Has Gopher Basketball Been Unlucky?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

GoAUpher: While I failed to see and bump this immediately thanks to Job A things, the question mowe0018 raises is still an interesting one given yet another close loss. Though I suspect the pre/post Michigan answers to the question might differ for many people.

According to KenPom as of 1/9/2015, the Gophers are one of the least lucky teams in Division I basketball ranking 325th out of 351st in "Luck rating." While KenPom's own machinations are by no means perfect, it is an interesting explanation for the season thus far. Besides the Louisville loss, where the Gophers were obviously outmatched by an All-American and were still shaking off rust from a long off-season, and the game at Maryland against one of the Big Ten's top teams and a tough away venue, the other three losses were hard-fought contests.

St. John's

This game may be explained by "Luck rating" in that they literally played their worst span of basketball the last 7ish minutes of this game. They were in control for a majority of the game and fell apart. Obviously, credit is due to St. John's, who clamped down defensively and forced turnovers in the latter stages of the game, but sometimes those possessions are decided by a knife's edge. This is a good example of where KenPom's stat has a bit of validity. The final score claims that we lost by 9 but really this game was a back and forth affair decided in the waning moments.


A carbon copy of the St. John's game except that it was a true away game and the Gophers laid an egg over a longer period of time. In this case, it was about 10 minutes of poor basketball that allowed the game to escape their grasp at the end. Granted, a throw away three at the end by Nate Mason changed the final margin from 7 to 4, no one would argue this game came down to the wire and the Gophers were just unable to convert when absolutely necessary.

Ohio State

This game is the freshest in everyone's mind. Unlike the previous two games mentioned, this one was flipped, with the majority of the game being uninspiring basketball from the Gophers with a scramble at the end to make it a close game. However, unlike the two previous examples, the team who had "home court" didn't prevail despite relatively similar statistics up and down the box score. Ohio State made the plays when necessary and came out of the Barn with a win.


The main premise here is does a good team have an innate ability to win close games or does the fact that the Gophers currently rate as a pretty decent team (40th overall in KenPom) efficiency-wise mean they are due to win some close games in conference? They did pull out a win against Georgia in a close contested battle on a neutral court and they currently sit at 33rd in KenPom, so they certainly aren't some slouch squad.

It should be interesting going forward to see if the close games "balance-out" in favor of a 50-50 split. As it stands now, the Gopher would be "due" a close win or two. Or maybe KenPom is just full of it...

Any thoughts?

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