FanPost

More Memphis info

Bumped. Let's hope hoo has to do one more of these posts in next 48 hours. GO BRUINS. -N

Its the night before the Final Four, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even... Ok, I really do not have an ending for that one. It is Final Four time, what does that matter! As a brief aside, no matter how this weekend turns out, the idea that UCLA has now appeared in three consecutive Final Fours is simply amazing to me. As someone whose time at UCLA saw the final death throes of the "coach" who shall not be named, seeing the team on such a run of success so soon afterward goes to show just how great of a job that Ben Howland has done, no matter what happens over the next 72 hours. Now, on to Memphis.

Memphis enters the national semifinals with a 37-1 record, as the #1 seed out of the South region after winning the Conference USA conference regular season and conference championships. Memphis has defeated UT-Arlington, Mississippi State, Michigan State, and Texas to reach the Final Four.

UCLA and Memphis have faced four common opponents: USC, Arizona, Michigan State, and Texas. Memphis defeated all of these teams, the closest contest being a 62-58 OT win over USC at Madison Square Garden in early December. Entering the tournament, Memphis had played 9 games against tourney opponents, with an 8-1 record. As with last week, having made it this deep into the tournament makes this figure of dubious value at this point.

Going into the numbers...

RPI UCLA: #4, Memphis: #3
Pomeroy Rating UCLA: #2, Memphis: #3
Sagarin Rating UCLA: #4, Memphis: #3

As was the case with Xavier last Saturday, Memphis is the highest rated opponent that we have played this season. This is additionally the first game that UCLA has played against a team that is rated above it in the computer ratings, and the second game that UCLA has played against a team with a higher ranking in the AP or Coaches poll (first WSU game - WSU #4, UCLA #5).

Now for the efficiency metrics and pace of play...

Memphis

  • Offense: 120.8 points/100 possessions (#4 in D-1)
  • Defense: 84.2 points/100 possessions (#5 in D-1)
  • Pace: 69.4 possessions/40 minutes
Overall, Memphis ranks 3rd in offensive and in defensive efficiency among final four teams (UCLA rates 4th in offense, and 1st in defensive efficiency, btw), and is the most efficient team that UCLA has faced in the tournament; among all UCLA opponents, only Texas' offense was a more efficient unit than either of Memphis' units.

UCLA

  • Offense: 120.3 points/100 possessions (#7 in D-1)
  • Defense: 83.4 points/100 possessions (#2 in D-1)
  • Pace: 65.4 possessions/40 minutes
Using the above efficiency measures, together with the average pace of the two teams' play, the average game score of each team, based upon an equal schedule composed of average Division 1 teams would be:
  • Memphis: 84-58
  • UCLA: 79-55
A very close matchup, as you can see. If one simply looks at the margins for the above average scores, Memphis has a slight advantage, due mainly to the extra possessions taking advantage of their offensive efficiency. The computers agree that the matchup is a very close one, but with differing outcomes. Sagarin's formula gives Memphis an advantage of about a half-point. Pomeroy's projection yields a 68-67 UCLA victory, with a 52% probability of winning.


While much of the talk surrounding Memphis, and of the matchup with UCLA has to do with the fast pace that Memphis often plays at. Some commentators have stressed the need for the Bruins to impose their pace of play onto the Tigers in order to win. While a slower, deliberate pace of play may favor UCLA, the discussion has largely ignored the fact that Memphis has played at a much slower pace in postseason play. At an average of 64.4 possessions/game since the start of the CUSA tournament, Memphis has actually played a slower pace than has UCLA over the course of the season. While UCLA also has played a slower game in the postseason, the difference in pace between postseason and the season in whole is smaller.

Overall pace (adjusted)

  • Memphis: 69.4 possessions/40 minutes
  • UCLA: 65.4 possessions/40 minutes
Postseason pace (conference + NCAA tournaments)
  • Memphis: 64.4 possessions
  • UCLA: 63.1 possessions
Difference in pace (Memphis v. UCLA)
  • Overall: Memphis +4.0 possessions/40 minutes
  • Postseason: Memphis +1.3 possessions/40 minutes
If one takes into account the change in pace of postseason play as described above, the resulting average game score would be:
  • Memphis: 78-54
  • UCLA: 76-53
The slower pace, as well as the effect of closing the difference in the teams' pace of play would seem to work to UCLA's advantage. The slower pace of play that Memphis has exhibited through the postseason may lead one to make one of two conclusions: that UCLA can well force a slower pace of play on Saturday night, or that Memphis has the ability to play exceptionally well when the game has slowed. I, for one, do hope for the former to emerge.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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