Women’s basketball stats: Schedules, seniors, and gender imbalance in WNBA coaching


Hello and welcome! This is a weekly column where I’ll share statistics about women’s college or professional basketball and the stories behind them. Some of the stats I’ll share each week will help you understand games that have already happened or predict upcoming games, while others are intended more to surprise or wow you. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Which teams have played the toughest and the easiest schedules?

Non-conference play has just about wrapped up, and most teams will begin their conference schedules in early January. Her Hoop Stats offers two primary ways to assess a team’s strength of schedule: by looking at the percentage of games that its opponents win and by looking at opponents’ average scoring margin (points scored minus points given up) per 100 possessions. These methods are similar, as teams that have high winning percentages will likely have positive scoring margins.

More from NCAA

If we use opponents’ winning percentage, the five teams from Power 5 conferences that have played the toughest schedules are:

  1. Notre Dame (8th-toughest overall)
  2.  UCLA (13th)
  3. Ohio State (17th)
  4. Oklahoma (18th)
  5. North Carolina (27th)

The five Power 5 teams with the easiest schedules are:

  1. Utah (7th-easiest overall)
  2. Texas Tech (12th)
  3. West Virginia (18th)
  4. Arizona (23rd)
  5. TCU (30th)

Two other teams of note are Southern and Green Bay. Southern has played the toughest schedule of any team to date; its opponents win 87 percent of their games and outscore teams by an average of 25 points per 100 possessions. Three of Southern’s first seven games have been against Big 12 opponents, and the team is 0-7 so far this season. Green Bay also has a losing record, which is unusual for the perennial mid-major power, but that is partly because its schedule is the ninth-toughest in the country. Kudos to coach Kevin Borseth for putting together such a difficult schedule even though playing Green Bay is a risk many coaches won’t take.

Seniors on opposite sides of the sport’s most famous rivalry step up

UConn and Tennessee are a combined 20-1 so far this season, and seniors Katie Lou Samuelson (UConn) and Meme Jackson (Tennessee) are big reasons why. Samuelson had never had double-figure rebounds in a game before this season, but she has recorded double-doubles in points and rebounds in each of her past three games: 26 and 16 against Seton Hall, 20 and 11 against Oklahoma, and 20 and 11 against California. (She did have one double-double last season, registering 18 points and 10 assists in UConn’s first-round NCAA Tournament win over Saint Francis.) Meanwhile, Meme Jackson is averaging 14.5 points per game for the Lady Vols, up from 8.2 last season. She’d only scored 20 points in a game twice in her career entering this season, but she has done so twice in her past three games, with a career-high 33 points against Texas and 23 against ETSU. (In between, she scored 17 points in a close loss to red-hot Stanford on December 18.)

It’s too bad these two players will graduate before the rivalry renews next season, but there’s still a chance the teams could meet in the NCAA Tournament.

The WNBA will have more male head coaches than female head coaches next season (again)

With the December 18 announcement that former Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler will lead the Dallas Wings next season, all of the WNBA coaching vacancies for 2019 have been filled. The league will have one fewer female head coach in 2019 than in 2018, with 5 women and 7 men. The last time women made up a majority of WNBA head coaches was in 2010, and the only other times it has happened were in the league’s first two seasons.

Source: Author’s calculations from https://www.basketball-reference.com/wnba/teams/.