Good read from KenPom

What’s the most important stat at half time in a tied game? He settles on what amounts to 3-point luck. Comes up with a cool stat called “3-point surplus”.

Yes it is a good read. But couldn’t what he calls the basketball gods be easily explained by exactly what he mentions early on: the fact that the coaches review the box score? “Hey team, the opponent is shooting better than us from 3. Don’t stop shooting good shots, but please also contest their attempts better.” “Okay coach!” Plus, if there were basketball gods, Beilein would have at least one National Championship (but then again maybe we’re penalized by the basketball gods for being a “football school”)

The fact that John Calipari and Rick Pitino have hoisted a national championship trophy proves there is no god. Basketball or otherwise.


I think it has much more to do with how sample sizes and regression impact 2-point and 3-point shooting, personally.

The gods favor the bold my friend. Belein went with his “auto bench” strategy in both title games. Yeah Spike bailed him out in the first game, but he wasn’t so lucky in the second game. He subbed out Duncan w/ 11:18, when UM was up 19-14. Then, at 4:07, he subbed out MAAR with Nova up 30-26. Lacking their two senior scores, UM would fall behind 28-37 by half and never recover.

Short of trading for DiVincenzo, there was no personnel strategy that was going to win that game


Well, DiVincenzo chose the night to have to have a night. But I do think that the psychology of games between fairly evenly matched teams matters, whether or not it’s susceptible to calculation. Michigan sustained some tough calls in the first half. Would they have come out with greater confidence or have played differently if the half-time score had been closer, if Villanova hadn’t been up by 9? The rest of the world has zero sympathy, but I’ll always wonder.

Guess you guys did not enjoy the article. Somehow the whole discussion is about previous national title games.

1 Like

Enjoyed the article. Fits with the general “the shots will fall next half” or “they can’t keep shooting like that” narratives.

Seems pretty thin to me, a tie game at half while shooting worse than expected from 3 is as useful as a 3-point lead sitting better than expected from 3? Seems like small differences.

Would like to see him put error bars and confidence intervals on those plots and then compare to other factors. Off the top of my head would be some metric to assess talent level - does the higher ranked team generally pull away? How about if they shot the lights out from 3 in the first half? Or how about turnover rates relative to averages?

It is interesting. But I wish you had said, ‘What’s the stat most predictive of victory’ rather than just most important, because it took me a while to become sufficiently interested to read more closely. And then I felt you were likely right that it was about regressing to the 3-pt mean, both sides.

But I don’t see where he cross-correlates threes and home team advantage. I’d bet the home team shoots them better at home, that home is even more important for threes than twos, and I would speculate that home teams might carry that advantage into second halves? I agree with Geoff that defending threes more intensively could factor, but I also think I remember from a conversation last year that three-defense is pretty random.

I WILL look at three-point percentages at the half from now on, though, so I’d say the article has altered my thinking and behavior. And there’s a reason why coaches tell their shooters to keep shooting. . .

1 Like

This builds off of Ken’s research which demonstrates that defense has a lot more to do with 3PA than 3-point field goal percentage. Which ties back into this half time stat.