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Xavier’s covid pause makes their visit to Butler a statistical toss-up

Math suggests it will be a nail-biter at the barn today.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Butler
Ugh, whatever.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

One of the great things about basketball twitter is that, if you’re curious about something, someone else has probably already asked and maybe even answered the same question. To wit: I was wondering what the stats say about teams coming off of a long layoff due to the ol’ ‘rona. Well, so was Evan Miyakawa, who I’ll forgive for being a Butler fan because he has a cool website. Here’s what he came up with:

Hm. Xavier will have been off for 20 days when the ball goes up for this one, so I’m comfortable calling it a two-point hamstringing for the Muskies. A quick check of KenPom.com shows that Mr. Pomeroy’s algorithm indicates that Xavier is a two-point favorite against the Bulldogs today. That doesn’t factor in the rust from the layoff, so... coin toss game.

For what it’s worth, reviewing our other favorite source for tempo-free information - barttorvik.com - shows Xavier as a four-point favorite. Do with that what you will.

It’s worth noting that Miyakawa’s adjustment numbers stipulate a normal-tempo game, which is not what you’d expect when you take on Butler’s molasses pace. Maybe in a truncated game, Xavier doesn’t suffer as much, or maybe they suffer more because of fewer possessions to shake off the rust.

On the other hand, Xavier was coming off of a very long layoff when they took on Oakland in the season opener, and that turned out pretty well. We won’t know what to expect until the ball goes up, but know that the numbers indicate the Muskies will have to fight to find their best form today.