UW Health Sports Medicine 

Points per possession

It's often one of the first questions Coach Ryan asks of his assistant coaches at halftime or after a game, "What were our points per possession? What were they?"

What is Coach Ryan asking for and how are his Badgers doing in that stat?

The points per possession stat refers to how many points a team scores divided by how many possessions that team has in the game. Wisconsin has averaged around 61 possessions (trips down the floor) per game this season and 58.7 possessions during Big Ten play.


If you consider that the Badgers are averaging 68.1 points in a game, the overall PPP comes out to roughly 1.1 points per possession. Putting it in the simplest terms, UW is basically getting a two-point bucket every other trip down the floor.


The coaching staff likes this stat because it is one of the best indicators of both offensive and defensive efficiency. While many will complain about Big Ten games being low scoring, the efficiency number might be a better way to evaluate good basketball.


For argument's sake, let's look at what the Badgers would average if they had as many possessions in a game as some of the higher scoring teams. Kentucky averages 72 possessions per game and has an identical 1.1 PPP as UW. The translation means that at UW's current efficiency, the Badgers would average 79.2 points per game, the same as Kentucky.


Ryan's teams use this stat in practice as well. During the 5-on-5 work during practice, a manager stands next to Coach Ryan charting the PPP for both the "first string" and the scout team. If the "first string's" offensive PPP gets below 1.0, they are forced to run sprints. If the "first string" allows the scout team's offensive to get above 1.0, they are forced to run sprints.


Nobody likes to run sprints in the middle of an intense practice.


Thanks to BasketballProspectus, we have the Big Ten's points per possession for conference games played through February 1. You can see below that Wisconsin is second in the conference in efficiency margin. The Badgers rank fifth in offensive PPP and first in opponent's PPP.



Pace: possessions per 40 minutes

PPP: points per possession

Opp. PPP: opponent PPP

EM: efficiency margin (PPP - Opp. PPP)

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM

1.  Michigan St.      9-0   64.7    1.05    0.94    +0.11

2.  Wisconsin         6-3   58.7    1.03    0.93    +0.10

3.  Purdue            6-3   65.0    1.06    0.98    +0.08

4.  Ohio St.          6-3   63.7    1.05    0.97    +0.08

5.  Michigan          4-5   61.4    1.01    0.96    +0.05

6.  Illinois          6-3   66.7    1.03    0.99    +0.04

7.  Minnesota         4-5   66.0    1.02    1.06    -0.04

8.  Northwestern      3-6   63.2    1.05    1.13    -0.08

9.  Iowa              2-7   63.0    0.92    1.02    -0.10

10. Indiana           3-5   65.5    0.92    1.03    -0.11

11. Penn St.          0-9   61.3    0.95    1.09    -0.14