Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Home Court: Part II

Earlier, I posted on the impact of big crowds on game performance and outcomes. I asked these three questions:

1. Does playing on the road on Saturday (presumably facing larger crowds than weeknight games) increase a team's chance of losing a road game?
2. Ken Pomeroy has demonstrated that home court advantage in a broad sense is often overblown. But, I'm not sure his data shows us that spiked attendance at "big games" does not matter. Of course, Duke and Kentucky and several other teams are almost always going to have a big crowd on hand. We already know it's tough to win there on any night. I am more interested in...
3. Do teams perform better statistically when the crowd is bigger? Do they "pull the upset" with a bigger crowd on hand? For example, does San Francisco "overperform" when Gonzaga comes to town and a big crowd is on hand?

I still want to track this, but proving statistical significance is probably beyond my capability. I have posed my question to Ken Pomeroy, and hopefully he will take me up on it and give us some answers.

What I have done is probe my USF vs Gonzaga question a bit. Last year, USF averaged 2104 attendance in their home games (not including GU). When the Zags came to town, 4500 folks ventured into War Memorial Gym. Season numbers:

Gonzaga: 113.9 OffEff, 95.8 DefEff, #55 Pythag Win%
USF: 103.0 OffEff, 102.6 DefEff, #153 Pythag Win%

GU managed to pull it out in OT. This is merely one game and is meaningless in proving anything. My point is that these are the kinds of games that I wonder about. I will try to flag similar type games as the season progresses.

That said, this kind of stuff is not really what I do here, and I do not want to get too far away from my focus here: evaluating teams by the selection criteria regardless of polls, conference, star power, TV contracts, or any other factor outside of the criteria. That is somewhat of a subjective process, but that is the system we have.

Therefore, while I do use efficiency rankings from time to time, I deal mostly with predicting what the committee will do. And, I thrive in the subjective. Hopefully, Mr. Pomeroy can help with the numbers.