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So, about that road contest

Posted by Jeff Nusser on March 26, 2008

A lot of people have come up with a lot of reasons why the Cougars won’t be able to hang with North Carolina, and a lot of them are valid.

Then, when they run out of rational reasons (if they had any to begin with), they throw this in for good measure: “Well, North Carolina just has to get on a bus and drive down the road; those Cougars, they have to fly aaaallllllll the waaaaaaay from PULLMAN — which, incidentally, is in the middle of nowhere — to North Carolina to play in front of a hostile crowd. That’s just too much!”

Hogwash.

There are a lot of things this Cougar team has proven this season, and one of them is that they simply are not phased by traveling to another team’s arena.

No decent non-conference opponent wanted to come to Pullman this year to play a game in a style that’s been compared to a root canal. Scheduling was difficult, so Tony Bennett did the only thing he could to toughen his team up: Play a lot on the road. It was lamentable early in the season, but it has paid dividends, as statistics show that the Cougs learned to perform equally well in both friendly and hostile confines.

I broke down the Cougs’ home and road splits with regards to the big four kenpom.com statistics on this spreadsheet. When I originally put the sheet together, I found that their splits were pretty close offensively, but quite a bit worse defensively on the road (Sheet 1). It wasn’t that they’re road numbers were bad; it’s that their home numbers were ridiculously good. I realized that the home numbers were being skewed pretty badly by some of the very weak opponents we played there.

So, to get a clearer picture of true home and road performance, I eliminated the home games where the Cougs clearly had the opposition outclassed — those ranked 200 or below in the Pomeroy ratings: EWU, Idaho, Montana, Mississippi Valley State, The Citadel, North Carolina A&T and Oregon State. The only road contests I removed were Idaho State and Oregon State, because they were the only teams we played on the road ranked 200 or below. You’ll find that on Sheet 2.

The result? In 10 games at home against top 200 competition, the Cougs were 6-4. In 11 games on the road, they went 8-3. Statistically, there was practically no difference between the way the Cougs performed at home and how they performed on the road against similar competition. The Cougs were about two efficiency points worse on offense and about one efficiency point worse on defense when they played on the road — a negligible difference to be sure.

Virtually every other of the “big four” statistics on both offense and defense were practically identical, with one exception: Offensive free throw rate. That might actually be a legitimate worry for this team, as they travel to what figures to be a partisan arena, even if there won’t be any Pac-10 or ACC officials working the game.

But the Cougs not knowing how to handle a road game should not be a concern, especially with having been off since Saturday and preparing for a Thursday game that will tip off at virtually the same local time as the first two victories in the tournament. These Cougs know how to travel, they know how to handle a hostile arena and, most of all, they know how to win on the road.

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5 Responses to “So, about that road contest”

  1. cfred said

    Nuss, your analysis is truly revealing. Nice incite here…

  2. Never Hated Heels More said

    This is apparently a parody of North Carolina’s fight song, which is sung regularly by NC State fans. Thought that fellow Cougs might like to know it, for celebration and rallying purposes:

    ————

    Way beyond the Durham ditches, there’s a place like hell,
    Where twenty thousand sons of bitches call it Chapel Hill.

    So, piss on Carolina ‘lina
    Piss on Carolina ‘lina
    Piss on Carolina ‘lina
    Sh*t on Duke

    Oh, they’re bastards born, and they’re bastards bred,
    And when they die, they’ll be bastards dead.

    So, piss on Carolina ‘lina
    Piss on Carolina ‘lina
    Piss on Carolina ‘lina
    Sh*t on Duke

  3. Michelle said

    thanks Nuss!

    I love the use of the word “hogwash”

    Did you catch the article in the Seattle PI?

  4. Nuss said

    Yeah, that’s a word I like to break out every once in a while — I save it for special occasions. I didn’t see today’s P-I. What’s up?

  5. Michelle said

    I’m not sure if it was run to inspire us Cougs to get fired up, but either way, I think it’s BS. Read the comments people are posting about it too.

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/cbasketball/356471_heels26.html

    anything that ends with the words “All Hail the Tar Heels” makes me want to vomit…is this a joke?

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