Skip to main content

2018 NCAA Women's Tourney Preview

With this year's NCAA women's tournament getting underway tonight, it's time for my annual Conference-Adjusted Combined Offensive-Defensive (CACOD) ratings of the leading teams (explanation). In a nutshell, the CACOD takes each team's season-long hitting percentage, divides it by the aggregate hitting percentage it has allowed its opponents, and then multiplies the result by an adjustment factor for difficulty of conference. Relevant numbers for this year's seeded teams are shown as follows (with the actual CACOD ratio listed under "adjratio"). You can click on the graphic to enlarge it.

The first thing that jumps out at me is that Nebraska is grossly under-seeded (No. 7), relative to its CACOD rating (best in the nation at 2.49). The Cornhuskers' defense, allowing a microscopic .130 opposition hitting percentage, is key to the high CACOD rating, along with the 1.25 adjustment factor for playing in the Big 10. And what a Big 10 season it was, with five of the top eight national seeds coming from the conference! Nebraska went 15-5 in Big 10 play, losing twice to Minnesota (No. 2 national seed), splitting with Illinois (No. 3 seed) and Penn State (No. 8 seed), and losing its only match to No. 6 seed Wisconsin (in five in Madison).

BYU, which charged out of the gate with an early win over Stanford and was ranked No. 1 for most of the season, allowed a comparably low .139 opposition hitting percentage, while the Cougars hit a very high .318. BYU had the highest unadjusted ratio of own to opponents' hitting percentage (2.29), but received no boost to its CACOD value by playing in the West Coast Conference.

The Cougars nearly went undefeated this year, losing only in their regular-season finale at Loyola Marymount. A likely contributor to BYU's late-season difficulties was outside-hitter McKenna Miller's season-ending ACL injury, suffered on November 8 vs. Santa Clara.

BYU's offense relied heavily during the season on two hitters: OH Roni Jones-Perry, who took a team-leading 882 hitting attempts on the season (30.3% of the Cougars' 2,910 attempts as a team), recording a very strong .346 hitting percentage; and Miller, who was second on the team in attack attempts with 602 swings (20.7% of the team total) and had a .307 hitting percentage. (Click here for BYU's season stats sheet.)

With someone who takes one-fifth of your team's swings -- Miller -- out of the lineup, how would the Cougars make up for this absence? Potentially, others among BYU's leading hitters, including middle-blocker Heather Gneiting (.393 hitting percentage on 349 attempts), MB Kennedy Eschenberg (.356 on 374 attempts), and OH Madelyn Robinson (.246 on 281 swings) would receive more sets in Miller's absence. However, as the following graph shows, this is not what has happened. 

Comparing individual players' hitting attempts (as a percent of the team's total) in the four matches before Miller's injury (left of grey bar) to hitting attempts in the four matches after, we see that the only hitter who has shown an increase in hitting attempts post-Miller injury is Jones-Perry (green line in graph), who already was the team's iron-woman. Jones-Perry is also among the team leaders in digs (1.93 per game) and blocks (0.67 per game).

On a concluding note (for now), we have seven years of data on the CACOD, so there's a pretty decent track record. One finding is that no team with a CACOD lower than 1.91 has ever won the NCAA title. As they say in television commercials for investment companies, "Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance." Still, I would say that this year's champion is likely to come from the pool of teams with CACOD values of 1.9 or higher.


Popular posts from this blog

My Simple Prediction Equation for the NCAA Women's Tourney

Two years ago, I created a very simple prediction equation for the NCAA women's tournament. Each team gets its own value on the predictive measure. To calculate it, you take a team's overall hitting percentage at the end of the regular season and divide it by the hitting percentage the team allowed its opponents (in the aggregate). The result is then multiplied by an adjustment factor for conference strength, as shown here . For any match in the NCAA tourney, the team with the higher value on my measure would be expected to win. In both 2012 and 2011 , my formula did about as well as other, more complicated ranking formulas. I'm not going to do a full-scale analysis for this year's bracket , but I wanted to mention the formula and provide some sample calculations, in case anyone wanted to compute a score this week for his or her favorite team. The necessary information should be available from the volleyball page of a given school's athletics website. Here are 20

My Vote for Off the Block's Men's Collegiate Server of the Year

I was invited once again this year to vote for the Off the Block men's collegiate volleyball awards . The number of awards has increased and I've been very busy this semester, so I may not have time to conduct statistical analyses for all of the categories. However, I have conducted an analysis to determine my votes for National Server of the Year. The NCAA men's volleyball statistics site (see links column to the right) provides an aces-per-set statistic. Aces are only one part of judging serving ability, in my view. Someone might be able to amass a large ace total by attempting extremely hard jump serves at every opportunity, but such aggressive serving likely would also lead to a high rate of service errors. Another aspect to consider would be serves that, while not aces, still took the opposing team out of its offensive system. Only aces and service errors are listed in publicly available box scores, however. What I did, therefore, was find out the top 10 players in

Statistical Notes Heading into Women's Final Four (2013)

With this year's NCAA women's Final Four getting underway Thursday night in Seattle, today's posting offers some statistical observations. The two semifinal match-ups feature defending champion Texas vs. upstart Wisconsin, and Penn State vs. hometown favorite Washington. Wisconsin, a one-time power that had missed the NCAA tourney from 2008 through 2012, is now back in an ascendant mode under new coach Kelly Sheffield. Seeded 12th nationally, the Badgers benefited in their part of the bracket from the fact that SEC teams Missouri (No. 4 seed) and Florida (No. 5 seed) were Paper Tigers and Gators, respectively. Having said that, Wisconsin may be the kind of team that can give Texas a tough match (like Michigan in last year's semifinal ). A year ago, I developed a statistic that attempts to measure teams' "grind-it-out" tendencies . To me a grind-it-out team is one that lacks spikers with pulverizing power, but digs opponents' attacks well and avoid