Rush the Court ReduxPosted: March 1, 2013
Already this week, we’ve seen Minnesota, Penn State, Southern California, and Virginia take to the floor. This year, we’ve seen students with a combined 9 National Championships and 39 Final Fours disgrace themselves like no traditional power ever would. Just how bad is this current court rushing epidemic that we’re suffering?
It’s no secret that I have no problem with rushing the court. So I had a little bit of fun and put together a (hopefully) comprehensive list of court rushes for the 2012-2013 season. It’s a list that I plan to expand to cover past seasons in hopes of starting a database of historic court rushes. And I had a little bit more fun and compiled a (far less) comprehensive list of court rushes for the 1994-1995 season just to show that students felt emotions even back when Brad Stevens was still in high school.
Our Current Epidemic…Isn’t That Bad
I started with a list of every game so far this season (thanks Ken Pomeroy for the handy .txt file!) and used a little bit of Excel wizardry to add AP Poll rankings (thanks Basketball-Reference for the handy .csv file!). From there, I coded every game with a few additional criteria:
- Neutral: Was the game played on a neutral court? We don’t see neutral courts stormed too often (although it occasionally happens) so I needed a quick way to filter these games out.
- HomeWin: Did the home team actually win the game? I don’t think we’ve ever seen a court stormed by the away teams’ fans.
- 1Possession: Was the difference in the final score less than 4? Usually, close games are exciting games. And you can’t get much closer than being a shot away from winning. (Note: there are lots of possessions worth more than 3 points. But I ignored those because they’re relatively rare.)
- IsSEC: Was the home team an SEC team? The SEC is the only conference that penalizes schools for rushing the court (although it occasionally still happens) so I needed a quick way to filter these games out too.
From there, it was mostly grunt work. I filtered first to non-SEC, non-neutral games where an unranked home team won over a ranked away team because I figured these were my most likely court rushing candidates (there were 59 games. 26 ended with a rushed court). After that, it was just a lot of Google searching. Plus some additional fiddling with the filters (overtime games, close games, lower ranked teams beating higher ranked teams, etc.) and some guesswork and memory to fill in the rest. That’s why I call it a (hopefully) comprehensive list.
You can see the full spreadsheet here. I’ll do my best to update it each week as new games are played.
As it turns out, our current epidemic isn’t actually that bad. There have been 32 court rushes in 5042 games so far this season. That’s 0.62%.
Of course, that’s not a very interesting numbers. So let’s pull out the highly unlikely court rushes (Neutral = FALSE, HomeWin = TRUE, IsSEC = FALSE).
Now we’re looking at 32 court rushes in 3045 games. 1.03%. Still hardly an epidemic.
Here are some other (mildy) interesting fractions:
- 43.10% (25/58) of unranked upsets over ranked teams (non-SEC, non-neutral, yadda, yadda, yadda) ended in a court rush.
- 6.15% (4/65) of one possession games that end in overtime (non-SEC, non-neutral, yadda, yadda, yadda)
- 25.93% (7/27) of the teams who rushed have at least one National Championship.
- 59.26% (16/27) of the teams who rushed have at least one Final Four appearance.
- 42.86% (3/7) of the teams who have at least one National Championship have rushed more than once.
And some other interesting tidbits:
- Duke has been rushed against the most.
- Butler, Colorado, Miami, NC State, and Oregon have all rushed and been rushed against.
Our Current Epidemic…Isn’t That New
This research was a little bit uglier because I didn’t plan as far ahead. Initially, I was just curious about some less recent court rushes, so I did a little bit of web searching. I somehow ended up on George Washington’s upset of #1 UMass in 1995 and from there, I just started guessing some other 1994-1995 celebrations. Instead of starting from every game of the season and working my way down, I started from “big” games and worked my way up.
I flipped through each week of the AP Poll (thanks College Poll Archive for making this easy!) and wrote down the Top 10 teams from that week. Then I found the away games that each team lost while ranked in the Top 10 (this wasn’t so easy. I had to use a variety of sources. StatSheet, Basketball-Reference, media guides, individual team fanpages, etc.) From there, it was just a painful process of searching through Google News archives.
So this list is admittedly much less comprehensive than the 2012-2013 one.
I don’t have a fancy spreadsheet for this data (although I’ll hopefully get far enough back with my first spreadsheet that it will eventually catch up to 1994-1995). Instead, I just have a list:
- 12/27/1994: #3 Kansas @ Indiana: No documented rush
- 1/1/1995: #5 Kentucky @ Louisville: No documented rush
- 1/4/1995: #3 Arkansas @ Ole Miss: No documented rush
- 1/4/1995: #1 North Carolina @ NC State: Documented rush
- 1/5/1995: #2 UCLA @ Oregon: Documented rush
- 1/14/1995: #5 Arkansas @ Auburn: Documented rush
- 2/4/1995: #8 Arkansas @ Mississippi State: No documented rush
- 2/4/1995: #1 UMass @ George Washington: Documented rush
- 2/7/1995: #1 North Carolina @ Maryland: Documented rush
- 2/17/1995: #9 Missouri @ Oklahoma: No documented rush
- 2/23/1995: #5 UMass @ Temple: Documented rush
- 2/27/1995: #4 UConn @ Providence: Documented rush
- 3/8/1995: #9 Michigan State @ Iowa: Documented rush
Don’t forget that there are certainly court rushes from 1994-1995 that fall outside of my narrowly defined criteria. For instance, #11 Villanova @ Providence.
61.54% (8/13) of unranked upsets over Top 10 teams (non-neutral. I was able to drop the SEC filter because the rule didn’t exist yet) ended in a rushed court. 73.91% (17/23) drawn with the same parameters did today. That jumps up to 89.47% (17/19) if you drop out the SEC. On the flip side,if the rule had existed 20 years ago, the 1994-1995 number would jump up to 70.00% (7/10).
Either way, the numbers are small enough that they likely fall within the expected margin of error. If there has been a true uptick in the propensity to rush the court over the past 20 years, it’s pretty minor.