The Mirage is False: Hart Improves Villanova Margin by up to 12

Josh Hart, Ryan Fazekas

Mirage Manager Jeff Stoneback is a betting line genius, but wrong on one point in this interview with Covers, Value Add Basketball calculates there is no way the best player in college basketball (Villanova’s Josh Hart) is worth only two points a game to Villanova.

Stoneback states in the interview that the betting line can be adjusted by up to six points when a start NBA player is out for a game, but typically not more than two points when a star college player is out. He does admit that the reason they limit the size of bets on regular college basketball to $3,000 is because they cannot as effectively monitor the changing teams with transfers and player becoming eligible after one semester or returning from injury.

However, the impact of an injured star college player is actually typically much more dramatic than an NBA star going down, because the level of an NBA bench player is much higher and closer to the value of the injured star player than on most college teams.

As I wrote in Big Apple Buckets last year, Value Add Basketball is not really the same as Baseball WAR (Wins Above Replacement), but the math is similar. If Villanova loses Hart’s 16.2 point Value Add because he was out for the game, their sixth best Value Add player (Donte DiVincenzo, 4.2 Value Add) would not simply take all of his minutes and result in Villanova being 12 points worse. However, the impact is almost that high because of a domino effect – Mikal Bridges (10.2) moves from 2nd best to best player on the team and gets more shots but with more defensive pressure, and the same with the third, fourth, fifth and sixth (DiVincenzo) becoming only slightly more valuable because of having to do more. When you follow the math, the impact can be close to a 12-point drop for Villanova once you go through the whole domino.

No player ever finished a season close to Hart’s 16.2 Value Add Calculation, so he will certainly drop a few points. Imagine for a second that Hart missed the recent game against a very good Notre Dame team on a neutral court. Hart scored 37 points by going 10 of 14 from the floor including three of four on three-pointers, he made all 14 free throws, he gave out four assists and he grabbed 11 rebounds. While DiVincenzo is normally a solid player he missed all four of his shots. Villanova won 74-66, and if Hart had not played in that game there is no way Villanova wins – he was worth much more than eight points and he has been most of this season.

Calculating the Value Add domino effect of a missing or returning player – basically by subtracting the Value Add of the player on the team five steps below the missing player, is how Jason Dewicke correctly told Breitbart Sports readers to pick Fresno State at their game at highly ranked Oregon. The fact is you can rarely beat Vegas during tournament time when they know everything imaginable about the 68 remaining teams – but during the regular season you can find the upsets, near upsets and blowouts by comparing to DonBest Injury Report.

It was a lesson I first learned years ago in college when I correctly beat the spread on 13 of 14 regular season college games, only to quickly lose my money all back in a weekend of March Madness. My first advice is not to gamble – the house wins long-term – but if you do one of the few places you can peg the value of a specific missing or returning player on the final spread is in college basketball.

Rnk Villanova Players Pt Value Ht Class pgper
1 Josh Hart, No.3 16.2 6′ 5″ Sr SG*1.1*12Gms
31 Mikal Bridges, No.25 10.2 6′ 7″ So SF*1*12Gms
92 Jalen Brunson, No.1 8.3 6′ 2″ So PG*1.2*12Gms
223 Kris Jenkins, No.2 6.6 6′ 6″ Sr PF*1*12Gms
527 Darryl Reynolds, No.45 4.6 6′ 9″ Sr C*1*12Gms
621 Donte DiVincenzo, No.10 4.2 6′ 5″ So SF*1*12Gms
969 Eric Paschall, No.4 2.9 6′ 7″ So C*1*12Gms
2210 Dylan Painter, No.42 0.5 6′ 10″ Fr PF*1*9Gms
NR Phil Booth, No.5 0 6′ 3″ Jr PG*1.2*indef*3Gms
NR Tim Delaney, No.34 0 6′ 8″ So PF*1*4Gms


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