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More Than a Number: Minnesota's Offensive Rebounding Dominance

12/27/2012, 10:50am CST
By J.B. Bauer

Will the Gophers’ impressive work on the offensive glass continue in Big Ten play?

The beginning of the Big Ten season means more challenges for the nation's top offensive rebounding team.

Adreian Payne

Adreian Payne's (Michigan St.) massive wingspan is a reason he's one of the top defensive rebounders in the nation.

Minnesota has been the nation’s best offensive rebounding team so far in 2012-13. The Gophers are keeping possession of the ball after nearly half of their own misses and this dominance been a significant part of their offensive success.


Things will become far more difficult beginning New Year’s Eve against a good Michigan State team. Can the Gophers continue their dominance? recently looked at Minnesota’s strong offensive rebounding numbers during Tubby’s time in the Twin Cities and noted that the program’s strong work on the offensive glass has been a consistent theme every year.


However, the 49% offensive rebounding percentage (OR%) so far this season is incredibly high even for the Gophers. The best OR% in an NCAA season is generally in the range of 42-43%.


Based on the competition faced thus far, Minnesota should be doing very well on the offensive glass, but the level of dominance displayed is a great sign for the team.


Senior forwards Trevor Mbakwe (17.4 OR%) and Rodney Williams (12.1%) set the tone, but have been complemented by the efforts of lesser-used sophomore centers Maurice Walker (17.5%) Elliott Eliason (12.2%). In addition, head coach Tubby Smith has seen strong contributions from senior forward Andre Ingram (10.6%) and starting wings Joe Coleman (8.6%) and Austin Hollins (7.4%).


Although the current 49% OR% will decline in conference play, the front line led by an elite rebounder in Mbakwe should ensure that Minnesota is one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the Big Ten and the nation.


Nonetheless, maintaining a huge advantage won’t be easy and there are reasons why fans will want to keep a close eye on how well this team is rebounding their own missed shots.


Crazy Correlations

Of basketball’s four factors of basketball - field goal shooting, turnovers, rebounding and free throw rate – field goal shooting is the most important. (for a tiny annual fee) lists easily accessible correlations between the four factors and each team’s offensive and defensive efficiency.


A reasonable expectation is that a team’s effective field goal percentage (eFG%) will have the highest correlation to its offensive efficiency of the four factors. In reviewing each Big Ten team’s current season and each of the past five seasons, eFG% had the strongest correlation to offensive efficiency with one exception – the 2012-13 Minnesota Golden Gophers.

                          eFG%    TO         OR%      FTR

Correlation         +32       -52         +62        -38


Not only is Minnesota’s eFG% correlation incredibly low (+32 compared to an average in the last five seasons of 80+), but it’s lowest of all factors. Offensive rebounding (+62) has been the highest, followed by turnover rate (a negative correlation because more turnovers result in a lower offensive efficiency). Free throw rate has been an oddball, showing a negative correlation.


These correlations will change. Mediocre or poor field goal shooting performances will start to hurt this team, but the team’s shooting issues are a topic for another day.


What can be taken from this is that the incredible offensive rebounding of Minnesota is a very big reason why their KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency is 13th best in the nation.


No Mercy for the Weak

In six of the team’s 13 games this season the Gophers have posted an OR% of more than their season average. Looking at the top five OR% performances this year we can see they have come against opponents who are not good defensive rebounding teams.


It’s good that Minnesota is taking care of business, but this also raises the question of how will the team fare against stronger competition.


The table below shows the Gophers' top OR% performances and where the opponent ranks nationally in terms of their defensive rebounding.

                                          MN's       Opp's DR%
                                           OR%             Rank







North Florida






Florida St.




Big Ten Defensive Rebounding To Date

The Gophers open conference play with the Spartans on Monday. Tom Izzo’s team ranks #43 in defensive rebounding. While #43 sounds good, there are 6 Big Ten teams with better defensive rebounding percentages this year, including 3 in the top 15.


Clearly, there are challenges ahead.

J.B. Bauer

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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball