Referee Comparison by School

Earlier I looked at how the ACC referees called ACC compared to other conferences. Now I would like to look at how the referees call games within the conference. I compiled some statistics that I would like to share. Here is my attempt at a chart to make it easier to see.

A few things I noticed:
1) UNC is called for fewer fouls than any other team (something we are all aware of) but more importantly look at the number of fouls called per possession. UNC is only called for a foul every 5 trips down the court. Everyone else in the ACC is called at least once for every 4 possessions. That is some really good coaching by Roy.
2) There are two schools who lead the ACC in fouls committed by their opponent, Duke and UNC.
3) 34.3% of Duke’s shots are three point shots, the most in the ACC.
4) The only other two schools to shot over 30% of their shots from three are BC and Miami. Both teams draw 4 or more fewer fouls per game than Duke and are at the bottom of the fouls drawn category.
5) UNC shoots the fewest three point shorts per game and is second in the number of fouls they draw from their opponents.
6) NCSU is second in fewest three point shots but is 8th in number of fouls by opponent.
7) Wake is near the top in the fouls committed by opponent category.

1) The head of the ACC referees’ self fulfilling prophecy that UNC does not commit fouls was, well, self fulfilling.
2) Duke is the only team in the conference who can continuously hoist threes and still draw fouls.
3) NCSU does not get many foul calls for it even though their offense is based on 2 point shots while UNC can.

Someone requested a comparison of FTs. Here are the FTs for ACC games only.

FTR is free throw rate which is FTA/FGA
A few things I notices from this chart:
1) UNC is plus 5.1 points per game from the FT line. Duke is +3 and NCSU is +1.5
2) UNC’s opponent FTR is almost half of FSU
3) The only other team with a positive FT point is Wake Forest. Go figure.

About Rick

1992 and 2002 graduate from NCSU. Born and raised an NCSU fan. I remember the good ol' days and they weren't in the last 20 years.

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54 Responses to Referee Comparison by School

  1. hammerpack 03/14/2012 at 9:27 AM #

    Great technical analysis…surprised it wasn’t even more biased.

    But when the ACC office goes public with a statement like “…UNC doesn’t foul as much…” what can we expect?

    To me, watching the FSU-UNX game, it almost appeared the league office warned the refs to NOT make any foul calls on FSU…they really let them play in the final minutes.

  2. hammerpack 03/14/2012 at 9:29 AM #

    Also, I’d love to see a similar chart for the other major conferences.

  3. Khan 03/14/2012 at 9:32 AM #

    Good analysis, Rick.

    One thing that has really seems to really stick out to me this year is the number of fouls called on 3 point shots. Maybe, it’s just that I’m paying more attention, or maybe there actually are more fouls called on the 3. But the thing I’ve noticed is that in a lot of those “fouls”, the defender barely makes contact with the shooter’s hand (if at all) AFTER the ball is already in the air.

    That happens in our favor a lot too. A mugging or legitimate contact is one thing. But a finger tip to finger tip graze, after a shot is away should not be called. That happens a lot in Duke games. Plus, there’s an awful lot of flopping as if the defender jacked the shooter into the stands.

    In general, there seems to be more fouls call than should be. If a defender making light contact with the offensive player does not disrupt the offensive player from making a play or running the offense, I don’t think a foul should be called. The defensive player shouldn’t be allowed to impede the offensive player by making contact, but these ticky-tack touch fouls away from the basket are ridiculous and ruin the momentum and continuity of the game.

  4. projectwentynine 03/14/2012 at 9:51 AM #

    …there’s an awful lot of flopping as if the defender jacked the shooter into the stands.

    Agreed. Between this and the absurd amount of dramatic, exaggerated flops on defense, Duke’s style of play has become as ridiculous as that of a modern day World Cup soccer team. Thespians.

  5. primacyone 03/14/2012 at 10:02 AM #

    “…Great technical analysis…surprised it wasn’t even more biased….”

    The ref’s have that one figured out as well. They can make the total number of calls look even.

    Just like the Duke game this year. They hit Duke up with several off the ball/non impact on the game fouls to increase the number of fouls on Duke. It’s not just the total number of fouls it’s the time and the place and effect on the game.

  6. wilmwolf80 03/14/2012 at 10:06 AM #

    Solid statistics there. Really though, the truth about the disparity in officiating really can’t be expressed in numbers. The videos from the tourney game with UNCCH do a great job showing how similar plays are called differently at either end of the court. Also, the impact on the game of the officiating is difficult to illustrate with numbers, because it’s not just about how many fouls, it is about on whom they are called (or not called), when, and where they are called. I don’t know if it is possible, but perhaps a statistical analysis involving only the best two or three players from each team would be even further telling. I do think we can learn something from FSU, and that is this: this league is never going to give us respect, if we want it, we are going to have to take it.

  7. NCStatePride 03/14/2012 at 10:08 AM #

    “… That can make the total number of calls look even. …”

    And that is a crucial part of the puzzle. I’ve gotten real pumped-up about people within our own fan base calling some of us ‘conspiracy theorists that make the entire program look bad’ and that total foul count is one of the key stats that they love to use. Total fouls don’t tell you on what play the foul occured, whether it was around the basket or in transition, nor does it tell you the context of how efficient a team was playing before and after the whistles.

  8. Rick 03/14/2012 at 10:20 AM #

    I agree Pride but even the foul counts do tell you a lot.

    But here is the rub, Duke fouls like crazy. They hand check and bump and ride the players. If they were called for all of the fouls they really committed they would all foul out.

  9. NCStatePride 03/14/2012 at 10:25 AM #

    On the season, I agree. If you get enough data points you can start to see the trends which is what you have here in this write up (great job, BTW). I guess I was more talking about during any given contest between Team A and Team B, if Team A only gets 2 for fouls called in their favor, it’s easy for someone to claim Team B doesn’t have an axe to grind because “they two teams were called almost even”.

    On that note, I want to look at how many points (average) each team benefitted from at the line. I think there’s a valuable point to be made if you see that one or two teams are earning significantly more points at the line. At that point you can always get into the “garbage time” argument, but it’s still one more stat that tells the story.

  10. Rick 03/14/2012 at 10:36 AM #

    HMMM I can look at that.

  11. projectwentynine 03/14/2012 at 10:39 AM #

    Yeah, they are definitely conscious of the need to make total fouls close in order to give the illusion of an evenly called game to the casual observer. This was illustrated well in the Duke game (State: 24, Duke: 21). The art is in the timing of the calls (affects momentum, many calls are made in garbage time when the outcome of the game is already determined to add the appearance of balance…), how integral the player is who is called for the fouls (State’s starters had 18 fouls while Duke’s had 10), the distribution of fouls amongst integral players resulting in them being DQ’d or putting them at risk of being DQ’d and therefore affecting their playing time and aggressiveness (State had 3 starters foul out and 1 with 3 fouls while Duke had only 1 starter with 4 fouls, the rest had 2 or less), number of free throws attempted (State: 24, Duke: 28)… Then there is the whole issue of no-calls…

  12. 4PackinMB 03/14/2012 at 10:50 AM #

    Pride, Absolutely agree!! I did not watch the finals Sunday, I refused to do that….however, I did check the box score and one thing stood out. First of all, I do not recall the number of fouls called on each, however, FSU went to the line 12 times, making 8, unx went 24 times (TWICE AS MANY, with approximately the same number of fouls called!!) and made 21. Of course if you get to the line, you should convert, that isn’t the issue. unx had twice the attempts.

  13. HAve2650 03/14/2012 at 10:55 AM #

    I agree, good anaylsis but I don’t think it really tells you a whole lot. Duke and Carolina are up a lot and will get a lot of fouls at end of game situations.

    The one thing that became obvious, as other have pointed out, is that the refs will call meaningless fouls against the blues to offset important ones against us. For example, a touch foul against the blues at the top of the key where we just go imbound it again then a tick tack foul against the Pack (probably someone in foul trouble) when they miss a jumper so they get their free throws. Happens all the time. Watch for it.

    ESPN needs their ratings so they had to ensure a blue in the ACC Championship, right??? Who cares about integrity anymore…apparently someone on top of the ACC is compromised.

  14. Rick 03/14/2012 at 10:59 AM #

    I updated the article with FT information

  15. Ashman87 03/14/2012 at 11:06 AM #

    Keep up the good work Rick. That was amazing.

  16. NCStatePride 03/14/2012 at 11:21 AM #

    ^That’s what she said.

    Awesome, thanks Rick! IMHO, that tells a huge part of the story as well as foul counts. When people say “the refs aren’t responsible for your loss”, I always take issue with that simply because if a team is averaging an extra 5PPG more than their opponent on any given night due to the whistles, I feel like that can be pretty dramatic. A couple points I get, but 5?

  17. notreallyafan 03/14/2012 at 11:25 AM #

    Just read this on WRAL and frankly I agree:

    markthomas24: WOW @joeovies: I’m not going to go as far as @DavidGlennShow and call you a bunch of losers, but State folks need to move on. Y’all move on

  18. GAWolf 03/14/2012 at 11:39 AM #

    Stats on fouls against NC State in the first ten (10) minutes of the second half when winning at the half would break your calculator-statistics-machine-thing. Don’t do it.

  19. Hawkeye Whitney 03/14/2012 at 11:47 AM #

    Great analysis. I understood the conference vs. conference numbers that you gave us in a previous post, but I am still scratching my head trying to figure how members of the same large pool of refs change how they call a game based upon what conference the teams happen to be in. THIS I understand completely, and it just confirms what we all know. I don’t think it is a conspiracy, and I bet the refs don’t even realize that they are doing it. Self-fulfilling prophecies work at the subconscious level, and when an official enters a game thinking that the blues’ talent level is so high and they are so well coached that they simply don’t foul as much, then it is no surprise that their whistles follow suit.

  20. Tau837 03/14/2012 at 11:53 AM #

    “number of fouls called per possession”

    Does this combine offensive and defensive possessions?

  21. 4PackinMB 03/14/2012 at 12:27 PM #

    Regarding the joeovies tweet….. sounds like we may have hit a nerve….keep prodding!! Reform doesn’t happen for those that move on.

  22. Rick 03/14/2012 at 12:36 PM #

    “I am still scratching my head trying to figure how members of the same large pool of refs change how they call a game based upon what conference the teams happen to be in.”

    IMO it is by league direction. The league wants the games called a certain way. There is no other explanation that makes sense to me.

  23. Rick 03/14/2012 at 12:37 PM #

    “Does this combine offensive and defensive possessions?”


  24. Alpha Wolf 03/14/2012 at 12:39 PM #

    Duke’s style of play has become as ridiculous as that of a modern day World Cup soccer team.

    Except that pretty much flopping is disappearing in international soccer. Players can and do get yellow cards (two of which is disqualification with no replacement allowed) for flopping and you will see that or no calls much more than 10-15 years ago when the Italians made an art of it.

  25. ryebread 03/14/2012 at 12:40 PM #

    Very nice. One thing that would be extremely telling would be percentage of fouls against the starters.

    I initially was going to say something like “% of fouls against impact players” or “% of fouls against minutes played” (easily definable by One could argue though that fouls impact one’s ability to be an impact player or to log a lot of minutes.

    With the starter number though, one has to assume that the coach is starting the best five players on the team. Yes, there are occasionally exceptions with a really good sixth man, but I think that is seen more in the NBA than in college. College is more about getting your best 5 as many minutes as possible.

    The reason that I suggest this is based on some anomalies that I’ve picked up over the years by looking at box scores of UNC. Yes, there’s make up calls to make the foul discrepancy tighter, but they’re ALWAYS on the stiffs who come off the bench. As shocked as I was that Zeller fouled out in the ACC tournament game, I was equally unsurprised to see that the only other people who had 3 or more fouls were bench players.

    I’ve seen some of the same thing out of Duke. A kid like their current PG (who I don’t even know his name) will have four, but Rivers and Curry will end the game with maybe 2. When’s the last time a critical Duke player has EVER fouled out with 8 minutes left to go?

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