Another week of college basketball is in the books, and we have some bigger sample sizes to consider now. Most teams have still played only about one-fifth of their regular-season games, but conference play is drawing near and interest in college hoops will pick up during football’s bowl season.
That means it is a good time to take stock of some of these teams. Last week I introduced some stats about midrange shooting and near-proximity shots. Those will continue to be key parts of my handicap, but I wanted to work in some other things to consider this week. Where applicable, I’ll still throw in those stats, but there is a lot of good data out there for college basketball.
Evaluating Strength of Schedule
One thing you’ll want to start paying attention to as December goes along is strength of schedule. Places like Ken Pom, Bart Torvik, Haslametrics and Sagarin provide different strength-of-schedule metrics. A lot of the stat sites do adjust for quality of competition or assume the stats against an average opponent, but some teams have been tested a lot more than others, particularly in the Group of 5.
Bellarmine, for example, has already played Purdue, Murray State, Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, UCLA and West Virginia. The Knights’ next three games are against lower-division teams. It will take a long time for a lot of their non-adjusted metrics to improve after playing such a hard slate, but you’ll want to consider that, especially when conference play hits.
On the flip side, Texas Tech has played basically nobody of consequence, though that changes this week with Providence and Tennessee. Winning every game by 15 or more points over North Florida, Grambling, Prairie View A&M, Incarnate Word, Omaha and Lamar will always make a team look good, but playing legitimate teams will be a real test. The Red Raiders also have Gonzaga on the horizon Dec. 18.