At this point, you probably have no clue what the hell I'm talking about with these tempo-free lacrosse statistics. Sure, I touched upon it a little bit, but your eyes are likely crossed, wondering what the hell all these values with decimal points mean in relation to performance on the field.
Rather than providing a dissertation on the theoretical underpinnings of tempo-free stats (it's truly mind-numbing and boring), let's work with this premise: Per game statistics have a lot of noise; tempo-free statistics try to eliminate this by parsing out identifiable pieces to reflect actual performance on a possession-basis.
In other words, you can look at a building and say, "That's a fine looking building!"; or, alternatively, you can watch a contractor construct a building and have a greater understanding of why the building is fine looking. Tempo-free statistics is the contractor-ogling methodology.
The easiest way to show the disparity between per-game statistics and tempo-free statistics is through rank variance. Each has a specific purpose: To compare teams as to a specific metric. The difference, however, is that tempo-free statistics give us a better understanding of how teams are performing on a possession-to-possession basis, eliminating all that "noise" associated with per-game values (i.e., the per-game doesn't tell us how a team got to its per-game mark, only that it happened).
Let's look at three per-game metrics -- Scoring Offense Per-Game, Scoring Defense Per-Game, and Scoring Margin Per-Game -- and compare it to three tempo-free metrics -- Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (goals-for per 100 possessions, adjusted for competition), Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (goals-against per 100 possessions, adjusted for competition), and Adjusted Efficiency Margin (the difference between adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency).
From this, we'll pick three teams with the greatest rank variances -- both as an overstated tempo-included value and an understated tempo-included value.
RANK VARIANCE: SCORING OFFENSE V. ADJUSTED OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
|TEAM||PER-GAME RANK||ADJ. OE RANK||VARIANCE|
QUICK POINT II: Sacred Heart and VMI's variances are due in large part to the efficiency adjustment each is receiving for strength of schedule (each team's strength of schedule (opponent defenses) is around 50th in the country). Dartmouth, however, is seeing a large variance even when considering raw offensive efficiency (raw is simply unadjusted offensive efficiency). There's a 19-position difference between the raw rank and Dartmouth's per-game rank. The Big Green, I think, aren't as good offensively as we're lead to believe (Hello, Mercer and Holy Cross games!). This is something that will need to be monitored as the Ivy League season heats up.
RANK VARIANCE: SCORING DEFENSE V. ADJUSTED DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
|TEAM||PER-GAME RANK||ADJ. DE RANK||VARIANCE|
QUICK POINT II: Nobody in the country has faced more potent offenses than Syracuse this year. Importantly, the Orange is also playing about 35 defensive possessions per game, 35th-most nationally. This Orange defense is legit and getting it done, regardless of what an NCAA per-game ranking says.
RANK VARIANCE: SCORING MARGIN V. EFFICIENCY MARGIN
|TEAM||PER-GAME RANK||ADJ. MARGIN RANK||VARIANCE|