Monday, January 30, 2006

On Big Ten officiating

To begin with, I need to point out that Wonk has promised a super-sized edition of "Wonk Back" tomorrow, which will apparently cover officiating almost exclusively. Yes, this will break one of Wonk's cardinal rules, but it has apparently become such a hot topic amongst his readership that it demands analyzation. I did a small amount of this regarding fouls called on teams (not FTAs) once I found out that, through the OSU-Iowa game Saturday, Iowa is getting, on average, only 12.7 fouls called on them at home, compared to the 24.3 fouls their opponents are getting called for in games at Carver-Hawkeye. That's a home foul disparity of +11.6 in Big Ten games. Obscene. And it's not like they've been playing the dregs of the conference in those home games, either. Their 4 home contests have come against Illinois, Indiana, OSU, and Minnesota.

So I decided to compute each Big Ten team's foul disparity, both at home and on the road, and compared the two. The comparison stat, I suppose, could be labeled "home court foul advantage" or something, as it's the difference between foul disparity at home and foul disparity on the road.

(So, assuming, as it was in almost every case, that the "home disparity" turned out to be positive [more fouls called on your opponents than you during your home games] and the "road disparity" turned out to be negative [the opposite], the "HC Advantage" stat turned out to be:

(fouls called on your opponents at your home games - fouls called on you at your home games)-(fouls called on your opponents at your road games - fouls called on you at your road games). All of these are averages, by the way.

So, if you averaged a positive foul discrepancy at home and a negative one on the road -- as was true of every top-7 team but three: Iowa and Wisky had positive discrepancies on the road and OSU had a negative discrepancy at home -- your "home court advantage turned out to be positive, and usually pretty healthy.)

Whatever. I'm no stat-wonk like the uber-CBB bloggers out there. When I did the calculations, somewhat unsurprisingly, bad teams tended to have negative or negligible disparities on the home as compared to the road, so I am going to limit this study to the top-7 teams, the seven Big Ten squads who look like good bets to make the NCAAs come March (hence the "top-7" language up there).

TEAMHome Disp.Road Disp.HC Adv.

What does this all mean? It seems to indicate that some teams who play at home tend to benefit big-time in the foul department, but fucked if I know for sure. If there's a better way for figuring this kind of thing, I would love a hand from the enginerds among us...


At 7:48 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would seem, judging from these statistics, that the Bucks are just a bunch of hacking thugs.

Break of Dawn

At 8:34 PM, January 30, 2006, Blogger Jack Fu said...

Slap and reach and whatnot. Indeed.

It is not an overstatement to say that I am eager to hear Wonk's musings on the subject tomorrow.

At 10:25 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate the research you did on this. I think another great stat would be for just first half fouls because of how teams foul to stop the clock at the end of the game. If we blew a lot of teams out they wouldn't fould as much, but just play the final few minutes with the clock running.

At 8:47 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger The Diddy said...

No matter what anyone says or tries to come up with player reasons why there's a foul disparity, I'll always swear that human nature is the biggest factor here. Officials, like everyone else, enjoy being popular. And arena with crowds REALLY into the game, I swear impact the officiating. Officials like to hear cheering just like players do. They also don't like to be booed. I'm not saying it's a conscience decision. It's what people do unknowingly.

I'd say the top seven teams in the league this year are pretty close to even. However, it's really no surprise to anyone Indiana has the biggest foul disparity according to Fu's numbers. That crowd rides officials like Wyoming Cowboy Apes. Meanwhile, OSU's crowd is well, you know, quietly sitting there minding their own business. The result, they've got a homecourt disadvantage. I contend it's a bigger factor than given credit.

At 10:20 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jack Fu said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Dids. I don't think officials go into games saying "I can't wait to screw the visiting team!" I think it just subconsciously ends up happening, at least at certain arenas.

BTW: Wonk's post is up.

BTW part two: I feel it is noteworthy to point out that the aforementioned top 7 teams in the conference right now are a combined 31-1 at home in league play. The lone loss is OSU falling to MSU in double overtime.

At 12:06 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Torgonator said...

31-1?? Holy shit! That rabbit is crazy!

Due to an intense bout of boredom, I actually spent a good portion of last night analyzing your formula and defining assumptions of the formula and where we could factor in unaccounted-for elements. But the premise for my entire shpiel was based on an assumption that I'm not sure holds any weight. You guys are much more familiar with basketball so I'll ask you...

Would you expect there to be a correlation between the quality of a team's opponent and the number of fouls called against said team? (If such a correlation exists, I would expect that the better the quality of Team A's opponents, the more fouls get called against Team A.)

Also, I agree with Mr. Anonymous that fouls in the final minutes of a game can be misleading to this statistic. Any intentional foul late in a game would throw off the numbers because the overtness takes away any subjectivity of the referees. And without the subjectivity of the referees you end up with a very dull discussion about the effect of a home court on officiating.

At 8:16 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jack Fu said...

BTW, Wisconsin is getting badly outplayed by Illinois, but only trails by 6, thanks largely to a 16-6 disparity in free throw attempts. Take a wild guess where this game is being played...

At 9:36 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jack Fu said...

Regarding your question, Torgs, I'd have to say that I would expect there to be something of a correllation there, but I'm not sure how much of one.

I think a better opponent for Team A would lead to more fouls for Team A, but only to a certain degree, because if the game is a blowout, there aren't likely to be many fouls late in the game or even throughout the entire second half, because everyone involved probably just wants to get the hell out of there and go home, including (unfortunately) the officials...

At 4:56 PM, February 01, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous again...actually Rob Durham (the guy who would have won the ESPN Bowl Picks had USC won, those dipshits). I'd also like to see the other conferences' numbers on this. It wouldn't surprise me though if the Big Ten was the worst. Over the last decade (even in football), doesn't it seem like when they mention officiating over half of the time "Big Ten" is connected to it? And that's not just because we watch more Big Ten stuff either. During tournaments, PTI, and radio, you hear that term, "Big Ten Officiating." That would make a good cover story. Yes, for some environmental reason (along with the ones you named) it seems to be the worst in the Big Ten.


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