By the Numbers: Kansas at Nebraska

The Jayhawks put their two-game road winning streak on the line against the Cornhuskers. Do the numbers predict it will stretch to three?

Analysis: Last 5 Venue-Appropriate Games

The charts below illustrate the performance for each team over their last 5 venue-appropriate games.  The red bar represents each team's current Sagarin Predictor rating, which represents overall team strength.  The "Performance" is calculated by taking the opponent's Sagarin rating for the game and adding (subtracting) the margin of victory (loss) for each game.  Homecourt advantage is also factored into the equation.

 

In this analysis, Kansas has significantly underperformed its season average by about 6.6 points.  But the trend for improvement in non-home games is very clear now for the Jayhawks. Every game since the Arizona game has shown an improvement over the last.  In fact, the last two road games have proven to be better performances than their season average.  Still, only twice in their last five non-home games has Kansas performed at a level equal to or better than Nebraska's average expected home performance.

 

In contrast, the Cornhuskers have performed much better than their season average at home, by approximately 6.5 points.  They have done so consistently, playing very near or above their season average level in all of their last five home games.  Nebraska actually played well above KU's average expected road performance level in their two best games during that stretch (KSU and MU).

 

In summary, over the last five venue-appropriate games for each team, Nebraska has performed 5.8 points better than Kansas.  Even though season average Sagarin ratings would suggest a 3.5-point edge for the Jayhawks, this specific analysis of the last five games gives NU well over a 9-point advantage.

 

Opponent Four Factor Analysis

Based on the cumulative season boxscore for the opponent, we can look at the Four Factors to see where the team has derived the bulk of its (dis)advantage in terms of scoring margin versus its opponents to date.  Here is the breakdown for Nebraska:

 

Nebraska

Opp

Advantage

 

eFG%

52.45%

47.42%

89.1

 

TO Rate

18.37%

28.22%

110.6

 

OREB%

23.81%

30.95%

-39.3

 

FT Rate

26.47%

27.35%

-7.5

FT Pct

 

 

 

17.5

FT Attempts

ANALYSIS:  Nebraska has done an amazing job of capitalizing on its turnovers advantage.  Despite a healthy eFG% advantage, it's the TO's that have been the single largest difference maker.  While the FT line has essentially been a wash, the Cornhuskers need major work on the boards if they want to be competitive in their remaining conference games.

Statistical Strengths and Weaknesses Analysis

These advantages are based on raw statistics derived from Kenpom.com scouting reports for each team.  In cases where one team's ranking in a category is strong where the other team's corresponding ranking is weak, an advantage is projected.  For example, if Team A has a #30-rated eFG%, while Team B has a #280-rated eFG% defense, then Team A would be projected to have an advantage in eFG% for the game.

 

Clear Advantage for Kansas

Nebraska OREB

Kansas FT%

Nebraska % own 2FGA's blocked**

Kansas 2pt FG%**

Kansas FT Rate

Kansas % own 2FGA's blocked

Nebraska PTS/Poss**

Kansas eFG%**

 

 Clear Advantage for Nebraska

 Nebraska 3pt FG%**

 Nebraska TO rate**

 Nebraska FT%

 Kansas TO rate**

 

Game Outlook

It is fortunate for the Jayhawks that their eFG% and OREB% have been the two most significant correlates to their offensive efficiency.  As it turns out, both of those are expected to be significant advantages against Nebraska.  They should also be able to shut down NU's point production through a variety of means, the two most obvious being the ability to shut down NU's second-chance opportunities and blocking their shots.

Keep in mind, though, that this is not expected to be an easy victory for KU by any stretch.  In fact, the specific analysis in this article, looking at the last five venue-appropriate games, actually gives NU a significant edge for this game.  How would such an upset happen?  It is clear that NU would have to shoot lights out from the 3-pt line and enjoy a spectacular advantage in turnovers.  Naturally, there is a chance that tons of turnovers by KU would lead to NU fast breaks, thereby boosting the Nebraska eFG%.

Both teams are expected to make their free throws when they get to the line, which should mean an advantage for KU, which has an edge in FTA/FGA ratio.

In summary, look for Kansas to do everything well on offense except for hanging on to the ball.  Meanwhile, Nebraska should shoot a high percentage from behind the arc.

Sagarin ratings source: USAToday.com


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