Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fouls and Carolina. Are the refs biased?

The UNC/Tech game got me thinking.  What makes logical sense about free throws and fouls, since this would seem the easiest way for officials to have an impact on games?

We have long heard that home teams typically get more calls.  Is that true?  I am sure we can google some decent studies on that, but, my mostly unscientific study here reveals one thing - winning teams get more calls, and that is logical.

The losing team is more apt to be physically inferior, and, therefore need to foul more to hang with the physically better team.  The losing team generally is trailing at the end of games, and needs to foul to put the other team on the line.  Those two factors probably account for the advantage winning teams usually have in free throw attempts and in personal fouls.

So, let's look at a few of UNC's games, and see what we can tell.  In all of UNC's wins that I charted, UNC had more free throws and less personal fouls than their opponents (except versus Virginia Tech, where PF's were equal at 19).  Given the competition in those wins, this is not surprising.  But, let's look at the disparity in FT attempts (all in favor of the Heels) just versus decent programs:

  • VT: 22-18
  • Rutgers: 35-9
  • Mich State: 30-16
  • Ohio State: 25-22
In those 4 games, opponents committed 22 more PF's than UNC.  Yeah, right.

Now, let's look at UNC's losses FTA's (UNC first):
  • GT: 24-15
  • Clemson: 10-20 (UNC was shellacked, so they were obviously playing from behind)
  • College of Charleston: 34-6
  • Texas: 19-34 (another shellacking)
  • UK: 13-22 (since UK had a 19 point lead at one point, UNC was clearly coming from behind)
  • Syracuse: 26-10
So, does UNC get the benefit of the doubt?  I think it's too early to tell, but those GT, CoC and Syracuse numbers really jump out.  In those three games, the opponents had 18 more personal fouls.  Come on.  Do you mean to tell me College of Charleston, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech are that much more foul prone?

I am not buying it either.  Let's return to this subject after Carolina has some ACC games under their belt and we can look at Duke, too.

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