What Are TFS?

This post was originally published on November 11, 2009

It occurred to me yesterday that none of us here at Beadlemaniacs had done a very good job yet of saying just why tempo free stats were better than non tempo free stats. Granted, this isn’t a new thing. If you go to KenPom, read Basketball Prospectus, or read this man’s book on defense in basketball (published in 1959!) you have a good sense of tempo free stats. But for those of you to whom this is your first introduction, read on.

The basic crux of tempo free stats is thus: teams play at different paces. Especially in college basketball, where there are 300+ teams of varying skill level and depth. To call one 80 ppg team equivalent to another 80 ppg team is a misnomer. 80 possessions for each team (roughly) is what you would call a fast game and 60 (again, roughly) is what you would call a slow one. Last year, the average was 67 possessions. Texas State was the fastest team (79.8) while Samford was the slowest (56.8). The tempo average has been within .7 possessions of 67 every year of KenPom’s existence.

How is it calculated? Glad you asked. Fortunately there are a lot of places out there to do it for you, but if you want to get an estimate, just use this equation:

FGAs – off. rebs + TOs + (0.475 x FTAs)

That’s it. Our crux for every calculation we come up with as far as offensive and defensive efficiency is concerned.

For example: Effective FG%. I’ve already outlined in a previous post that the formula for EFG is (FGM + (0.5 x 3PM))/FGA. Let’s use this in an illustration: Last year Kansas was 2nd in the Big 12 with a 47.9 straight FG%, while Oklahoma State was down in 5th with a 45.7% mark. But, Oklahoma State had the edge in EFG 54% to 53.4%. Why? Well, for starters, the Cowboys took a lot more threes. They also made a lot more threes. The old saying goes, making a third of your threes is as good as making half of your twos. And it is basically correct. So, what you do with EFG is recognize that a three pointer is worth .5 more than a made two.

We’ll have much more on this and what it all means. But we just wanted to make sure you have a solid base when you come here and read. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.


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