60, Vandy 57

So then I got to thinking, "But wait, Ken Pom has that Luck score, which lets you see whether a team is losing a whole lot of close games.  If a team does better than its stats would indicate, it shows up as luck.  If it does worse than the stats would indicate, it shows up as bad luck."

Most teams' Luck Scores bounce all over the place from one year to next, showing that their performance in close games is strongly affected by chance.  For example, here's Kentucky:

2010:  43d in the country (that was a lucky team – until it played WVU)
2011:  284 (that team lost a bunch of close games -- until the tournament)
2012:  84
2013:  193
2014:  238
2015:  69
2016:  208

See?  The Cats are all over the place.  But look at Vandy over the same period:

2010:  115
2011:  296
2012:  279
2013:  248
2014:  136
2015:  345 (This team went 19-13, and their close losses cost them a trip to the NCAA's)
2016:  314

That doesn't look like "luck" at all – that looks like a team that loses a lot of close games, year after year.  From 2010 through 2015, UK's "Luck" score averaged out to 152 -- right in the middle of the pack.  Vandy's averaged out to 237.  As I thought.

And that's why I don't watch Vandy play very often.


  1. even "old" Vandy fans always have a place in their hearts for Vandy basketball. Maybe its the gym: you know I once played there in another time in a red and black uniform.

  2. "Boo" Eric!!! Just a thought, sorry.

  3. The press area is--or was, at least--in glass high at the top of the arena, more like a football stadium. I don't remember anyone else for basketball games putting the press anywhere else but the seats around the court. Anyway, so you're looking down over this basketball lab, and the sound of the sneakers and the crowd is muffled by the windows. It was always like being on what I imagine a press junket hosted by the Soviet sports program to have been like. "And here are our basketball athletes. As you can all clearly see, they are all very happy, healthy and well-treated. Now let's move on to the handball facility ..."

  4. It's made for the fans, not for the press.

  5. It would've been great had they made it for a standard game of basketball.