The credit for the idea of this story goes to John Clay, who wrote a blog post today comparing the Kentucky and Louisville losses to Duke with exactly the same thing using traditional statistics. Around A Sea of Blue, we eschew traditional statistics in favor of advanced statistics, and have for a long time. So I thought I'd take his idea and use the advanced statistics, namely the Four Factors to Winning, from both games.
First for Kentucky:
And now for Louisville
As you can see, the shooting is remarkably similar. Kentucky shot the ball better against Duke, but also gave up a better shooting percentage than Louisville did. Both Kentucky and Louisville turned the ball over more, but in Louisville's case it was by an insignificant amount. Louisville resoundingly outrebounded the Blue Devils on the offensive glass, which should surprise nobody.
But the last statistic is the one which tells the tale. Rick Pitino's famous saying, "Fouls negate hustle," is presented here in stark relief. Just as in the game between Kentucky and the Morehead St. Eagles, the Blue Devils paraded to the free throw line and shot 85% there, offsetting some poor 3-point shooting percentages.
What is to be learned here? For the Cardinals, their pressure defense will only produce victories when the team learns to avoid fouls. This was a game Louisville could have had on the strength of their rebounding, but gave away by failing to follow their coach's own First Commandment of pressure defense.
For Kentucky, the lesson is this -- if the Wildcats continue to allow opponents to rebound offensively at a high rate while doing a poor job on the offensive glass themselves, they are likely to suffer the fate that the Blue Devils narrowly avoided -- a defeat at the hands of Louisville.
But Louisville has problems of their own now. With Gorgui Dieng out with a broken wrist, and the Cardinals poor perimeter shooting (currently 220th in Division I), they must be considered offensively challenged, just like last year. Last year, defense got them to the Final Four. One wonders if they can repeat that feat.