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The Four Factors Perspective: The Kentucky Game


The Four Factors are what statistician Dean Oliver says are the most important determinants of a basketball team's success (in a general sense, they seem pretty obvious, even if the exact measurements he uses aren't). As you can see in the chart above, the Hogs won only one of the factors (free-throw rate) and tied the Wildcats in another (turnover percentage). Nevertheless, they won the most important stat of all: they scored more points than Kentucky. I'll take it. A full explanation of the factors is after the jump.

The Four Factors are:

Shooting the ball well, which Oliver measures by effective field-goal percentage (eFG%). eFG% is basically a team's field-goal percentage, except that it gives 50 percent more credit for successful three-point attempts. The formula is (half the number of made three pointers + total made field goals) / field-goal attempts.

Taking care of the ball, which Oliver assesses by a team's turnover percentage (TO%). TO% is the number of turnovers/number of possessions.

Offensive rebounding, which of course leads to more second-chance shots. Oliver measures this by calculating offensive rebounding percentage (OR%). OR% = offensive rebounds / (offensive rebounds + opponent defensive rebounds).

Getting to the free-throw line, which Oliver assesses by free-throw rate (FT rate). According to Oliver, teams that get to the line more often are more effective than teams that simply make a higher percentage of their free throws. FT rate = free throws attempted / field goals attempted.

As you can see in the graph above, the Hogs won two of the four factors. (Arkansas fans would undoubtedly argue that the Razorbacks also won the less-known fifth factor: the one known as "getting royally screwed by the refs.")