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Tempo-free Time: How efficient are we?

Chris Lane over at theNovaBlog brought up offensive and defensive efficiency in a recent post. Those are compound-statistics created by adherents of the tempo-free school of thought (like a basketball-version of SABR), such as Ken Pomeroy.

Though these ratings are "tempo-free" the actual pace at which a team plays is a major component of how the statistics are generated. Villanova's 20+ turnovers against Seton Hall, for example, might look good if they had played twice as many possessions.

While on the topic of pace, Chris pointed out:

The one thing that sticks out in my mind is the fact that we have been playing at a much slower pace than we have in years past. The last 2-3 years, we've been playing most of our games in the 70's and 80's. This year, it's the 60's and 70's for the most part.

The slow-down offense that has been much discussed in the comments here, is likely the primary culprit for that. In fact, the Villanova defense has a similar effect, in that it forced opponents to use more of the clock to get a shot they like. A short bench and injury concerns is likely the reason why Jay Wright wants to slow the game down this season, avoiding injury and fatigue by slowing the game down.

Chart courtesy of Rumble In the Garden

Those efficiency ratings have changed since the chart was published, of course, and Pico used while I am more an adherent of Ken Pomeroy's site myself. On Ken Pomeroy's site, Villanova is currently ranked 13th overall, with an offensive efficiency of 116.6 (14th) and a defensive efficiency of 91.7 (33rd).

No team ranked outside of the top-25 in defensive efficiency has made a Final Four appearance since Pomeroy's ratings started. It is also rare for a team with an offensive ranking outside the top-25 to get to the last weekend of the season.

Villanova spent most of the season prior to the Rutgers game within the top-25 in each of those categories. The loss at Rutgers saw Villanova's defensive efficiency tank from around 25th to the mid-30s. A sudden bout of turnovers in that game, allowed Rutgers to score quickly and without much challenge.

It may be difficult to recover now, but the return of Corey Stokes to the line-up may help stem the slide at least some.