Virginia Basketball Season Preview Part II: Great(?) Expectations

Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

This two part series of articles previews the 2012 season for the men's basketball team. The innovative BENNETT System is employed to arrive at a prediction of the regular season record. The record reveals whether the team is likely to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Part 1 of our BENNETT implementation offered a less than encouraging prediction for 20121 offensive output. The loss of Mike Scott's massive points contribution in particular could certainly trouble an offense that hinges on efficiency. Thankfully, Bennett's much-discussed Pack Line defense could offset some scoring problems. Part 2 will predict the points per game surrendered by the Virginia defense in 2012, and concludes with a prediction of the final record.

[BENNETT Step 2 - Defense]

The most notable area of improvement in 2011 involved the Pack Line, which the team executed much more efficiently in Bennett's third year at the helm; surrendering exactly 200 fewer points than in the 2010.2 The percentage of returning points seemed to create a strong trend for the offense, so I first attempted to predict points surrendered per game by comparing the value to the percentage of returning minutes played.3 But Bennett's time at WA State revealed an interesting relationship. Variations in points surrendered per game were minimal and unrelated to the percentage of returning minutes.4

When Tony went to Washington State, he was following his father, who was the inventor of the Pack Line defense. So although Tony became head coach in '06, the Pack Line was installed as early as '03 at Washington State. I went back to the beginning of the Bennett tenure and charted the points surrendered per game in relation to the years of Pack Line installation.

Chart2-1_medium

The points surrendered per game seem to rely more on the duration of Bennett reign than the percentage of returning players, which makes sense given the complicated, team-oriented nature of their defensive strategy. I plotted the Bennett year data from the above chart and fit a curve in an attempt to predict the Virginia defensive performance in Bennett year 4.

Graph2-2_medium

The curve clearly shows dramatic improvement in years 1-3, with some leveling-off in years 4-6.5 Plugging year 4 into the graph equation gives 56.6 points surrendered per game in 2012. The two predictions on points per game will combine to give the ...

Trivia Question! Who was Virginia's most recent first-round NBA draft pick? Question Code: FIRST. Submit your answers here!

[BENNETT Conclusion - Final Record Prediction]

BENNETT lastly tracks the relationship between the points per game margin and the regular season win percentage of Tony Bennett coached teams, outlined in the chart below.

Chart2-3_medium

And once more, I plotted the chart in a graph and fit a curve to help predict the win percentage in 2012.

Chart2-4_medium

The difference between the previously calculated points scored and points surrendered gives a per game margin of +4.2 in 2012. The final BENNETT graph, at the predicted point margin, yields a regular season win percentage of 56%.

The BENNETT System thus has decidedly mediocre expectations of a 17-14 regular season record for the 2012 men's basketball team. This suggests that the team could struggle to receive an NIT invitation, and would certainly not face any bubble-related drama on Selection Sunday.

A 17-14 record would certainly be a disappointment after reaching the Tournament in 2011. The player turnover appears to be just too significant for a return trip. But who knows, the strong recruiting class could contribute above expectations in its first season, or Joe Harris could rise from his steady production to fill the Mike Scott role. I'll be rooting for an undefeated season and NCAA title despite this preseason prediction. Look for periodic posts analyzing various aspects of offense, defense, Bennett strategic decisions, and whatever else I might devise.6

_________________________________________________

1 again, for consistency, I'll refer to each season by the year in which it started.

2 almost 10% less

3 since, as K.T. Harrell and James Johnson know, you only receive playing time if you can play defense

4 at WA State from '07 - '08, a 30% drop in returning minutes and a more difficult schedule yielded one less point per game surrendered.

5 After all, even the Pack Line has some limitations

6 or topics suggested by you (hint)

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