EuroLeague Team Rankings

EuroLeague Team Rankings: Real Madrid Claim Top Spot

Now that we’re officially a third of the way into the EuroLeague season, it feels as though we might finally be able to separate the teams that are real from those that just had hot starts. And while several teams have begun to separate themselves from the pack, we here at FloHoops thought it might be nice to put together a statistically backed power-rankings to see just where the teams stack up. 

But just how can we encapsulate the entirety of a team’s strength into just a single, comparable number? Well, a team’s record is a nice place to start, but with just 10 games’ worth of data, does Fenerbache’s 9-1 record really indicate that they are better than Real Madrid, who are 8-2? How do we compare two teams, such as Bayern Munich and Khimki Moscow, with the same 4-6 record?

One way to break this tie is with point differential. Using that metric, it would seem as though Real Madrid would be the top team, having beaten opponents by an average of 11.4 points. But is Real Madrid beating Maccabi Tel Aviv by 21 points more impressive than Andalou Efes beating Fenerbache by six points? The problem is that because not every team has played each other yet, some teams are bound to have easier schedules than others, and therefore not all wins are equal. 

Luckily, this has also been a problem in international rankings of chess players for a while, which led to the development of the ELO rating system. The ELO system takes into account wins and losses, point differential, and strength of schedule through assigning each team a rating, and then updating that rating after each win/loss based on the strength of an opponent’s ELO score. It’s a zero-sum system, meaning that the winning team “takes points” away from the losing team. But, because the higher-rated team is expected to win more often, a higher-rated team winning will take fewer points from a lower-rated team than when a lower-rated team pulls off an upset. After using a modified version designed to fit basketball models, below you will find the EuroLeague’s ELO rating through the first 10 games of the 2017-18 season.

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