An Early Look at the 2009 NCAA Tournament and the 2009 NBA Draft

Posted on January 22, 2009 by


Today’s guest post is another excellent offering from Erich Doerr .  Erich first contacted me prior to the 2006 NBA Draft with a statistical preview in hand.  Each subsequent year has seen improvement in the depth and breadth of his analysis. Outside of his basketball writing, Erich does consulting work for major software products by day and has started a fledgling sports-themed Open Source software initiative by night. 

While the NBA season is reaching a midpoint, the NCAA has already started steamrolling towards the best tourney on earth.  Using the same techniques applied in analyzing last year’s NCAA brackets, I have built a NCAA Monte Carlo simulator to analyze the remainder of this season.  The table that follows reports each team’s expected conference wins and the likelihood of a regular season conference title.

Table One: 2008-09 Conference Preview

To summarize, while North Carolina was blessed with the returns of Hansbrough and Lawson, Duke is statistically more likely to win the ACC given UNC’s rough start.  The Big East remains up for grabs with current leader Marquette due for a tough schedule, giving them a ~5% shot to win the conference.  Finally, even though the Sun Devils currently sit in fourth place, Arizona State comes in as the most likely team to win the Pac 10 regular season title.

Freshman & Draft Dreamin’

Recently, BasketballProspectus’s John Gasaway reviewed his top 25 freshmen.  Riffing on that article, the following table shows Gasaway’s top 25 and their PAWS stats (I’ve also included some top PAWS prospects that missed Gasaway’s list). 

Table Two: The Top Freshman in 2008-09

 Right off the top you’ll notice some Win Score skepticism for Greg Monroe, mostly due to his subpar rebounding to this point.  While the Win Score approach hesitates to endorse Greg Monroe, the scouting staff at does not, placing him as the third best talent in their 2009 Mock Draft.  Last year, DraftExpress kindly published my draft recap which included an early review of their 2009 mock draft.  Since then, more data is available and I have been able to update my analysis of next summer’s prospects with their current Win Score marks (see Table Three below).

Table Three: 2009 NBA Draft Prospects

Comparing DX’s post-draft mock made in July to their latest release, Blake Griffin has inherited their premier prospect crown (as Rubio seems to be pushing back his NBA arrival).  Griffin made a wise move to stay at Oklahoma, where he’s taken large strides in improving his rebounding and FG%. The stats match the scouting assessment, as his NCAA PAWS puts him in the top three.

Two Win Score SG favorites are also rising on the DX boards. James Harden and Stephen Curry have jumped from borderline lottery to top eight mock draft picks.  The top NCAA PAWS player currently is #1 Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, who now projects as a mid first rounder.  Blair’s rebounding prowess is unquestionable, though his 6’7″ frame can be seen as a knock against his NBA potential. 

We should remember that although the season is half-over, prospects still have plenty of time to turn up their performances.  By this time last season, Derrick Rose was still playing to the level of an average NCAA guard, whereas he turned on the afterburners in February.

Speaking of last year’s performance, I want to comment briefly on the Kenny George story.  George was a top player in college last year.  Unfortunately, Kenny George may never get a chance to post an NBA Win Score.  His career is now threatened by an unfortunate staph infection leading to the partial amputation of his foot. I wish him the best in recovery whether his future includes basketball or not.

A Super Bowl Link

As a final note, with the Super Bowl descending upon us, many readers may be interested in making the popular Superbowl Squares pools a bit more statistical and a bit less square.  The linked Excel tool can do just that.  Using data from, I have loaded up an Excel sheet that will provide users with expected values on Squares given any set of house rules.  The information can be used to barter squares, run a pool, or value combinations for auction purchase.  Of course, the Wages of Wins blog does not condone gambling (Dave made me say that), so use that monopoly money wisely.

– Erich

The WoW Journal Comments Policy

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.