Monday, February 18, 2008

Something is foul

In the wake of Duke's loss last night in which every starter fouled out lets revisit an age old passion of mine of questioning the refs.   You see Duke gets a lot of press about always getting all the calls, but in my mind they are the wrong team from North Carolina being singled out.  I know I am a Duke fan and I am biased against UNC, but while watching UNC games I find myself wondering if the referees are seeing the same game that I am seeing.   Every time Tyler Hansbrough trips over his feet it seems like UNC always gets the call.   This is obviously a subjective view, so I thought I would try and find some objective evidence for my theory that UNC gets all the calls.

Before the evidence let me make some key points:
  1. Just because one team shoots a ton more free throws than the other team doesn't mean it wasn't a correctly officiated game.  There are some teams that foul more often (think 1980s Detroit Pistons), which would obviously result in more free throws for the opponent.   Also, there are also some teams that rarely take the ball inside which is where more fouls occur.
  2. UNC rarely shoots three pointers (which a foul rarely occurs on) because they normally takes the ball inside with their post players.   That is one possible reason why UNC would be a team that shot a decent amount of free throws.
  3. Another reason that UNC shoots a lot of free throws is that they are a good (not great) team.   Being a good team they are usually are ahead at the end of the game, which can result in a team fouling on purpose at the end of the game in order to try and extend the game.
Now that those 3 clarifying points are out in the open one might expect North Carolina to have an advantage from the foul line.   Now what kind of advantage would a team expect from those points above?   That is hard (not impossible) to quantity, but I can imagine (ie guess) that it might result in an increase in free throws of upwards of 20-30%.  Now lets look at the statistics that I found:
  1. In 26 out of North Carolina's 28 games they have shot more free throws than their opponent.   Just in case you don't have a calculator handy that means that in 92% of their games they have an advantage at the foul line.   If you are curious the two games were the Maryland home loss and a victory at Rutgers.  
  2. UNC has played 5 really close games in the ACC that if you would have changed one possession UNC would have lost.   There were the two Clemson games that combined included 3 overtimes.   Also, there two 1 point victories on the road against Georgia Tech and Virginia.  The fifth and final one I am referring to is the 11 point overtime victory over Florida St.   If you look at the foul differences in those 5 games it goes something like this:  
  3. In UNC's two point OT victory over Clemson: 30-27 in favor of UNC
  4. In UNC's one point victory over Georgia Tech: 26-10 in favor of UNC
  5. In UNC's eleven point OT victory over Florida St: 33-15 in favor of UNC
  6. In UNC's ten point double OT victory over Clemson: 36-7 in favor of UNC
  7. In UNC's one point victory over Virginia: 12-11 in favor of UNC.
  8. In total for those five games UNC shot 137 free throws compared to their opponents only shooting 60.   
Now I wasn't a math major (even though stats is pretty close) in college, but I can calculate that means UNC has a better than two to one advantage at the foul line in their close ACC games.   If I had a unlimited amount of time I would report the foul difference in all the ACC games, all the non-conference games, and analyze game tape to produce a Youtube video. Unfortunately I have a job counting widgets that I actually really like and definitely want to keep. 

It is hard not to read the above stats and at least question the validity of some of UNC's victories and think that maybe UNC does get the majority of the calls.  It has gotten to the point that you might as well add an A to the acronym, so that UNC could stand for University of No Calls Against.  

1 comment:

BC said...

Someone has done some of your work for you.