We’re not sure about you, but around the VisualCue offices our NCAA basketball brackets have taken quite a beating this season. From surprise upsets (we’re looking at you, Kansas) to personal heartbreaks we will be watching the games this weekend and the championship game on the 4th with great interest.

In the spirit of March Madness we are proud to present our favorite basketball data visualizations that, if we were serious about making the best bracket possible, we should have consulted before we filled them out.

Where To Take The Shot

Ballr comes to us from Todd W. Schneider and is arguably the most interesting way to visualize where individual NBA players like taking their shots. Let’s take a look at Stephen Curry.

basketball data visualization
Turns out Stephen likes to shoot in the key lately

The best part about this visualization? Not only can you look at pretty much every player in the NBA and see where they are currently taking most of their shots (with the current rate of success) but you can also look at historical data and see how that player has changed over time.

For an added bonus we recommend getting the top players from a single team and seeing how they work together to get an insight into the mind of a coach. Are three-point shooters often paired with players who like to head straight to the basket? What happens when a long-distance team meets another? Would the numbers be a fair indication of relative success, or is the game more unpredictable than that?

Finally… A Measurement of Drama

Why do we watch sports, in the end? No matter who you ask, we’re sure you’re going to get different answers. The explanations usually run the gamut from “It was something my family always did” or “it brings a community together” to “I love the athleticism” and “I have pride in my home team.”

But I think deep down we can all agree on something: no matter what your reason is for watching a game we are all, in one way or another, drawn to the drama of it. Think about the most exciting moments you have when watching: it’s the clinch buzzer-beater, the Hail Mary, the team who comes back from behind to win the championship.

Finally, there is a website out there that ranks games on an axis and one of those axis does, in fact, measure the drama.

basketball data visualization
That Arizona/Michigan game really was amazing

There is plenty that we like about this visualization, but above all we love the ability to break down the information and look specifically at teams or certain conferences and see how they compare. In no time at all we were able to drill down to our home team and look at what their most exciting, high-scoring games were for that season.

In that way this visualization embodies what we really love about March Madness and watching sports in general- excitement in the moment and stories you’ll tell for years after. Unless, of course, the game ranks lower on the drama axis. That’s when you focus on your nachos instead.

Until next time,

The VisualCrew