Published on April 19, 2021 by Sinclair Green  
Colton Houston
Colton Houston sgreen6@samford.edu

March Madness may have concluded for the 2020-2021 basketball season, but the use of sports data analytics in basketball will only continue to rise. Since Billy Beane transformed the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team by utilizing data analytics, propelling the team to a 20 consecutive game win streak between August and September, sports fans, coaches, and players have all become more attuned to the role data can play in baseball. As a result, professional basketball teams also began to use data analytics to improve their game plans, skills, and recruiting. In the past few years, Colton Houston and Matt Dover have begun to use data analytics to help college basketball teams similarly to how Billy Beane helped transform the Oakland A’s in the early 2000s.

Houston and Dover’s company, HD Intelligence, provides a service to college basketball that was previously only feasible for professional teams. HD Intelligence eliminates the need for internal data analysts, giving programs access to an entire team of data analyst who compile and organize data so that coaches can make better decisions. HD Intelligence prides themselves on making meaningful insights that coaches can understand. Instead of coaches having to rely on watching video and looking at statistics from box scores, HD Intelligence provides reports for teams which help coaches know their team better, know their opponent better, evaluate recruits effectively, and optimize their schedules. Houston and Dover have a well established data analysis process that provides these insights far more efficiently than that of an internal data analyst.

In the 2019-2020 basketball season HD Intelligence had two primary college basketball clients, The University of Dayton Flyers and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Similar to the Oakland A’s, Dayton does not have quite as robust of a budget as many of the nation’s other top programs. Also similar to the Oakland A’s, the Flyers had a 20 game win streak last year and many basketball aficionados think that Dayton would have won the NCAA tournament had the COVID-19 pandemic not halted the tournament.

Similarly, Alabama basketball has had an excellent 2020-2021 season. The program has risen from the cellar of the SEC to winning the 2021 conference tournament. More importantly, the Tide made themselves a legitimate contender for the national title by making it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. Even though Alabama did not make it to the Elite Eight, they had a great season with many wins. HD Intelligence helped both Dayton and Alabama optimize their talent and resources by providing data analysis of each game and by assisting with pre-season non- conference scheduling for the two programs. Looking to next basketball season, Houston and Dover have over 10 schools who they will assist with data analytics. With the help of HD intelligence, we will see more programs maximize their talent and improve their records.

About the Author

I am a senior economics major and student athlete on the Samford volleyball team. Next year, I will attend the University of Alabama to pursue my J.D.-Ph.D. in law and economics.