What causes a team’s luck, or lack thereof?

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Ask an Illinois fan about luck. After they get done cussing, they’ll probably bemoan a few bad calls during a recent game, or a few shots that didn’t fall or that the other team was on the free-throw line a lot.

But they wouldn’t know why all of those played into bad luck. They’d just know.

(Not to pick on Illinois fans. It’s just that the Illini are usually rated as an unlucky team in kenpom.com’s ratings.)

However, David Hess may have an answer or two.

He addresses luck and the tempo-free stats that correlate heavily toward that luck at his blog, Audacity of Hoops. The biggies? Free-throw rate (offensive), block percentage (offensive) and adjusted tempo. That’s just for this season, so he advises against reading too much into the stats, but his main conclusion centers around what happens late in games, particularly at the free-throw line.

Let’s say Illinois and its poor FTrate (30.6) improves. What does that do to its luck? Very little.

… if we erased all their bad luck (-0.77) you might expect their FTR to rise from 30.5 to 32.1. That only bumps them up from 316th to 296th, so not a huge difference.

He says it mostly relates to a team’s late game strategy, which plays into steal rate and opponent eFG%. By pressing the issue – and holding a lead or two – a team might create its own luck.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.