By the Numbers: Kansas at Oklahoma

Amidst the uncertainty of Blake Griffin's status, first place in the Big XII standings hangs in the balance as the Jayhawks visit the Sooners. Let's look at the numbers behind this huge showdown.


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.  The black line represents the linear trend over the last five games for the team. If slanted upwards, it means the team has generally been playing better each game.


Keep in mind that, unless stated otherwise, these analyses all assume that Blake Griffin is playing and healthy.  Recognizing the very real possibility of his absence, the game outlook section near the end looks at the potential impact of such an absence.


In this analysis, Kansas has outperformed its season average by a healthy 5.5 points.  In fact, the Jayhawks have performed better than their season average in every one of their last five road games, with the most recent (Kansas St.) being the best.  Another encouraging sign is that the trend is clearly positive.  In three of the last five road games, Kansas has performed at a level above Oklahoma's season average expected home performance level.


In contrast, the Sooners have not lived up to their season average in their last five home games, underperforming it by about 1.8 points.  They have come in under their season average in three of the five games, although not in the most recent game (Texas Tech).  Still, the trend over the last five home games is clearly negative.  What is nice about that homecourt edge, though, is the margin for error it creates.  Thus, only twice in the last five home games has OU performed at a level below the Jayhawks' expected season average road performance.


In summary, over the last five games for each team, Kansas has been 7.5 points better than Oklahoma.  Although looking at season average ratings would lead one to believe Oklahoma is about a 3.5-point favorite, this specific analysis gives a 3.8-point edge to the visiting Jayhawks based on the last five venue-appropriate games.


Highlighted Efficiency Rankings
Note: There are 344 Div-I teams


Offense #23 - Defense #9 - Tempo #79
Usually win the all-important eFG% battle (#19 eFG%, #9 opp eFG%)
Terrible ball handling (#267 TO%)
Particularly good at controlling 2FG% (#27 own, #10 opp)
Control offensive rebounding on both sides (#38 own, #34 limit opp)
Excellent perimeter shooting (#36 in 3FG%)
Great job on defense of BLK (#31)
Allow opp high % of FG's assisted (#272)

Size (Tall = Position is Top 50 in minutes-weighted height, Short = #250 or worse)
Tall: C
Short: SF
Effective Height: #36

Other Factors:

Team is #335 in experience
Team is #270 in Bench Minutes
Unusually high/low % of points scored by positions:  Hi - PG ... Lo - SG, SF

Individual Player Highlights: (thru Feb 15)

Sherron Collins - #126 AST rate
Brady Morningstar - #61 eFG%
Cole Aldrich - #54 eFG%, #155 OREB%, #13 DREB%, #36 BLK%
Marcus Morris - #27 OREB%, #110 STL%, #147 PF's drawn/40 min


Offense #4 - Defense #51 - Tempo #71
Usually win the all-important eFG% battle (#9 eFG%, #32 opp eFG%)
Rarely force TO's (#283 opp TO%)
Control attempts at FT line on both ends (#9 own FTA/FGA, #33 limit opp FTA/FGA)
Particularly good at controlling 2FG% (#7 own, #15 opp)
Avoid having own shots blocked (#13)

Size (Tall = Position is Top 50 in minutes-weighted height, Short = #250 or worse)
Tall: C, SF, SG
Short: None

Other Factors:

Team is #338 in Bench Minutes
Unusually high/low % of points scored by positions:  Hi - C ... Lo - PG, PF, SF

Individual Player Highlights: (thru Feb 15)

Blake Griffin - #21 eFG%, #87 OREB%, #3 DREB%, #25 FT Rate
Willie Warren - #149 eFG%
Taylor Griffin - #100 FT Rate

Scoring Distribution:

On offense, KU relies somewhat less on 3FG's, while its opponents rely unusually low on 2FG's.
On offense, OU relies more than usual on FT's, while its opponents rely unusually heavily on 3FG's.


Game Outlook

With or without Blake Griffin, no one should expect a blowout in either direction.  There is too much at stake, and both teams are too talented.  That doesn't mean a blowout is impossible, just unlikely.  Let's examine the outlook with and without Blake Griffin in the lineup.

With Griffin, the game projects to be very, very tight.  If you look at polls, then Oklahoma would be a hands-down favorite.  After all, they have only lost two games, one of which was on the road when their Mr. Everything was injured most of the game.  A closer look at the results of each game, though, shows a much more even picture.  Pure scoring margin computer ratings (Pomeroy, Sagarin Predictor are examples) have a much better track record at predicting games than those that take wins and losses into account.  And those systems are showing KU to be a stronger team than OU.  With homecourt advantage, it should still be a very close game that is OU's to lose, but it's not as clear-cut a case for the Sooners.

We'd expect the Sooners to have an overwhelming advantage in free throws attempted (and consequently, points scored from there) along with a small advantage in turnovers.  After all, who hasn't been winning the turnover game against Kansas these days?  The numbers suggest that KU has a very slight field-goal shooting advantage as well as a modest advantage on the boards.  All this adds up to a razor-thin margin.  Overtime could very well be in order if these chips fall into place.

If OU doesn't have Blake Griffin, then obviously things change dramatically.  OU is one of the nation's worst in terms of depth.  Willie Warren would become the focal point of the offense, while Blake's brother, Taylor, would probably have more defensive impact than usual.  Using player ratings at, removing Blake Griffin's expected scoring margin impact and replacing it with more minutes played by others in the rotation, one analysis gives an approximate edge of 6 points in KU's direction.  If the game was projected to be overtime-worthy with Griffin, it would be safe to assume the Jayhawks should be the favorites in his absence.

Sagarin ratings source: Top Stories