| Background | Basic | Marginal | Margin of Victory | Miscellaneous |
One benefit of having an extensive data set of statistics is that it's possible to analyze and determine what is necessary historically to achieve success, in particular via wins or margin of victory. In most cases, these sets of data need to be confined to a particular time or coaching era, given that the game itself changes over time.
In many of these charts, the win % is charted against the parameter of interest, such as points scored by UK. Two series are typically included:
Typically if the parameter shows a postive impact toward's UK's likelihood of winning, then in the case of Series A (given value or less) one would expect to see a gradual rise from a very low number up to UK's overall win % during that era as eventually all results are included. Conversely, for Series B (given value or more) one starts with all results and thus UK's overall win% during the given date range and that gradually rises higher until eventually it reaches 100%.
The value that the win% becomes nearly 100% is a good indication of what value UK needs to achieve to virtually assure victory.
Of course if the parameter does not show a general postive impact at all times (for example if UK is able to win despite having only very low values, or UK manages to lose despite achieving very high values, then the charts are skewed and don't follow the general expectation.
These outliers can play an outsized role at the extremes as there are relatively few games played at the extremes, so when an outlier occurs it can overwhelm the general trend which is more apparent in regions where a statistically significant number of games are played.
Obviously a key factor in win% is the number of points the team scores. While point margin is the definitive factor in whether a team wins or loses, the basic number of points Kentucky scores in a game is also critical.
The chart below shows (looking at Series A (red)) that when Kentucky scores below 55 points they have virtually no chance of winning, but the odds improve steadily up to about 80 points or less, at which time UK is winning about 75% of their games.
Looking at Series B (green), by the time UK scores around 85 points or more in a game, they are a virtual lock for victory.
Another statistic which shows a strong positive correlation with winning is the number of assists a team earns. Per the charts looking at Series A (red) there's a strong positive increase with winning between 6 and 14 assists. Looking at the Sereis B (green) if UK is able to secure about 20 assists in a game, they are a virtual lock for a victory.
Rebounds is not as clear as the previous two factors, although it does show an overall positive correlation with winning. Looking at Series A (red) there's a general positive correlation up to about 35 rebounds secured, and this becomes steady and close to UK's overall win% at around 45 rebounds secured or less. Looking at Series B (green), if UK is able to secure slightly more than 50 or more rebounds, they are a virtual lock to win.
3-pt Field Goals
A stat which appears to have a less direct impact on winning is the number of three-point field goals Kentucky hits in a game, judging from the data. The chart above actually shows that when UK hits only a very few three-pointers, they actually have a perfect win%, higher than their historic average even.
Of course the numbers around the fringes can be dramatically influenced by a few outliers. To illustrate the relative number of instances of games at each 3-pt field goal made in a game, below is the distribution curve.
3-pt Field Goal Attempts
When looking at 3-pt Field Goal Attempts, the impact of additional attempts appears to have little discernable positive impact on Kentucky's win percentage.
The above charts look only at the statistics of Kentucky. A more impactful statistic is how Kentucky performs directly against their opponent in the particular game. To look at this, the margin is calculated for various statistical categories, where UK's opponent value is subtracted from UK's own value.
The most impactful is the point margin, although the chart is not interesting as obviously any margin above 0 is a win for Kentucky whereas any negative margin is a loss. For other statistical categories, the relationship is not as drastic.
Looking at assist margin Series A (red), if Kentucky has approximately 10 less assists than their opponent, then they have virtually no chance of winning. There's a positive correlation with winning up to about +6 UK margin. Beyond that, Kentucky is a virtual lock for a victory.
Looking at rebound margin (Series A (red), if Kentucky has approximately 17 less rebounds than their opponent, then they have virtually no chance of winning. There's a positive correlation with winning from there (-17 margin) up to -8 margin and this hovers in that range (65 win %) up to about a a +6 margin. Beyond that, the positive correlation resumes. If UK has +20 rebound margin then they have a virtual lock for victory.
3-pt Field Goal Margin
When looking at 3-pt Field Goal Margin, the trend is very unusual. Despite what one might assume, in games where Kentucky has a dramatic deficit in 3-point field goals as compared to their opponent's, UK has a perfect record. Beyond that, even in an area where UK enjoys a positive margin of 3-pt shots over their opponent in the range of +5 to +8, UK's winning percentage actually decreases.
As with 3-pt field goals by themselves, the distribution curve shows that outliers heavily impact the unusual shape of the curve.
In these particular cases, some of games with exceedingly negative margin (opponent's shot many more 3's than UK) were typically teams that themselves shot many three's while they didn't have much of an inside defensive presence to prevent Kentucky from scoring inside easily (and thus Kentucky didn't need to shoot many threes to win.)
This includes games versus VMI [18-NOV-2018] (-14 margin), Davidson [15-MAR-2018] (-11 margin), Harvard [2-DEC-2017] (-10 margin), Utah Valley [18-NOV-2019] (-10 margin), Miami (OH) [16-NOV-2009] (-9 margin) etc.
Margin of Victory
A more specific measure looking at the impact on various statistical variables on Kentucky's probability is to look directly at the relationship between UK's point margin [UK points minus Opponent points] and plot that against the margin of the variable at hand.
Below are some of these plots. Obviously any point margin above zero was a win. Conversely any point margin below zero resulted in a loss.
3-pt Field Goals
3-pt Field Goal Attempts
The above chart shows UK's win percentage as a function of the halftime point margin. The data points in blue are the win percentages at each distinct halftime margin, while the green and red are the typical cumulative win percentages as in previous charts.
It is noteworthy that this data aligns quite well with the win probability charts that Brian Burke of ESPN Analytics wrote about in the following article.
If there are additional graphs you would like to see or any comments or interesting findings you see in the graphs, feel free to with any corrections or additional information. Return to Kentucky Basketball page, statistics, team schedules, team rosters, opponents, players, coaches, opposing coaches, games, assistance or search this site.
Return to Kentucky Basketball page, statistics, team schedules, team rosters, opponents, players, coaches, opposing coaches, games, assistance or search this site.