Iowa Basketball: Hawkeyes have been unlucky according to KenPom

Through 20 games, Iowa basketball has been statistically unlucky according to KenPom’s rating system. Are the Hawkeyes better than their record suggests?

The Iowa basketball team has tallied a 14-6 record through 20 games this season, but their expected record is actually higher. At least, that’s what Ken Pomeroy’s analytics say.

According to KenPom, which is an analytics-based website based on pace of play metrics, the Hawkeyes have been one of college basketball’s unluckiest teams this season.

Iowa has a luck rating of -0.007, which ranks 303rd out of 357 Division I teams.

Luck rating is defined as “the deviation in winning percentage between a team’s actual record and their expected record”.

Luck rating is determined by utilizing the correlated gaussian method, which factors in winning percentage, points scored, points allowed, the standard deviations of points scored and points allowed, and the correlation between points scored and points allowed.

In layman’s terms, the Hawkeyes are statistically better than their record shows, even if the eye test says otherwise in recent weeks.

Iowa has lost three of their last five games, but still ranks highly in KenPom’s overall ratings. The Hawkeyes are ranked fifth overall, which is largely due to their luck rating. Pomery explicitly states that a “lucky” team will almost always be rated lower than their record would suggest.

In terms of credibility, Pomeroy is a noted mathematician, and his ratings are actually used by several D1 teams as an added layer of scouting. On his website, he states the ratings should be used to demonstrate “how strong a team would be if it played tonight, independent of injuries or emotional factors”.

The Hawkeyes have six regular season games remaining, including pivotal matchups against No. 21 Wisconsin (x2), No. 4 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan. Iowa returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 13 against Michigan State.