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Pac-12 Basketball: What Does History Tell Us About This Year’s Pac-12 Teams?

Similarity scores show how this year’s Pac-12 teams compare to teams in the past.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Oregon Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best ways to predict future results is to study historical stats that represent present-day teams. The idea of similarity scores was first created by baseball statistician Bill James, who used the concept of comparing players’ statistics from different generations in order to project Hall of Fame status.

Similarity scores can be how complicated or simple as you wish. For the sake of this study, I used each team’s offensive and defensive efficiencies (OE and DE), as well as four factor statistics (eFG%, TO%, OR%, FTRate) from the past 13 seasons, a total of 5,453 D-I teams.

The similarity score takes each of the 5,453 teams and assesses how statistically similar the team is to this year’s present team. It’s essentially a margin of error which connects two teams from any year together.

Tempo was not used as part of the similarity score, because it is more of a stylistic stat, rather than a productivity stat. Yellow highlights represent teams that are in major conferences.

Arizona Wildcats

New Mexico (#7, 2013-14) - Led by senior forward Cameron Bairstow (20.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG), the Lobos finished regular season 27-6 after winning Mountain West tournament, but fell 58-53 to #10 Stanford in the round of 64.

Maryland (#5, 2015-16) - A preseason top 5 team, Melo Trimble and the Terps were knocked off by Kansas in the Sweet 16 after topping #12 South Dakota State and #13 Hawaii in the first weekend.

Notre Dame (#2, 2010-11) - This was a really solid squad with a core of Ben Hansbrough, Tim Abromaitis and Tyrone Nash, but the Irish were upset in the round of 32 by #7 Florida State.

Oregon Ducks

Oklahoma (#2, 2015-16) - Buddy Hield and the Sooners cruised to the Final Four before Villanova trounced OU by 44 in the national semifinal. Oklahoma knocked off Oregon in the Elite Eight round to reach Houston.

Northern Iowa (#5, 2014-15) - UNI cruised to a 30-3 regular season record (and was in the AP top 15 for much of the year). The Panthers didn’t receive the best draw for the tournament, however, falling to a far more talented Louisville team in the round of 32.

Miami FL (#3, 2015-16) - Many were skeptical of this Miami team heading into the dance, but the Hurricanes squeaked by #14 Buffalo and handled #11 Wichita State until it ran into eventual national champion Villanova, a 92-69 blowout.

UCLA Bruins

Creighton (#3, 2013-14) - NPOY Doug McDermott guided the best offense in basketball, but the Jays absolutely tanked in the second round in a 85-55 blowout to #6 Baylor. Creighton was nearly knocked off in the first round to #14 Louisiana Lafayette before Sunday’s debacle.

Michigan (#2, 2013-14) - Michigan reached the Elite Eight in ‘14, but received a favorable draw that led to wins over #15 Wofford, #7 Texas and #11 Tennessee. Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison sunk UM’s title hopes with a game-winning three in the final seconds in Indianapolis.

Notre Dame (#6, 2015-16) - The Fighting Irish were one bad shooting slump away from the Final Four, after scoring just two points over a seven minute stretch in a loss to ACC foe North Carolina. Notre Dame ended the seasons of #11 Michigan, #14 Stephen F. Austin and #7 Wisconsin en route to the Elite Eight.

California Golden Bears

Dayton (#7, 2015-16) - After a couple lengthy tournament runs, Dayton was ousted in the first round to #10 Syracuse, a team which many believed did not belong in the tournament before reaching the Final Four.

California (#12, 2011-12) - This Cal team was placed in the First Four in a winnable matchup against South Florida, but the Bears trailed 33-13 and failed to score a point in the final nine minutes of the first half. Its postseason ended abruptly in Dayton.

Notre Dame (#5, 2007-08) - UND handled #12 George Mason before being pounced on by #4 Washington State in a battle for a Sweet 16 bid. The Irish tallied just 41 points in the loss.

USC Trojans

Georgia Tech (2015-16) - This year’s USC team closely compares to last year’s Georgia Tech squad, which missed the tournament altogether. The Yellow Jackets won two NIT games until it ran into San Diego State’s hard-nosed defense, a 72-56 defeat.

USC (#8, 2015-16) - Last year’s USC club is the second-most similar team. The Trojans fell to Kris Dunn and Providence as the Friars connected on a game-winning layup with 1.7 seconds remaining, ending USC’s season.

BYU (2015-16) - BYU’s name was not called on Selection Sunday either, but the Cougars made the most of its NIT bid, notching victories over UAB, Virginia Tech and Creighton until a 72-70 loss to Valparaiso at Madison Square Garden.

Oregon State Beavers


What are your thoughts on the similar scores for this year’s Pac-12 teams? Leave a comment below or send a Tweet to @boettger_eli and @PacificTakes on Twitter.

(All stats used in this article are courtesy of