This past weekend as I rode the train for hours on end, I decided to look a bit into the Big East teams from a numbers point of view. Seeing the critical acclaim Cracked Sidewalks‘ very own John Pudner received for his tremendous Value Add statistic* from Sports Illustrated as well as others, I figured using it as a tool to measure Big East teams would be timely and appropriate.
*For those of you (and I include myself) who see numbers as a foreign language, Value Add is like speaking Latin. It’s difficult, verbose and not easily grasped, yet at the end of the day, is very effective at achieving what it intends to do, and that is measuring player performance. Luke Winn’s explanation sums it up very well: “(It) attempted to quantify the percentage drop-off if, say, Ohio State were to give all of Jared Sullinger’s possessions to a generic, ninth or 10th man on a Division I bench.”
With that out of the way it’s time to get to the good stuff. I took Pudner’s top 1500 returning players including defense, much more eloquently explained here, and grouped them by teams to see which Big East teams had the most firepower coming back. I then assigned the inverse rank to each player (so a player ranked second would get 1498 points and one ranked 1498 would get 2) and added up the totals.
This system is no where near as mathematically valid as the original Value Add statistic because it doesn’t take the exact value added into account, but instead it merely tallies rankings. What I intended to do was simply group the players into their respective teams and see what Value Add would tell us about the upcoming season.
*One more note. After consulting with Pudner about the efficacy of adding defense to Value Add, he noted that the defensive value added was skewed based on how good the team defense was. So while individual rankings will be skewed, taken as a team, results will be more precise.
The results had Louisville as the top ranked team with 13 players finding their way in the top 1500. Cuse, Pitt and Cincy followed with UConn coming in fifth. Their ranking did not include the No. 1 recruit in the country though, freshman Andre Drummond who should make a big splash this season.
When compared to the Big East coaches’ predictions, we see that the results are different, but not by much. The top 5 teams are both the same — albeit in a different order — while three of the bottom four are also matching.
The biggest differences come with Georgetown and Rutgers. Value Add rankings see the Hoyas as the 6th best team while the coaches have them at 10th. Meanwhile Value Add doesn’t see much in Rutgers, putting them next to the basement, while the coaches have them up a bit higher at 11th.
All in all, Value Add rankings seem to be in line with what the coaches are predicting for the most part. We’ll see how accurate it ends up being at the end of the season.