Friday, July 29, 2011

2011 Pac-12 Preview

We are now under 5 weeks until the season gets underway. 34 days from today, if you want specifics. This week, Statistically Speaking previews the new Pac-12. In a bit of irony, 5 conferences are changing league membership this season, but the Pac-12 (formerly Pac-10) is is the only one to undergo a name change to match. For last season's Pac-10 projections, follow this link.

Fair and Unbalanced
The Cal Bears were one of the more unbalanced teams in the nation in 2010. The Bears ended the season with the worst offense in the Pac-10 and the best defense. The difference between their offensive SDPI (-1.37) and their defensive SDPI (1.46) was quite high, at 2.83 standard deviations. On its own, this number seems very large, but as a standard of comparison, I looked at all of my current SDPI ratings for the six seasons from 2005-2010 to see where it would place overall. It still placed quite high, at 13th overall. The table below lists Cal and the 12 teams in that aforementioned span that had larger differences between their offensive and defensive SDPI ratings. The table also lists their offensive, defensive, and total SDPI, as well as their ranking in those categories in their respective conferences that season. To see how these teams typically performed, their conference and overall record are included as well.While Cal had the misfortune of suffering a losing season, some of these unbalanced teams were actually quite successful. The most unbalanced team on this list, Houston in 2009, won their division and BCS heavyweights Auburn (2007) and Oklahoma (2006) played in big bowls (Chick-Fil-A for Auburn and the Fiesta for Oklahoma). However, as one might expect, on the whole these teams were about average in terms of their final record. Their cumulative league record is 50-54 and their cumulative overall record in 80-82. For the most part, being very good on one side of the ball and very bad on the other, usually portends overall mediocrity.


Sam said...

It looks like the real moral of that table is "If you have to be good at just one thing, pick Offense."

Of all the teams unbalanced on the side of offense only one had a losing season. On the defensive side the only two winning seasons came from teams with exceptional defenses (SDPI > 2).

I think if there were a few more data points, we might see that Total SDPI is what most strongly correlates with wins, but within this set, offense is #1.

matt said...

First off, after re-examining the numbers in the chart, it appears I struggle at adding. The overall conference record for the 12 teams is actually 47-49. Their overall record is 75-75.

Using the correct numbers, I looked at the defensively skewed teams. Those 7 teams went 27-29 in conference and 39-47 overall. The 5 offensively skewed teams went 20-20 in conference and 36-28 overall.

It appears there is no significant difference in conference games and the difference in overall games can probably be explained by this:
Of the 7 defensively skewed teams, 4 were mid-majors. Those 4 teams went a combined 2-14 in non-conference play (as average mid-major teams tend to do). The 3 defensively skewed BCS conference teams went 10-4 in non-conference action. Of the 5 offensively skewed teams, only 2 were mid-majors. Those 2 teams went 5-4 in non-conference action. The 3 offensively skewed BCS conference teams went 11-4 in the non-conference.

Perhaps a better method would be to differentiate between BCS and mid-major teams when looking at skewed squads.