Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NCAA Tourney Links

1. When is a game over? Bill James has the answer.

2. Josh Levin's tourney pet peeves.

3. Get your log5 probabilities here. (At least for the East and Midwest.)

4. Obama: Kind of a front-runner.

5. When is it better to be losing than it is to be winning?

13 comments:

DannyNoonan said...

You beat the guy at intramural sports trivia and now he gets to help Obama with his bracket? Ouch.

PaulNoonan said...

To be fair, that was almost entirely Jon, who pops up around here once in a while.

E.S.K. said...

I wonder how many of his final four team will get bailed out by the officials should they be losing.


Rim shot!

Jon said...

that ruled when we won, was andy katz really on the opposing team??? i had no idea. as for #5 on the list, at first it seemed like one of the more interesting sports/stats things i've seen in a long time. upon closer look though, and upon reading the comments, seems like a sham where the authors are distorting the chart/interpretation to try and get at interesting findings. agree? look at the plotted dots instead of the two curves.

PaulNoonan said...

Yup, I agree. Good point Jon.

If memory serves, the first year we won we beat Andy's team in the Semis, and the team we played in the finals was greatly surprised by this.

Jon said...

wow i didnt even know he went to wisconsin. was he a student then? and famous for something (like writing for badger herald or cardinal)?

PaulNoonan said...

After reading his bio, it seems likely that I'm mistaken as he is like 6 years older than us (though he is an alum), but here's the story.

I did not know of Andy Katz at the time. Before our match started I talked to another team that had just played (and lost) and they where whining about Andy Katz. Alot. This means I could be wrong, as I'm relying on other people's whining, but they seemed pretty sure. And It didn't mean a thing to me until I saw the guy on ESPN for the first time and I was like "Hey, it's that Andy Katz guy." However, according to his bio he would have been at the Fresno Bee at the time, so this may be one of those things where I just misunderstood someone and then something clicked later.

Anyway, we still won the thing twice.

Jon said...

undefeated 2 time champions i think. i do vaguely remember something similar to what you're talking about now, i think it was probably someone who wrote on the herald sports staff, but probably not andy katz. lets just say it was bill james for the sake of a good story.

PaulNoonan said...

Sounds good. Bill James it is.

ahren said...

i thought the same thing about the graph... it's worthless without noting the variance and how far off the main fit-line each of the points in question are...

that said, i thought of another hypothesis for the phenomena, if it really exists:

the team ahead at half-time is more likely to be the team that got the ball to start the first half, cuz they have the advantage of possibly having an extra posession (assuming that all turnovers, etc. even out over the course of the 7000 games or whatever). thus, the team that is behind is more likely to get the ball to start the second-half (again, assuming that jumpballs even out over the whole sample).

there's a chance that having the ball first in the second half is more valuable than having the ball first in the first half. a reason could be that there are less posessions in the second-half, thus your extra posession counts for a higher percentage of total posessions. a seperate, but related reason could be that having the ball more times under situations of greater situational certainty (like receiving the kickoff to start the 2nd half instead of the first... or batting in the bottom half of an inning) leads to tactical advantages.

in any case, it's also likely that if any effect like this existed, it'd wash out rather quickly in anything other than a 1 point game, so it'd only be noticable in the case of 1 point games...

i'm not saying i believe any of this at all. but it's interesting to think about. and obviously i'm biased, but i prefer my explanation to "teams that are losing try harder"...

could it actually be bad to win the jump ball?

PaulNoonan said...

Isn't it bad to take the ball fist in football, all things being equal, because you can create an extra possession by ending the fist half with a score?

Jon said...

why is getting the ball to start the first or 2nd half better/worse either way? # of possessions during the game shouldn't differ, even though the scenario you describe gives you 2 of them "consecutively". however in that scenario each team had the ball equal times in the 1st half, whereas if you receive first and end the 1st half with a score, you got an extra possession that half. since possessions should be equally valuable regardless of which half they occur in, i can't see it mattering unless there's some psychological impact one way or another.

ahren said...

to be clear, i'm not saying that it definitely DOES matter. just raising the possibility that it could.

possessions later in the game are potentially worth more than earlier possessions because you have more information.

for instance, if basketball games were limited to 100 possessions, and you could choose which possessions you'd probably be correct to choose possessions 51-100, and would almost certainly prefer to have possession 100 over posession 49.

it's like in baseball. the home team has a huge advantage batting last. in the top of the 9th of a tie game, the visitors are hard-pressed to choose between 1 run or multi-run offensive strategies, cuz they don't know what will happen with the home team's last 3 outs. in the bottom of the 9th, the home team already knows what the visiting team did, so the 1 run strategies become the obvious choice.