Tennessee-Auburn four-factors preview: All about shooting percentage?

Tennessee-Auburn four-factors preview: All about shooting percentage?

No. 4 Tennessee (NET Rankings) travels to Auburn to take on the No. 19 Tigers tomorrow at noon on ESPN. It’s another opportunity for the Vols to get one of those all-important Quadrant 1 wins.

Here’s a look at the teams’ respective four factors numbers. Spoiler: Every category but one looks even when you put offense versus defense, but Tennessee appears to have an advantage on both ends of the floor in shooting percentage. They need to make sure they outshoot Auburn and keep everything else close to a tie.

Four Factors: Straight-Up

Effective FG%

  • Tennessee 55.4 (No. 22) (down from 55.6 (No. 16))
  • Auburn 53.9 (No. 51)

Prior opponents:

  • Mississippi State 54.6 (No. 36)
  • Kentucky 53.6 (No. 59)
  • Ole Miss 53.5 (No. 64)
  • LSU: 52.7 (No. 93)
  • Vanderbilt: 50.3 (No. 198)
  • Kentucky: 52.8 (No. 93)

Conclusions: Tennessee’s recent focus on defense has had some marginal negative impact on its offensive effective field goal percentage, but it’s still really, really good. Auburn, meanwhile, is not much different from Tennessee’s last three opponents in this category, meaning they’re not as good as the Vols, but they are still good.

Turnover %

  • Tennessee 15.8 (No. 23) (down from 15.6 (No. 20))
  • Auburn 18.3 (No. 151)

Prior opponents:

  • Mississippi State 19.1 (No. 220)
  • Kentucky 18.7 (No. 185)
  • Ole Miss 18.7 (No. 172)
  • LSU 19.0 (No. 196)
  • Vanderbilt: 19.9 (No. 255)
  • Kentucky: 18.5 (No. 158)

Conclusions: Different game, same story. Tennessee protects the ball, and its opponent does not.

Offensive Rebound %

  • Tennessee 31.2 (No. 90) (up from 30.9 (No. 94))
  • Auburn 33.5 (No. 39)

Prior opponents:

  • Mississippi State 34.6 (No. 23)
  • Kentucky 37.9 (No. 4)
  • Ole Miss 31.9 (No. 64)
  • LSU 37.4 (No. 6)
  • Vanderbilt: 28.6 (No. 178)
  • Kentucky: 38.3 (No. 3)

Conclusions: Tennessee is trending in the right direction in OR%, but it’s still not up to the level of its recent competition. Auburn is good at this, but not as good as either Kentucky or LSU. They’re essentially right in between Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

Free Throw Rate

  • Tennessee 33.9 (No. 159) (down from 34.1 (No. 155))
  • Auburn 30.9 (No. 245)

Prior opponents:

  • Mississippi State 33.0 (No. 188)
  • Kentucky 42.2 (No. 14)
  • Ole Miss 32.8 (No. 200)
  • LSU 39.8 (No. 29)
  • Vanderbilt: 44.8 (No. 7)
  • Kentucky: 41 (No. 22)

Conclusions: Good news. Auburn is allergic to the free throw line. They’re worse at getting there than any of the Vols’ last five opponents.

Those are the straight-up comparisons of the teams’ respective averages in the four factors, but what about the fact that those numbers are impacted in any given game by the opponent?

Four Factors: Opponent impact

Effective FG%

When Tennessee has the ball

Tennessee’s EFG% is 55.4 (No. 22), while Auburn’s defense against that is 50.8 (No. 174).

When Auburn has the ball

The Tigers’ shooting offense is 53.9 (No. 51), while Tennessee’s shooting defense is 46.3 (No. 22).

Conclusions

Auburn’s defense shouldn’t be much of an impediment to Tennessee’s effective field goal percentage, so it will basically just be up to the Vols’ players to get good shots and then hit them. Expect the Vols to shoot well. On the other side of the ball, Auburn’s no slouch in this category, but Tennessee’s defense is equipped to make things more difficult for them than usual.

Turnover %

When Tennessee has the ball

Tennessee’s turnover % is 15.8 (No. 23), which is really, really good. But Auburn is the best team in the nation at forcing turnovers (25.3, No. 1).

When Auburn has the ball

Auburn’s turnover % is not especially good at 18.3 (No. 151), but neither is Tennessee’s turnover defense, which is 18.9 (No. 153).

Conclusions

This is strength-on-strength when Tennessee has the ball and weakness-on-weakness when Auburn has it. Expect the Vols to have a few more turnovers than usual (11.2 average) and Auburn to have about their average of 12.8.

Offensive Rebounding %

When Tennessee has the ball

Tennessee’s OR% is 31.2 (No. 90), while Auburn’s defense in that category is 32.9 (No. 331). This is the biggest advantage for the Vols on offense.

When Auburn has the ball

The Tigers’ OR% is 33.5 (No. 39), while the Vols’ defense in that category is 30.0 (No. 256). And again, this is the biggest advantage of the game for Tennessee’s opponent tomorrow.

Conclusions

Tennessee should have its way on the offensive board tomorrow, but Auburn should do the same on its own end. Tennessee averages 10.10 o-rebounds per game while Auburn averages 12.53. Expect both to get more.

Free Throw Rate

When Tennessee has the ball

Tennessee’s FT Rate is 33.9 (No. 159), while Auburn’s defense against that is 37.7 (No. 286).

When Auburn has the ball

The Tigers’ FT Rate is 30.9 (No. 245), while Tennessee’s defense against that is 34.3 (No. 220).

Conclusions

To me, this looks like we should expect Tennessee to earn a few more trips to the free throw line than usual (20.4) and Auburn to get somewhere around its average of 19.3. Probably not a deciding factor.

Summary and Score Prediction

The numbers suggest that these two teams are close enough to equal in turnovers, offensive rebounding, and free throw attempts to call this an even matchup. If either team tips the scales on any of those three categories, it could decide the game.

Tennessee does seem to have a real advantage in effective field goal percentage, though. The Vols are marginally better shooting the ball than Auburn, plus the Vols’ defense should present more of a problem to Auburn’s offense than vice versa. I expect the Vols to outshoot the Tigers. If they do that and also maintain equilibrium in the other categories, they should come away with the victory. But the game is close enough on paper that if they don’t do both of those things, Auburn will likely win.

The goals for the Vols:

  1. Keep the game even in turnovers, offensive rebounding, and free throw rate.
  2. Outshoot the Tigers.

KenPom gives Tennessee a 54% chance of winning this one and puts the score at Tennessee 76, Auburn 75.

Go Vols.

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Gavin Driskill
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Gavin Driskill

The 3 point shot is a great equalizer.

My fear here is not unlike the way the Ole Miss game played out…Tennessee kinda dominated in every stat, but was -18 at the 3 point line and needed an unlikely finish to win the game.