"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Official bias

Anybody up for a couple of lead pipe locks? Well, we have two for you, so ante up!

  1. First, take MU to win and cover when Pat Driscoll is officiating the game.
  2. Second, bet big on MU to lose outright if Reggie Greenwood is officiating the game.
Sarcasm aside (we don't condone, support or even have an interest in gambling of any kind), recent history reveals some interesting trends with this pair of officials.

With a tip of the cap to Pardner over at MUScoop, there's one common denominator in each of Marquette's five road wins this season - - - Pat Driscoll is one of the officials. While some MU fans were upset with Driscoll calling the Nova game, we'll show you why his presence is grrrrrrreat for the Golden Eagles. Borrowing shamelessly from Pardner, here are the numbers for Driscoll:
  • This season Driscoll has officiated five MU games -- all road games -- and all wins. Again, that's every single road win for MU this season.
  • Since MU joined the Big East, the Golden Eagles are 9-1 in games Driscoll worked, and 11-2 overall. The only losses were at DePaul last year and the Winthrop game.
  • The kicker? Driscoll arrived late in the first half against Villanova. The result? MU turned a seven point deficit into a 10 point road win.
Here are the 2007-2008 box scores for Driscoll's MU games:

Not everything is lovey-dovey when Driscoll is the ref. After all, we did call the St. John's Free Throw Rate "garbage". There's no way that a team should get to the line over 90% of the time that they take a shot. Also, note that even in these games, Marquette lost on Free Throw Rate factor three out of the five times. Speaking frankly, we don't actually believe that Pat Driscoll is making any calls that influence the game in Marquette's favor. It's more likely just an interesting anomaly, but at least MU fans should lay off complaining when Driscoll works our next game.

Next up is official Reggie Greenwood. Marquette is a rotten 1-6 all-time in the Big East games he has officiated. This year, Marquette is 0-3 in the Big East games Greenwood has officiated. Here are some specifics:
  • Greenwood's crew whistled us on average 26.7 fouls per game vs. 15.3 for our opponents in his Big East games with MU this year.
  • MU averaged 13.6 FT's per game in these three losses vs. 33.3 for our opponents--a 19 FT gap per game!
  • The only Big East game MU won with him was the inaugural Big East opener against UConn. Hey, it only took Steve Novak turning in the greatest individual performance in Big East history to overcome Greenwood's influence that night.
  • Greenwood evens out somewhat in out-of-conference action where MU is 5-6 overall in his games. Of course, that also includes games against opponents like Sacramento State.
Doesn't Reggie Greenwood appreciate aggressive guard play? Anyway, here are the box scores from the three Big East losses in Greenwood's games:

Look at the comparison of the Free Throw Rates for those three games. Although it doesn't particularly stand out, at the time of the WVU game, this was the highest Free Throw Rate an opponent had achieved against Marquette. We also said at the time that this was not a gripe about refs, although new information makes us less sure. While we did get crushed by UConn, and fouled a lot late, that is a startling discrepancy between the two teams. Finally, after the Notre Dame game, we wondered if there was a legitimate gripe about Free Throws. After all, Marquette shot zero free throws in the last 15 minutes of the game, and our FTR was in the bottom 2.5% of all expected results.

Do we think that Reggie Greenwood is conspiring against Marquette? Hardly. However, the patterns suggest he calls the game a particular way that does not favor our defense. For whatever reason, the team has not adjusted to account for his tendencies this year.

Pat Driscoll, your table is ready at Mader's this Saturday evening with our compliments. Reggie Greenwood, the city of Milwaukee is closed on Saturday, please try another locale.

Pardner, thanks!

**this post reflects content from Pardner, NYWarrior and Henry Sugar

**updated to further clarify our position regarding this post


Anonymous said...

I seriously question the wisdom of such posts about betting! Or are you trying to get Marquette some of Boston College's fame?

I can't believe this stupidity.

Rob Lowe said...

The post isn't about betting. That was just an intro.

It's about referee tendencies and our results with two particular referees.

Anonymous said...

With one exception on either side(WV and UW), our losses came against teams with imposing big men (causing us to foul more)and our wins came against teams without.

I doubt there is a conspiracy against us.

By no means do I feel all our games were well officiated (Duke), but this sounds like something there is little to do about short of calling out individual bad plays.

This seems like a whiner post.

TB said...


Or perhaps it shows that MU should (if they don't already) account for the tendencies of the scheduled officials when building a gameplan.

This would be no different than a pitcher/catcher studying the vagaries of how each umpire interprets the strike zone -- and what that means for their own approach in that game.

Eric Gregg anybody?

Anonymous said...

A coach needs to limit the number of things the team is thinking about. FOCUS on our strengths vs their weakness and game plan that way.

These are young kids and need to stay centered on what they can control the most - thier own performance.

At best, the officials should be a byline in the game prep, not a reason to alter a strategy.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, If they know a ref is going to call any hand check, they should back off a bit to avoid ticky-tack fouls. In the WVU and UConn games, you could see the players get fustrated that the calls were going against them and they started letting up which impacted scoring as well. They don't have to completely reshape the game but avoiding hand checks or limiting attempts a drawing a foul might make good sense given thses stats.

Anonymous said...

The word is innuendo. BAD judgement for The Blog, which could be fodder for someone.

TB said...

Thank you, Guy Montag.

Or, bridging to Orwell, maybe we should all be sent to Oceania's Room 101 for re-education after reading such subversive information (data that remains available in far greater detail on any number of other publicly available servers -- that is until The Party discovers them!)

Anonymous said...

come on, get over yourself. Sports are there for people to bet on. Betting is legal in Vegas and online. It happens. Deal with it. Real fans know the spreads and how late calls effect games and money. without gambling (and fantasy sports), the NFL would be on par with the NHL right now and college football would be boring. Thanks for the help Cracked Sidewalks. Cant wait to parlay a sweet MU bet next time Driscoll is reffing!!

Anonymous said...

Let's try again. The implications about specific refs is inappropriate and dangerous. If nothing less, do make up calls exist?

Also, you might go back and check your original blog to see if it is evolving.

Anonymous said...

Some of this infomation may be very useful. My 401k has taken a beating.

Gene Frenkle said...

Anyone that thinks true gamblers can't get this somewhere else (or figure it out themselves) is living in dreamland.

My friends and I always check out who is officiating because we know their tendencies. Any program that doesn't keep track of these tendencies is doing a disservice to their team.

The fact that these tendencies were tracked by Henry Sugar and put onto a page where (get ready!) someone can read them is an interesting read. Does it mean some refs are out to get us or some are out to get to others? Of course not. But, like most of Sugar's numbers, they are to be taken with a grain of salt as something interesting to observe.

I would hope to God that Crean and his staff know the tendencies of some of these refs. Obviously, the refs don't play the game, but take last night's Tennessee/Vandy game and contrast that to the Memphis/Tenn game from Saturday. Last night's crew called an extremely, extremely tight game. Did that crew have a tendency to do this? I don't know, but you can bet that people in the SEC understand these tendencies and they coach their players to at least take this into account.

If you have a crew that's known to call hand checks, you instruct your guys to back off a little. If they let things go, you throttle down the D.

Being holier than thou about how printing this story somehow promotes gambling or hurts the fragile little minds of 18-21 years olds is shallow at best.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that referees are not announced prior to a game, presumably to keep potential fixers from contacting and pressuring them. If so, a coach wouldn't be able to integrate who would be the ref into his gameplan. Either way, players need to adapt to how a game is being called; if some knowledge of how a ref has called games in the past is available and useful, then use it.

Rob Lowe said...

I didn't collect this information; just the Free Throw Rates for each corresponding game. The referee information was collected by "Pardner" over at MUScoop.

I actually think that the results of the games that Driscoll has refereed is just an anomaly. I don't see anything pointing to a clear bias in favor of MU (which we probably should have made more evident).

However, I do think that the results of games where Greenwood is involved shows a pattern of a particular referee tendencies AND our team's failure to adjust.

Anyone looking at this post as a "gambling post" is trying to find something that isn't there.

Anonymous said...

Pardner here...my post at MU Scoop was driven by a Jay Bilas blog piece (see below), so back off the boys here who are doing a great job (a bettor already knows this). My belief is that officals are a living part of the game and a coach should adjust based upon tendencies. Proof of this is Bo who teaches this in his system and whose team fouls less (5-6 fouls per game) and who get more FT's. It happens that Greenwood and Hightower tend to call closer games (more fouls) which is not good for a team like MU whose pace is faster. The remainder of the BE officials are more balanced statistically (good for a team like MU). Driscoll is just a trivia fact--where he worked our five road wins. He calls a tight game too but balanced (good for MU). I do agree with Bilas, though--too much incosistency.

Jay Bilas:
"Few have been bigger allies to college basketball officials than I have, and rightfully so. By and large, officials do a good job. But the game has changed, and many officials have not. They work too many games and are unprepared for the games they work.

So far this season, I have seen too many games in which the officiating crew, overall, has not done a good job. I have said it before, and I will say it again: Officials need to watch tape of the teams they have in upcoming games in order to adequately prepare for what they will see. All coaches do it, and so do the better broadcasters. Officials should, too. The players are bigger and more athletic, and the coaches are more innovative and prepared than ever. The officials need to keep up. And don't tell me that they don't have time. When I travel, I take a computer with me and I watch tape of teams from all over the country. I often see officials on planes, and I have never seen one with a computer or watching anything in preparation for games. They do it in the pros, and they should do it in college. I have never done this before, but if I continue to see what I consider to be poor performances by officials, I will start naming names. The officials get paid, and the players and coaches who get called out by name when they perform poorly deserve the best the officials have."

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.