Conference vs Non-Conference Stats

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While everyone is well into conference play at this point in the season, the majority of games for most teams are still non-conference games.  So, let’s talk about what you can and can’t take away from those games as compared to conference games.

At every level, you can schedule your way to a winning season by playing teams from a lower division or who simply underfund their athletic program.  I know from my experience at the D3 level, there are plenty of schools in the latter category and it’s hard to build winning programs there.

Non-Conference Games

Because of this, you need to be wary of non-conference games, what I like to do is order games by their margin of victory.  This allows you to see the games where the margin was 20 or more points and more or less disregard them.  You should then zero in on games that are closer wins or losses (10 points or less) and the games where maybe they lost by a significant margin.  Of course, in the non-conference world, that could be a situation where a school is playing up a level to bring in some revenue for the program.  Even with the variance in results, you can still look at certain stats like rebounding and turnovers to get a feel for what a team emphasizes and even their pace of play.  I would ignore the shooting percentages because a really bad or really good opponent can lead to some odd results here.  All of the above is relevant to your scouting report.

Conference Games

Conference games are much more reliable because you can KNOW what these opponents are really like and since it’s a common set of opponents, you can draw more conclusions about where you and your upcoming opponent stand relative to the league.  The only problem in mid-January could be a lack of conference games to where it’s harder to draw some conclusions from a small sample size.  But as you move into February, it’s best to emphasize conference only stats not only because of the above but also because they are the most recent games for an opponent.  Often it will become clear if a team’s great record is legit or engineered against bad opponents.