UConn falls to Baylor but holds on to top spot in UPS Team Performance Index
A six-point loss to Baylor wasn't quite enough to knock Connecticut out of the top spot in the UPS Team Performance Index.
A 60-point win went a long way toward erasing some of the damage.
UConn and Baylor remained 1-2 in the index this week despite the fact the Bears won last Monday night's head-to-head meeting 76-70 in a clash of women's basketball titans. The index numbers, however, are based on a season-long sample size - up to this point, 27 games for each team - so the tight game didn't jostle the standings.
Of course, it also helped that the Huskies proceeded to go out later in the week and triple-up Seton Hall in a 90-30 thrashing, getting out some of their frustration and offsetting any temporary statistical setbacks.
In conjunction with STATS LLC, UPS has created a proprietary algorithm that gauges six major statistics covering the spectrum of a team's on-court performance: effective field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage against, rebounding percentage, ball-handling efficiency, miscues and winning percentage.
From there, the data is normalized and an overall index is created for all 341 NCAA Division I teams. The scores are not meant to reflect a traditional power poll, per se, but measure a broad range of inside-the-lines excellence and overall balance.
For all the intrigue a regular-season Baylor-UConn game brought to the table, both coaches realized this was just an appetizer to a potential April entree, when the schools will have their eyes on a much bigger prize: Another NCAA title.
"Playing a game like this with a month before the NCAA tournament, I can't think of anything better to do at this point of the season," Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said. "Absolutely it's going to help. There's no way it can't help you."
Looking at the numbers, Connecticut doesn't need much of it. For the season, it continues to dominate, particularly offensively. The Lady Bears are the only D-I team shooting over 50 percent from the field at 50.1 - UConn is second at 49.7 - but when adjusted for 3-point efficiency, the Huskies' effective field-goal percentage increases to 56.7 percent.
Connecticut has made 149 more 3s than Baylor and is shooting them at a higher percentage, resulting in an effective field-goal percentage that's four points higher.
Cumulative numbers aside, though, it was the Lady Bears who came away with the victory and who will head into March armed with a little more confidence that they can step up to a major test when it presents itself.
"It's always good to give yourself a gauge of what you need to work on," coach Kim Mulkey said. "I told them at halftime, it's been a long time since we've had to execute on offense. We're so athletic and so good and so talented, we just go play basketball. But against good teams who play great defensively, you must execute."
At No. 297 in the index, neither characterization would apply to Seton Hall. That certainly helped UConn as it shot over 50 percent from the field and 3-point range while holding the Pirates to 20.0 percent shooting in moving past Monday's loss.
The top nine teams in the index remained the same although there was some toggling between Nos. 5 and 9. Notre Dame and Duke stayed entrenched in the 3 and 4 slots, followed by Stanford, Green Bay, Dayton, Maryland and Albany.
Last week's No. 10 team, Syracuse, fell back to 15 after a loss to South Florida. It was replaced by another in what's become a sizable list of schools from traditionally smaller-profile leagues toward the top of the index: Princeton of the Ivies. The Tigers (18-5) set a league record with their 33rd consecutive win last weekend against Cornell that saw their senior class improve to 50-1 in Ivy play.
"We have depth," coach Courtney Banghart said. "Our motto is strength and streak, and that means that we're not a one-man band, we're not a two-man band, we're not a three-man band. We're a full roster and we've shown that I think over our season so far and we know that's key to our success because we've got lots of different pieces."
Among the top 100 big movers this week were Cal Poly, which jumped 23 spots to No. 86, and Utah, which moved up 22 spots to 88. On the flip side, Detroit fell 26 spots to No. 99 and Michigan dropped 20 places to 61.
North Carolina Central, which dropped two games last week to fall to 1-25, trails the index at No. 341.
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