Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Big East Rewind: SDPI

One way to look at team strength, taken from Eddie Epstein’s fantastic book Dominance, is to look at teams points scored and allowed relative to the league average and standard deviation. The more standard deviations they are from the mean, the better (or worse they are). For those unfamiliar with what standard deviation is here’s the wikipedia link. In the coming weeks, I will be looking at each Division IA conference and ranking each team in regards to their Standard Deviation Power Index in conference play. Keep in mind, the SDPI does not adjust for schedule strength for conferences such as the ACC where each team does not play each other and it ignores special teams which can play a significant role in both points scored and points allowed.

If you want the meat of the article, skip this next paragraph as it just gives an example of how the SDPI is calculated. The mean points scored and allowed for all Big East teams in conference play was 172.25 points. The standard deviation for points scored was 58.22. The standard deviation for points allowed was 37.97. Cincinnati scored 152 and allowed 141 points. Cincinnati’s offensive SDPI was -0.35 = ([152-172.25]/58.22). Their defensive SDPI was .82 = ([172.25-141]/37.97). Their total SDPI was 0.48 (not 0.47 because the other two were rounded). In the 2006 Big East, that was good for fifth best.

First here's the link to the 2006 Big East Standings to refresh your memory.

Now here are the 2006 SDPI Standings.

Louisville 2.11
West Virginia 1.13
Rutgers 0.86
South Florida 0.57
Cincinnati 0.48
Pittsburgh -0.92
Syracuse -1.93
Connecticut -2.29

Not much difference in the actual standings and the SDPI standings.

Best Offense: West Virginia 1.49
Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Mountaineers’ spread option were the best offense in the Big East.

Worst Offense: Syracuse -1.57
The most points they scored in conference play was 20. Held to 17 or less in their other 6 conference games.

Best Defense: South Florida 1.03
Held every opponent except Louisville to 20 points or less.

Worst Defense: Connecticut -1.73
All you need to know: The Orangemen scored 20 on their defense.

Best Team that Didn’t Go to a Bowl: Pittsburgh -0.92
This says more about Pitt’s non-conference slate than anything (Citadel). Lost their last 5 games to finish 6-6.

Worst Team that Went to a Bowl: Cincinnati 0.48
Hardly an indictment of their team as the Bearcats had a solid season that included a near miss against Louisville and beatdowns of South Florida and undefeated Rutgers.

Schedule Strength: No need to rank schedule strength since everybody plays everybody in the 8-team league.

Team(s) Likely to Decline: Pittsburgh and Louisville
The Panthers can’t blame lousy luck in close games like they could in 2005 for their sub-par record. The Panthers couldn’t post bowl bids in Wanny’s first two years with Tyler Palko, so chances are they won’t in the first year AP. The Cards should be good yet again, but losing Petrino will hurt, as will road trips to West Virginia, South Florida, and Cincinnati.

Team(s) Likely to Improve: South Florida and Syracuse
As long as Matt Grothe stays healthy the Bulls will be a sleeper team in the Big East. They get the two big boys (West Virginia and Louisville) as well as Cincinnati at their place. Despite their offensive struggles, Syracuse was actually not the worst team in conference play last year. If their offense improves at all (and it may with Perry Patterson graduating) the Orangemen could finish a little higher in the standings.


Anonymous said...

Please do you homework on the Big East. USF was not the best defense in the Big East, Rutgers was based on their rankings. Also, RU and UL scored more than 20 on USF.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, make that RU, UL, and Cinny being the only teams to score more than 20 on USF.

matt said...

Indeed you are correct. Thanks for checking behing me. However, USF did allow the fewest points in conference play.

Anonymous said...

The only problem is conference play isn't the only factor involved with quality of a team and how they finish for the season. OC games matter just as much. FAU (or FIU or whatever) and McNesse St. can help your stats from USF point, but the quality of the team doesn't help.

ewad said...

No out of conference games don't mean as much. For example Cincinnati-Ohio State is a big deal to a fan.... but doesn't effect teams very much in their first goal, which both teams would say... a Conference title. Conference games are the only way you can compare league teams in an apples to apples fashion.

Anonymous said...


OK if we go by conference alone, then USF is not cracked up to be all that. The thread was about USF holding conference opponents to 20 and under and UL was the only league team to better that on USF. Well, the was wrong because Cinny, UL and RU all scored more than 20 on USF. That means 4 league team scored under 20 while 3 scored more than 20. The thread proclaimed USF as the best defense in the league, but the truth is they weren't. RU was better when you compare the amount of league teams scoring 20 or less against them. UCONN (13), USF (20), SU (7), and Pitt (10) is what these teams scored against RU. I think UL defense ws just as good too. It's how people see thinks that play into who is better.

matt said...

Look anonymous, I made a mistake in writing about the 20+ points. Mea culpa. Still, USF allowed the fewest points in conference play and that is what this post is about--points scored and allowed in conference play. Non-conference games are not included because each team's non-conference schedule is radically different. Their conference slates, with the exception of venue are all the same. And by the way, Rutgers didn't exactly have a murderer's row non-conference sched either (Howard, UNC, Navy, Illinois, and Ohio).

Anonymous said...


my last post wasn't against you, but you are right about RU's non-conference schedule. The differnce is RU didn't let their non-conference teams hang around to make a game of it. Atleast 2 of them did go bowling (Ohio & Navy). USF's opponent were in the game even at the end.

matt said...

No arguments here. Aside from the opener against UNC, Rutgers dominated their non-conference opponents, including K-St in the bowl game.

Anonymous said...

Nice. Now, let's see the SEC, followed by the Big TelevEN, -12 & PAC10. [Sorry, patience isn't one of my virtues. lol]
Great job, btw. New & interesting way to spin O & D stats & their "meanings," relative to conference rankings.
I'm especiallly curious as to how the SEC will shake out.