A Look into the numbers: why do we win or lose?

Bumped. GO BRUINS. - N

Ok, so I do not have a definite set of reasons for the ups and downs in this basketball season, or a roadmap showing what our warriors need to do to finish this season with a Pauley banner-raising ceremony. What I do have is a look at how the game statistics have differed between Bruin wins and losses over the course of this season. Much of what I have discovered falls into the "no duh" category, while other sets of data had surprisingly little correlation to game outcome

I Imagine that few here would be surprised to hear that the most significant variance between Bruin wins and losses has come thanks to the SPTR's, relating to the number of fouls called, and opportunities at the line for both teams.

FTm-FTa, FT% (Fouls awarded) [per game averages]

UCLA win:

UCLA: 14.1-19.6, .719 (17.0)

Opponent: 11.3-17.1, .663 (16.8)


UCLA loss:

UCLA: 8.0-11.9, .675 (15.3)

Opponent: 16.7-21.4, .780 (19.0)

In games which the Bruins have won, each team has, on average, been called for an approximately equal number of fouls, with the Bruins attempting 2.5 more free throws than their opponent. In Bruin losses, the opposing team has drawn slightly less than 4 fouls more than the Bruins, but have had an even greater knack for getting to the line, attempting 9.5 more free throws than the Bruins in those games. The idea that more fouls + fewer free throws = lose is not exactly thinking outside of the box, but having a basis for the idea can't hurt.

Another statistical category which shows a noticeable variance among wins and losses is UCLA Defensive Rebounding/opponent Offensive rebounding. While success in offensive rebounding displays no correlation to winning (the Bruins have fractionally outperformed in losses over victories on the offensive end), the average number of defensive rebounds varies greatly between Bruin wins and losses, as do offensive rebounds by the opposing team.


Win: 31.1 rebounds/game (21.35 defensive)

Loss: 25.9 rebounds/game (15.86 defensive)



UCLA win: 26.6 rebounds/game (7.9 offensive)

UCLA loss: 25.0 rebounds/game (8.7 offensive)

In victory, the Bruins have brought in an average of 5.5 more defensive rebounds (a whopping 34.6% more) than in losses, while opponents have recovered nearly 1 more offensive rebound in games which they win (10% more) despite totaling fewer  rebounds in sum in victories over the ben ball warriors.

Three-point shooting holds another statistical variance between wins and losses. There is a certain logic to the idea that a losing team will shoot more 3-pointers in an attempt to make up ground, particularly late in the game. In UCLA's case, the numbers bear this out. Interestingly, UCLA's opponents also attempted more 3-point shots in games which the Bruins fell.

3PTm-3PTa, 3PT% (per game average)


Win: 7.5-18.1, .416

Loss: 7.6-20.7, .366



UCLA win: 4.7-14.0, .333

UCLA loss: 6.7-16.9, .398

While the number of made 3-point shots remains roughly the same for the Bruins win or lose, they attempt 2.6 more shots to do so. This suggests that, even with the long-range proficiency of several of our players, jacking up a bunch of 3's is not necessarily the best strategy when the team is locked in a tight battle. Allowing a hot shooting opponent to take a high number of shots from behind the arc, to no surprise, is also correlated to Bruin losses.

While other other statistics show a strong correlation to wins and losses, such as shooting % and assist/turnover ratio, the number of shots attempted show very little variation among wins and losses, for both the Bruins and opponents.

FGm-FGa, FG%; Assist/TO ratio


Win: 29.2-56.1, .520; 1.32/1

Loss: 25.7-56.6, .455; 1.03/1



UCLA win: 22.0-55.4, .437; 0.60/1

UCLA loss: 24.7-55.1, .493; 1.06/1

Many of the lessons which looking at the numbers associated with wins as compared to losses are basic and rather obvious (Shoot better! Protect the ball!...), there are other statistical variations which may be of interest in watching the last few weeks of this season play out. While taking care to note that correlation with a result does not necessarily imply causation, as well as the capriciousness of the SPTR's, it can be helpful to know what the effect of foul call distribution has been, as well as the importance of defensive rebounding and the knowledge that attempting to shoot out of a long-range slump in volume is not always the best way to win a game.

<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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