SPORTS

How Iowa, Iowa State and UNI stack up in six charts

Take a look into deeper statistical evidence that helps define the three NCAA Tournament-bound teams in Iowa

Iowa Hawkeyes forward Aaron White (30) gestures after scoring a three point basket during the second half of a men's bas
Iowa Hawkeyes forward Aaron White (30) gestures after scoring a three point basket during the second half of a men's basketball game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, March 7, 2015. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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With conference tournaments in full swing, and the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, the waiting period for the Big Dance is a good time to take stock of what teams have become this season.

Aside from watching games and looking at traditional box scores, a great way to learn more and more about college (and pro, for that matter) basketball teams is to use advanced statistics. The leading advanced stats website is operated by Ken Pomeroy, called http://www.kenpom.com.

A subscription to KenPom grants users the ability to delve deep into the analytical side of the game and learn about what truly defines a basketball team — at what a given team is best and worst. For the purposes of basketball fans in Iowa, The Gazette compiled some of the key statistics KenPom offers and collected them for Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa to see how they compare in each category.

On the charts, "Rank" represents how each team ranked nationally in the listed category, while "Nation" represents the national average. Readers can click on the "Offense" and "Defense" buttons above the charts to see how each team did offensively and defensively in the category. Readers can also rollover/click on the bars for more information.

One disclaimer, before we get into the categories: we know each team plays in a different league, and not all three have played each other. This doesn't serve as a pick of which we think is the best team. We've compiled the numbers for you to decide. Let @CRGazetteSports, @ScottDochterman, @jeremiahdavis10 and @dylanmontz know what you think.

Adjusted tempo

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The tempo of a team is measured in possessions a team has per 40 minutes (a regulation-length college game). The national average for possessions per 40 minutes sits at 64.8 (as of March 15), so 65 and higher is considered a fast-paced team. The fastest-paced team in the country is Virginia Military Institute, which runs at 77.2 possessions per 40 minutes.

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As anyone who's watched Iowa State could predict, the Cyclones have been in the top 10 in the nation in tempo all season and sits 16th after the Big 12 Tournament with 69.5. Northern Iowa sits at the opposite end of that spectrum with 58.5 possessions per 40 minutes, ranking them 348th. Iowa is just shy of the national average, with 64.3.

Tempo doesn't correlate at all to record — VMI is 11-19 and UNI is 30-3, and are almost as far apart as it gets — rather describes a team's attitude and offensive philosophy.

Adjusted efficiency

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Efficiency is measured in points per possession and is split into offensive and defensive categories. To find ppp, divide the point total in a game by the possessions a team has had. Possessions are found with a formula developed by statisticians: Field goals attempted — offensive rebounds + turnovers + (0.475 x free throws attempted).

The national average is 1.021 points per possession. An offense with a higher number is considered efficient, and likewise is true for a defense giving up less than that per possession.

Iowa State may play at a very fast pace, but they can and do because it's very effective at that pace. The Cyclones average 1.189 ppp, seventh in the nation. But as a fast pace works for ISU, the deliberate pace works for UNI, which averages 1.138 ppp, good for 15th. Iowa isn't far behind UNI, sitting 35th in the nation at 1.112 ppp. Defensively, all three teams are also above average. Unsurprisingly — given the team focus on it — UNI is best among them at 16th in the country, giving up 0.932 ppp. Iowa is close behind, giving up 0.950 ppp and ranks 43rd. Iowa State gives up 0.977 ppp and sits 82nd.

Effective field goal percentage

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Effective field goal percentage is a truer shooting statistic, breaking from conventional shooting percentage by factoring in that 3-point field goals are worth more.

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The formula to determine eFG is: (Field goals made + 0.5 x 3-pointers made) / Field goals attempted. The national average for eFG is 49.0.

UNI is tops among the three state schools at eighth in the nation, with an offensive eFG of 56.2 percent. Iowa State isn't far behind at 18th in the nation with at 54.7 percent. Iowa is 230th in the nation at 47.8 percent. The defensive part of this category is opponents' eFG against each team. Though Iowa is third of state schools offensively, the Hawkeyes are tied with UNI at holding opponents to the lowest eFG with 45.1 percent (ranked 30th and 31st in the nation respectively). Iowa State ranks 124th in eFG, allowing opponents 47.9 percent.

Turnover percentage

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Turnover percentage is found by taking turnovers / possessions. It measures the percentage of time in a game an offense turns the ball over or defense forces a turnover.

The national average for turnover percent is 19.1, so offenses below that number protect the ball at an above average rate; defenses above that number force turnovers at an above average rate.

Iowa State has one of the best point guards in the nation in Monte Morris, who has the nation's best assist/turnover ratio. So it's not shocking to find that the Cyclones are best among the three schools, turning the ball over 15.8 percent of the time, 16th best in the nation. Iowa and UNI also take care of the ball at an above average rate, with the Hawkeyes at 17.4 percent and the Panthers 18 percent.

Defensively, both Iowa and UNI are close to the national average. The Hawkeyes are tied with the Panthers at 19.3. The Cyclones' defense forces a turnover 18.5 percent of the time.

Offense rebound percentage

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The ORB percent is an estimate of the percentage of available offensive rebounds a team grabbed in a given game. The defensive side of that statistic measures the percentage a team allows its opponent. The formula is: Offensive rebounds / (offensive rebounds + defensive rebounds).

Each of the three state schools are good on one end or the other, but none of them on both. Iowa, for example, ranks 34th in the nation with an ORB percentage of 35.8, but the Hawkeyes' opponents' offensive rebounds make up 30.5 percent of their total, putting Iowa 145th in the country. Northern Iowa's ORB percentage is 26.9 (302nd in the nation), but the Panthers' opponents also only grab an offensive rebound 26.9 percent of the time, which ranks UNI 30th. Iowa State's ORB is 28.5, placing 264th, while the Cyclones' opponents' is 29.2, putting them 85th.

Free throw rate

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Free throw rate measures a team's ability to get to the free throw line in a game. The formula is: Free throws attempted / Field goals attempted.

Though all three state schools get to the line more often than the national average, only Northern Iowa is in the top 100, ranking 90th at 40.2 percent. Iowa ranks 108th in the nation with 39.6 percent and Iowa State ranks 161st at 37.4 percent. On the flip side, all three teams do a good job of keeping opponents off the free throw line. Iowa State tops the state schools and ranks 4th in the nation in opponent free throw rate at 24.3 percent. UNI is 11th at 26.7 percent, and Iowa is 26th at 29.2 percent.

*Story by Jeremiah Davis. Interactive infographics by Chris Essig.

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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