An idea has been nagging me for the last few weeks that goes like this: to say a team's goal is to win the game is needlessly over-specific. Any rational team’s goal is to have the lead all game. So every second you don’t have the lead is a failure to some degree. Not only that, but a measurable failure.
With this in mind, I was surprised that none of the computerized rankings sound like they take lead time into account. Sagarin, Massey, Colley, Wolfe and Harris don’t mention it on their sites. This fed my curiosity of whether it’s any good as a metric. For the record, I didn't seek out to prove anything. Most of all, I just wanted to take a look at the season through a different lens. With that said, onto the…
I started with the 2012 per-drive data from cfbstats.com (H/T to mgousesr TSS for pointing me there), then calculated lead times in each game. Then I weighted those leads against the strength of the team the lead was against. I used my own results from the first calculation for the team strength metric, so that my results were not skewed in the slightest by anyone else’s formula. Then I weighted those results one more time for good measure, so opponents’ opponents are weighed in. The only factor considered is amount of time teams had the lead in games.
The Norm 1 (or normalized 1 time) ratings rank teams based on the amount of time they had a lead this season, nothing else. Norm 2 weights lead times against the Norm 1 rating of the opponent. Norm 3 weights lead times against the Norm 2 rating of the opponent.
The list, in three parts:
Top teams in graph form:
Some important notes with the data and/or formula
- No 2-pt conversions or missed extra points are accounted for because the data I used doesn’t mention them. All touchdowns are assumed to be 7 points.
- After calculating the running score in games, some of the outcomes of games were...off. Just a little bit. This is probably because of the last bullet.
- Tie scores are ignored. I think it might be worth it to value them somehow, but I didn’t have time.
- Because of the last caveat, a constantly tied slugfest is worth less than a back and forth game. This should only affect the kinds of teams that get into these kinds of games, i.e. the middling ones, but it still bothers me.
- To add to the last point, I therefore believe the very best and very worst teams are ranked the most accurately
- Overtime is ignored
- Even with team weightings, you are rewarded slightly more for leading the whole game against #19 Utah State than for leading for half of the game against #1 Alabama.
- You are rewarded more for giving away a game where you led all the way than for being on the other side of that.
- Injuries that affect today’s team are not factored into yesterday’s results.
- A strategy to wear other teams out may arguably be lead-agnostic early in the game. However, Oregon and Alabama are the kings of this strategy—in radically opposite ways no less—and they are the top two teams rated. So there’s that.
But anyway, onto…
Well, the results are unique, that's for sure. But they're not exactly out of left field, either. And some of them are downright acceptable.
- Michigan: I have to admit, part of the reason I did this was to prove that Michigan is better than their record. This may still be true, but not according to my formula. Why would this be? It's simple, really. I've given them a lot of credit for playing top teams, but they rarely led in these games. Deep down, what's the difference between losing all game and never showing up? In regards to the Alabama game I can say not much. Furthermore, their most dominant performances came against the worst opponents on their schedule. That shouldn't be a surprise, but if it’s true, neither should the fact that they are properly rated. I am disappoint.
- Oklahoma State: A 7-5 team that was competitive in every loss but one is my #6 team. I wonder if their fans and MSU’s fans have a support group, and if so, where would they find a couch.
- Ole Miss: I barely noticed this team this year. I wonder how their fans feel about their season. They were 6-6 but they may be in for a bounce next year if nobody leaves.
- Utah State: Holy crap did they ever have an under the radar season. But they do drop from #4 to #19 once you factor strength of schedule. Let’s not play these guys, you guys.
Not Surprise Bullets
- Notre Dame is not the best team but they are good. They look better when the strength of opponent is factored in (#4 vs #8).
- Ohio State is not an elite team. That's probably partly why Michigan played them so close. Like Notre Dame, the strength of opponents they led against does bump them up quite a bit (from #26 to #13).
- Texas A&M beating Alabama is somewhat less of a surprise—they’re my #3 team.
- Florida is overrated, said everyone ever until they beat Florida State. But guess who else is overrated? Florida State (their line happens to be one of the most interesting ones, though).
- Michigan State is...marginally better than Michigan? Well, no one would be surprised if you had claimed this in August.
- Stanford beat Oregon, had a tougher schedule, and won the Pac 12. So why do a lot of people just assume that Oregon is the better team? These results might explain why. Oregon was actually a lot more dominant all season, all else being equal. I mean if you don’t count all the stuff that counts.
- Proving my assumptions about Notre Dame and Ohio State almost offsets the disappointment in not proving my assumptions about Michigan.
- The championship game should probably be Oregon-Alabama, just like a lot of people assumed for most of the season. Go BCS.
- In a 4-team playoff, Notre Dame and their undefeated record would deserve a shot. As would Texas A&M, owners of the best win by any team all season.
- These results would be considerably more controversial if Georgia had defeated Alabama, or Michigan had eked out a 2011-esque win against Notre Dame. But none of this happened and maybe there’s a lesson in that.
- I do think that completely removing wins and losses from the equation takes a little of the fun out of it. And it leads to teams with 6 wins being rated higher than BCS juggernauts…like Northern Illinois. But on the other hand, I don’t see why this metric couldn’t be used in unison with a few others in determining how dominant of a season a team had.
- Vegas, which you may know is in the business of predicting games, would no doubt give less than ten points to Bama against Oregon, the current line against Notre Dame. Hey, if Vegas agrees with my relatively simple formula more than the one the big boys use, maybe my poll is better.**
Phew, sorry for the long post. If anyone’s interested, I would consider running this against previous seasons, and hopefully writing a lot less. I would also consider tweaking the formula if the improvements are obvious and consistently better.
* I can’t think of a good name for this. “Lead metric”?
** for the record, Vegas does disagree with some of my rankings. For example, in the bowl games Vegas favors Miss State over Northwestern and Stanford over Wisconsin. Could be because the Big Ten sucked and I didn’t weight the data properly. Also, I already warned you about middling teams. Ctrl-F it.
A recent post about the lack of Michigan Basketball wallpapers prompted me to throw my hat in the ring. I too, am in serious need of a computer/iPad background change, so what better way than to help everyone else out at the same time?!
Full disclosure: I am in no way a graphic designer or Photoshop professional, so all you get are my basic skills. This is also my first foray into creating a wallpaper, so if anyone has tips or recommendations, feel free to share.
Have you ever wondered what our current Michigan basketball roster would look like as an old-school 1970s hoops squad? No? Me either. Until I ran across a gem of a photo in the Bentley Library archives...the 1978-79 team photo – complete with feathered hair, a wicked afro, short shorts and high socks.
It was then that I set out on a conquest to mold both that photo and our current player photos into an epic composite that makes me laugh every time I look at it.
After noting that the amount of players and coaches was almost exactly identical to this year's team, I knew I had to take a crack at it. Also, skin colors were almost perfect with the players that we currently have. There was only one extra body in the original that needed to be accounted for...the glorious man kneeling down on the right in the front row. And let's be honest – he just looks so cool that I had to leave him in.
After a few hours of work, below is the final product. I have multiple versions (desktop color/B&W, iPad) at the link below. I'd have to say that my favorite parts are Jordan Morgan with a sweet afro and Mitch McGary with blonde feathered hair. Also, Trey Burke looks really happy despite how tight his shorts are. I did not deal with jersey number changes because of all the shading and angles those entailed.
Special thanks to TheArtTheArtTheArt's football wallpaper for inspiring this piece.
This could just as easily have been titled “Way Too Early Arkansas Preview Part 2” history buffs can wax nostalgic with part 1 here…http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/way-too-early-arkansas-preview
Here it is 2012 and America’s premiere basketball conference
has an opportunity to flex its muscles against the lowly scum-sucking SEC.
Yes, I am aware that Michigan lost last year in Fayetteville. Yes, I am aware that Ace called it “the most painful possible basketball game to watch” http://mgoblog.com/category/tags/2012-arkansas-hoops
as Arkansas hit their first 11 shots, Michigan turned the ball over repeatedly, and Arkansas shot out to a 20 point lead. Michigan would crawl back, and Trey Burke missed the 3 pointer that would have won the game.
That’s not going to happen this year.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s talk Arkansas. Mike Anderson is starting his second year at the helm for the Razorbacks after finishing 18-14, 6-10 in the SEC. At 4-3, Arkansas has lost to Syracuse, Wisconsin, and Arizona State, and beaten Oklahoma. They do exactly one thing well. Anderson’s teams feed on chaos. They force you to turn over the ball. They press with reckless abandon. They run the court as if there were an 8 second shot clock. They call it 40 Minutes of Hell.
Against good teams, they tend to get out-rebounded by 5 or 6, but they force 4 or 5 more turnovers than they commit. That was enough to beat Oklahoma. Syracuse pulled out the win by shooting 10% better. Wisconsin won their game from the charity stripe. I expect that Michigan will take care of the ball a bit better, and failing all else shoot their way out like Syracuse.
Somehow between turnovers their regular rotation individually manages to shoot around 45% from the field(the exception being Rashad Madden, who shoots 68% but leads the team in turnovers). Their leading scorer 6-3 sophomre guard B.J. Young has no conscience whatsoever.
The guy is shooting 16% from downtown, but he still leads his team in attempts at 4/g. The guy runs and chucks like no player you have ever seen, to the tune of 20pts/game.
Last year 6-2 junior guard Madracus Wade averaged 48% from downtown, averaging 5 attempts/game. He was a game changer.
This year he is averaging two attempts and shooting 29% from downtown averaging 7pts/game. Go figure. Versatile 6-5 sophomore guard Rashad Madden and dangerous charge-prone 6-3 slashing junior wing Ricky Scott are picking up the slack, averaging 12 points and 4 assists between them.
Last year Arkansas lost promising 6-7 junior forward Marshawn Powell to a knee injury.
This year he is healthy and effective, averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds for the razorbacks. He is joined in the frontcourt by newcomer 6-7 junior combo forward juco transfer Coty Clarke, who boasts 8 points and 7 boards/game himself. 6-10 sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson and 6-8 freshman forward Jacorey Williams pitch in as well, combining for 11 points and 6 rebounds per game.
So why am I so convinced that Michigan will pull this one out? In a game as crazy as basketball, shouldn’t we favor the team that favors chaos? Didn’t a wise man once say…“The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.”? Well, time is also marked by transfers and graduation. Specifically, the graduation of guard Julysses Nobles, and the loss of his passing(3 assists), defense(2 steals) and scoring(9 points). They also lost versatile PF Marvell Waithe and Michael Sanchez’s big body to graduation. Then big man Devonta Abron took his 20 minutes of post depth to TCU.
Mostly though, I am comforted that Trey Burke has already done his time in hell, and emerged all the stronger. He’s had 18 assists and no turnovers in his last two home games. And this year, he has help.
My son’s middle(and nickname) may have been inspired by Stu Douglass, but if all else fails against the press I’d rather have Spike helping to get the ball up the court. Players like Hardaway and Stauskas have dealt with a pesky steal-crazy defense down in Peoria, and taken the lessons as they’ve come. This is as complete a team as I have seen adorning the maize and blue.
WMU’s coach summed it up the best. Michigan will win this Saturday because, "They just have better players. They’re a better basketball team – it’s as simple as that.”
69-54 Michigan wins.
(Click the image to view full size)
Yeah, I know there's still the bowl game, but... Basketball. Let's do this.
Tomorrow we'll catch up with Baby Bo.
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So, Now that we’re simply awaiting the start of the bowl season to cap off an interesting year in Big Ten, and indeed, college football, I thought I might present to the board for comment something I had been considering doing for a while – “The Big Ten Scorecard”.
It’s not by any means scientific, and I don’t pretend to be an expert at these things, but what I tried to do here is take summary metrics and compare them to what the conference game averages would have been. Including the BTCG, there were 146 games played (allow that two teams played 13 games, of course), so the same size is sufficient, in my view, to present what an average Big Ten game stat line would look like.
Bearing that in mind, there are several tables – passing offense and defense, rushing offense and defense, scoring offense and defense, a summary for offensive and defense metrics and how many were met, and an overall “score” for the team.
Glad you asked. I kept it fairly simple for this first pass at the idea. You will see in the tables many boxes shaded in red with numbers in red as well. I went with the mean for each statistic as the target, so essentially, what we’re discussing is the team’s performance against the Big Ten mean on 31 measures.
So, for the most part, on offense, if a team was below the mean on a certain measure, the box is shaded because it indicates a performance which was generally subpar compared to the rest of the Big Ten. The sole exception would be interceptions, in which case being below the mean is preferred obviously.
On defense, on the other hand, generally numbers below the mean would be preferred; the sole exception again (for purposes of this experiment) would be interceptions, as more indicates an opportunistic defense.
There are some confounding factors, of course, such as teams facing pass-heavy or run-heavy opponents, but the human performance aspect of football allows teams proficient in stopping such attacks to meet other targets.
In other words, in my totally contrived system, there are 31 possible points, and if you “exceed the target” (perform well against the mean), you get one point for that measure. I have even included handy icons to graphically illustrate which teams are making the grade compared to their conference compatriots, if you will, in the summary tables.
Basically, the final score is the percentage of measures against which you exceeded the conference average. No team obviously scored 100%. Indeed, no one even hit 80%, so there is a bit of a curve involved as well. One other thing that some will undoubtedly notice – sometimes, a team which came in at what appears to be average is still in a shaded box. I rounded the numbers for purposes of simplicity in the tables, but what it means more often than not is that the unrounded figure is still slightly below the actual mean.
TL;DR – Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all exceed the Big Ten mean at least most of the time in most areas. Michigan State and Northwestern would be teams that do this only slightly more than half the time. Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue struggle, needless to say. Illinois...well, at least this season gets “Firestone Smoldering Rubber Award”.
Again, this is my first stab at such a thing, and I welcome comments and suggestions. For as long as I am here, I would like to make it a yearly thing with perhaps even midpoint reports.
THE TABLES (offense first, then defense, in each case):
PASSING – OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
RUSHING – OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
SCORING – OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
OVERALL OFFENSE AND DEFENSE
I had some incredible years playing at Michigan. And that was because of my teammates, the staff, the fans, the tradition. I'm so thankful for my Michigan experience and wanted to share a new venture I'm working on with the Michigan faithful. It's called Merit.