Sometime during the recent NCAA basketball tournament, a few of us had a twitter exchange about the women’s tournament and whether the success of UConn was good or bad for the game, not unlike other debates I saw during the time; most of those among far greater experts than me and my friends.
But I wondered specifically whether the women’s game had far less parity than the men’s game – absent the dominance of UConn. Here’s a few things I found after analyzing the full results from each tournament.
- Higher seeds won 67% of the games in the men’s tournament; in the women’s tournament it was 71% but if you exclude UConn it was 67%.
- The average margin of victory by the higher seeds in the men’s tournament was 14.3 points; in the women’s tournament it was 22.8 but excluding UConn it was 17.2.
- In the men’s tournament, there were 35 games where there were double digit spreads in the final margin of victory; in the women’s tournament, it was 43 but excluding UConn it was 37.
I don’t know if this year is representative of history or trends, I’m sure some studious person could do that for us. But it doesn’t seem drastically different. I did notice that there seemed to actually be less parity in the men’s tournament this year (less upsets, less close games), but again that is not based on statistics.
One thing I also checked the stats on was scoring. There have been calls to lower the rim in the women’s game to make it more exciting, for example. In the first round of the tournaments, the average men’s game had 145 points scored, the women scored 131 on average – that is 11% more scoring in the men’s first round which seems meaningful.
I am not sure if this analysis will change anyone’s mind. It still seems like the women’s game needs to find a way to make the game more exciting, and it is clear that teams need to work more at recruiting and coaching if they are going to catchup to UConn.