Investigating Garbage Time: North Carolina's Inconsistencies, Indiana's Dominance, and Middle Tennessee?

By looking at games where the Win Probability is greater than 95 percent, I am able to quantify how much time each team┬áspends in “garbage” time. While this is not a perfect metric, I believe it is accurate enough to see which teams are playing in blowouts and which are not. If a team has a Win Probability greater than 95 percent, I called it “positive” garbage time, and if a team is on the other side of that game, with a win probability below 5 percent, then they’re in “negative” garbage time.

There are two different metrics based on this stat I want to display.

The first is called “Net Positive Play Percentage,” which is the difference in percent of plays that are “positive” compared to the percent of plays that are “negative”. For example, if a team played in 100 plays, and 10 were “positive” garbage time and nine were “negative”, the team would have a “Net Positive Play Percentage” of nine percent.

All of the teams in the list are highly ranked by my system and KenPom’s, and most of these teams are getting love in the polls. People may not realize how well Middle Tennessee has played all year. KenPom and I both have them ranked at #25. Memphis is one of the teams we have huge disparity on. I’ve got them ranked 7th, but KenPom has them ranked 41st (they are ranked #19 and #17 respectively in the AP & Coaches).

The second metric is a measurement of the difference between a team’s rank in Positive Plays and Net Positive Plays. I chose to filter for teams in the top 50 of “positive” play percentage , because I think this is a good indicator of which teams are inconsistent (because they will have lots “positive” and “negative” plays).

Obviously, the two teams that jump off this list are North Carolina and Kentucky. Even though both teams are playing better basketball as of late, they have both been models of inconsistency. Even before the injury to Nerlens Noel, Kentucky had been experiencing issues (especially on the road). North Carolina has also started to play up their expectations. They’ve won seven of their past nine, with the two losses coming on the road at Miami and Duke. Minnesota, coming off a win against #1 Indiana on Tuesday, has also been the victim of a 21-point drubbing in Iowa City and a 26-point defeat three days later in Columbus.

[Photo via USA Today Sports Images]

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