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Boston College Basketball: Ken Pomeroy AdjO / AdjD Rankings As Indicator Of Team Success

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kenpom suggests this year's BC team is, well, pretty average.

Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston College Eagles men's basketball team (6-4) has started off the year with mixed results. Christian's Eagles have a couple of "quality" wins over Providence and New Mexico, a bunch of wins over teams they were expected to beat—New Hampshire, Marist, Maine and Binghamton—and an ostensibly bad loss to USC.

Things appeared to be on the upswing before the USC setback. Now Eagles fans are left scratching their heads asking what they have in year 1 of the Jim Christian era of Boston College basketball. Could history be a guide here?

I wanted to see if history could prove useful in determining just how successful this first year will go for Christian and the Eagles. Using 14 years worth of Ken Pomeroy ratings, can we correlate offensive and defensive efficiency with overall success over the years?

Here is Boston College's adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency from 2002-2014.

Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
AdjO 75 4 53 20 6 16 79 37 55 14 294 45 30
AdjD 81 201 22 50 108 130 150 154 110 226 185 192 298

A couple things immediately stand out. Uber-efficient offensive teams in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011; all made the postseason and only 2011 fell short of an NCAA Tournament berth. Very solid defensive teams in 2004 and 2005. Generally where there's a low national ranking, BC was more than likely in the NCAA Tournament that season (Donahue's offensive wunderkinds of 2011 and 2014 excepted).

Next, to correlate kenpom's AdjO and AdjD to overall team success, I took the average of the AdjO and AdjD rankings and compared to the team's overall winning percentage. Sorted from best winning percentage to worst.

Year AdjO AdjD Avg AdjO/AdjD Record Win. Pct. NCAA Coach
2005 20 50 35.0 25-5 0.833 4 seed Skinner
2004 53 22 37.5 24-10 0.706 6 Skinner
2006 6 108 57.0 28-8 0.778 4 Skinner
2007 16 130 73.0 21-12 0.636 7 Skinner
2002 75 81 78.0 20-12 0.625 11 Skinner
2010 55 110 82.5 15-16 0.484 Skinner
2009 37 154 95.5 22-12 0.647 7 Skinner
2003 4 201 102.5 19-12 0.613 Skinner
2008 79 150 114.5 14-17 0.452 Skinner
2013 45 192 118.5 16-17 0.485 Donahue
2011 14 226 120.0 21-13 0.618 Donahue
2014 30 298 164.0 8-24 0.250 Donahue
2012 294 185 239.5 9-22 0.290 Donahue

Pretty good correlation between Ken Pom's data and BC's team success. The best team of the last 14 years just so happens to be the NCAA Tournament #4 seed and darkhorse National Champion pick—don't laugh, I still have the New York Times newspaper clipping picking BC to win it all lying around somewhere. Meanwhile, Steve Donahue lays claim to the four worst teams over that same stretch—a big reason why he's no longer gainfully employed on the Heights.

Two years stand out as outliers. Skinner's 2009-10 team that bottomed out at 15-16 overall is the sixth best team by this measure, though that's more a product of being good not great in both phases of the game. The other is Donahue's first season, where he parlayed a senior-laden roster left by Skinner into a 21-13 record before narrowly missing out on the tournament and landing in the NIT. That season is weighed down by a defense that ranked 226th nationally, despite boasting the nation's 14th most efficient offense. That AdjO-AdjD spread was just ridiculous and has to be a record of some sorts.

With the obvious caveat that it's still pretty early in the year—so take the 2015 numbers with a mound of salt—here's where Christian's Eagles stand at the 10-game mark:

Year AdjO AdjD Avg AdjO/AdjD Record Win. Pct. NCAA Coach
2013 45 192 118.5 16-17 0.485 Donahue
2011 14 226 120.0 21-13 0.618 Donahue
2015 150 138 144.0 6-4 0.600 Christian
2014 30 298 164.0 8-24 0.250 Donahue
2012 294 185 239.5 9-22 0.290 Donahue

This year's Eagles would rank 12th (of 15) by this measure. Basically, we have ourselves a middle-of-the-road Donahue squad with a couple key grad transfers (Brown, Batten) playing (much) improved defense. The offense is well off the pace under Donahue (even with the awful 2011-12 squad factored in, Donahue's teams averaged an AdjO rank of 95.75) but the defense is better than its been at any point over the last four years.

In a nutshell, this team is very...average. I expect BC's AdjO and AdjD rank to get slightly worse as the Eagles have yet to run the ACC gauntlet (even if the conference is also very average this year and BC avoids playing each of the big four twice). Even if these numbers drop off slightly, that likely leaves BC with one of the worst offenses of the last 14 years (second only to 2011-12) and a statistically average BC defense (avg. AdjD 147). Whether BC can hit a modest end-of-season goal of say, .500 overall, remains to be seen, but these numbers aren't all that encouraging considering two-thirds of BC's six wins have come against kenpom 200+ outfits, and half over 300+ ones.

That said, fans need to realize this is simply not a quick fix situation. The good news is that recruiting is already positively trending. Nice to see Christian steal a page out of Addazio's playbook in landing a pair of impact fifth year grad transfers to supplement the roster of talent the staff inherited. With two quality* wins over Providence and New Mexico that this team probably wouldn't have won a year ago and four wins over teams BC should be expected to beat, I'm cautiously optimistic that this team will win some games in league play and be infinitely more enjoyable to watch than last year's squad. To me, that's all you can really ask of Christian and the team in year one. This is gonna take some time.

* loosely defined as quality for where the program currently sits in the rebuild quality

HT: TNIAAM