# And Then There Were Four

## Analyzing the Semifinal Match-ups

Over the last couple of weeks, 64 of the 68 schools invited to the men’s college basketball tournament have seen their championship dreams dashed, which leaves four teams competing for the right to cut down the nets. Using the Qlik Bracket Challenge app, I wanted to look at the remaining match-ups to see if we could identify areas of each match-up that would be critical to each team’s success.

Before we dive into the match-ups, I wanted to explain how we calculated our Power Stats for each match-up. I’ll break it down into offensive stats and defensive stats.

Offensive Stats: These are derived from Dean Oliver’s Four Factors to winning basketball games. Each stat carries a weight.

SHOOTING (40%)– This stat calculates effective shooting %.

BALL PROTECTION (25%) – This is the turnover %.

OFF REBS (20%) – This is the Offensive Rebounding %.

FT RATE (15%) – This is rate at which a team gets to the free throw line and how many of those free throws they make.

Defensive Stats: Taking into effect the offensive stats used to win basketball games, we added defensive stats to show how a team’s opponents fared against them in those categories.

DEFENSE – The effective shooting % of that team’s opponents.

FORCED TOS – The turnover rate of a team’s opponents.

DEF REBS – The defensive rebounding rate of a team’s opponents.

DISCIPLINE – The Free Throw rate of a team’s opponents.

#1 Virginia vs #5 Auburn

Shooting vs Defense

On the season, Virginia (55%) and Auburn (54%) have comparable effective shooting % on the season. It’s the defensive end that could prove to be a big advantage in this match-up. The Cavaliers hold their opponents to a 44% effective shooting %, whereas, the Tigers opponents’ effective shooting % was 51%. Shooting is weighted at 40% in Dean Oliver’s Four Factors.

Ball Protection vs Forced Turnovers

This is another area where something must give in this match-up. Both Virginia and Auburn both protect the ball at a high level. Virginia’s turnover rate this season was 0.13 and Auburn’s turnover rate was 0.15. On the defensive side, Auburn turned over their opponents at a rate of 0.22 and Virginia tuned over its opponents at a rate of 0.16. Turnover Rate is weighted at 25% in Dean Oliver’s Four Factors.

Offensive Rebound Rate vs Defensive Rebound Rate

Both teams have comparable offensive rebounding rates (Virginia 0.31, Auburn 0.32). Virginia has the advantage on defensive end. The Cavaliers’ defensive rebounding rate on the season is 0.75 and Auburn is considerably lower at 0.67. Auburn also takes a big hit as sophomore forward Chuma Okeke is out after injuring his ACL in Auburn’s win over North Carolina last weekend. Rebounding is weighted at 20% in the Four Factors.

FT Rate vs Discipline

Virginia is an exceptional team at defending the basket without fouling. While both teams have the same FT Rate (0.22). Virginia owns a distinct advantage on opponent FT Rate (Virginia 0.17, Auburn 0.26). This advantage will force Auburn to make more field goals instead of scoring their points from the free throw line. Free Throw Rate is weighted at 15% in the Four Factors.

Power Stat Overview:

 Virginia Power Stats Auburn X Shooting X Defense X Ball Protection Forced Turnovers X Offensive Rebounds X X Defensive Rebounds EVEN FT Rate EVEN X Discipline

Match-up Conclusion: This match-up pits two defensive minded teams with differing styles against each other. The Auburn Tigers like to pressure opponents into turnovers which creates instant offense. Virginia is a slow and methodical defensive team who forces opponent offenses to use up the 30 second clock which forces their opponents into tough shots. Virginia is also a very good defensive rebounding team which keeps opponent scoring attempts at a lower rate. For Auburn to win, they need to force Virginia into turnovers, which is something that Virginia does not normally do. Virginia needs to protect the basketball and slow the game down forcing Auburn into taking tough shots. It will be a battle of wills. The question is which team’s will be the first to break?

#2 Michigan State vs #3 Texas Tech

Shooting vs Defense

On the season, both teams have comparable numbers. Michigan State has an effective shooting % of 56% while Texas Tech’s defense held its opponents to a 43% effective shooting %. Similarly, Texas Tech has an effective shooting % of 54% and Michigan State held their opponents to a 44% effective shooting percentage. Shooting is weighted at 40% in Dean Oliver’s Four Factors.

Ball Protection vs Forced Turnovers

Michigan State and Texas Tech each protect the basketball at generally the same rate. When we look at the defensive side, Texas Tech forces its opponents to turn over the basketball at a rate of 0.20. Michigan State forces turnovers at a rate of 0.13. Turnover Rate is weighted at 25% in Dean Oliver’s Four Factors.

Offensive Rebound Rate vs Defensive Rebound Rate

Michigan State owns the advantage on the glass. Michigan State’s offensive rebound rate is 0.34 compared to Texas Tech’s 0.28. On the defensive side, Michigan State owns a small 0.73 to 0.71 advantage. Rebounding is weighted at 20% in the Four Factors.

FT Rate vs Discipline

As the data indicates, Michigan State is an exceptional team at defending the basket without fouling. While both teams have comparable FT Rates (Mich. St. 0.25, Tex. Tech 0.24), Michigan State owns a distinct advantage on opponent FT Rate (Mich. St. 0.19, Tex. Tech 0.25). This advantage will force Texas Tech to make more field goals instead of scoring their points from the free throw line. Free Throw Rate is weighted at 15% in the Four Factors.

Power Stat Overview:

 Michigan State Power Stats Texas Tech X Shooting X Defense EVEN Ball Protection EVEN Forced Turnovers X X Offensive Rebounds X Defensive Rebounds X FT Rate X Discipline

Match-up Conclusion:

This should turn out to be another stellar match-up with two defensive minded teams squaring off. Texas Tech’s ability to speed up the game and force Michigan State into turnovers will be a big factor in deciding if they will be playing on Monday night. Michigan State’s ability to defend without fouling and forcing Texas Tech into tough shots combined with their ability to rebound on both ends of the court is the key to their success.

Although the deadline for submitting brackets has passed, you can still see the match-up data in action at here. Go Spartans! Go Cavaliers! Go Red Raiders! Go Tigers!

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