Sweet 16 Preview: Pace and Efficiency

The tempo of the games has been a major factor in the number of upsets during the 2013 NCAA tournament . In the Round of 64, the extra-slow vegas favorites tended to lose. In the Round of 32, many of the favored teams had to adjust to the tempo of their foes, with mixed results.

Indiana’s struggles in low-possession games are well publicized. The Hoosiers played one of their slowest games of the season against Temple in the third round on Sunday. This was dictated by the Owls’ half-court offense and their ability to negate Indiana’s transition offense. It produced a tight game that was ultimately decided by a Victor Oladipo three-pointer.

The charts below show performance at slow, medium and fast pace for each matchup in the Sweet Sixteen. This data is from box scores of every game each team played this season. In order to determine performance, the opponents’ points per possession is subtracted from offensive points per possession at each tempo level. The result is the PPP +/-.

The data show that Indiana’s struggles at a slow pace are eerily similar to their Sweet Sixteen foe in Syracuse. This one should stay close no matter the pace.

In most of these games, the difference in performance between the teams is minimal at each level. However, in the cases of Michigan/Kansas and Michigan State/Duke, the tempos could be a major factor in deciding who wins and loses.

Vertical lines = projected tempo of the game. (Team 1’s 2013 adjusted tempo * Team 2’s 2013 adjusted tempo)/2013 Div. I tempo.

2013 Sweet Sixteen Pace

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