Mgoblog declares Kentucky NCAA Champions, tournament deemed redundant.

Submitted by ClearEyesFullHart on March 7th, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Kentucky celebrates their 2012 NCAA Championship

Calipari reacts to using efficiency margins to determine the NCAA Championship, saying

"I couldn't be happier.  This is a player's market.  They were charging me by the game!  That's $500,000 I can put towards next year's class!"

Brian Cook answers his detractors who cite things like the pageantry, the school pride, and the Cinderella stories that result from actually playing the NCAA tournament, saying, "You can grub grub grub about will to win and finding ways to win and winning is for winners; I don't buy that stuff."

St Louis coach Rick Majerus reflects on his team's Sweet 16 banner.

Majerus was quick to share the credit with the guys who got him here, "I just knew that last bucket over Illinois-Springfield would pay off in the end.  Know that I never would have made it here without NCSOS Pyth and AdjT."  *a single tear traces a delicate line down his ample cheek*  "I love you guys."

When asked for comment on the Lobos rise to power, Brian Cook was quick to point out, "Did you know that David Brandon invented cancer? Five minutes from the cure...One more year...we were right!"

Disarmed, Majerus could only comment, "That is the dumbest smart guy I have ever met."

New Mexico celebrates their less than surprising victory over Duke.

A confident Steve Alford cites key rebounds against UMKC for the victory, "I knew back in Dec. 2011, when we pulled down that last board against the Roos that it would put our adjD over the top."  Alford quickly appointed a name tag on his striking red coat and scurried off to his second job managing the local Kmart.

edit: thanks seth, I love you too



March 7th, 2012 at 11:01 AM ^

I believe this is a response to the Mailbag this week, in which Brian says we're a vulnerable 3 seed and maybe not as good as our record/Big Ten title would indicate.  He based it off of UM's close wins and low KenPom ratings. I think the OP is using parody to argue that advanced metrics might not determine who will win any given game.


March 7th, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

You would not think you would have to do this on MGoBlog, but if you write a satirical post, you have to paste a big red /s all over it or people freak out.  

If you were to make them read EDSBS while listening to Zappa their heads would asplode. 



March 7th, 2012 at 11:13 AM ^

I filled out a bracket last year using strictly KenPom and entered it into a pool to see how advanced metrics fared against the field. I believe I finished last.

The OP has a point, although it wasn't clearly stated.


March 7th, 2012 at 11:29 AM ^

And in other years, filling out a bracket based off of KenPom would have produced very good brackets.  What's your point?  Your reasoning there is akin to some of the faulty reasoning about player stars that the Mathlete debunks in his recent diary. 

To use the Mathlete's analysis as a metaphor, just like a recruiting service identifies the best prospects (5 stars), KenPom identifies the elite teams, using advanced metrics.  Each year in recruiting, there are far more 3-stars than 5-stars.  Each year, the basketball tournament has only 5-10 elite teams per year, leaving far more non-elite teams.  Each year, inevitably some 5-stars end up as busts and lots of 3-stars end up being good.  Each year in the basketball tournament, inevitiably some elite teams get upset early, and some non-elite teams get hot and go on a run to the Elite 8 or Final 4. 

And beyond that, the Tournament is essentially a best of 1 playoff series that is subject to very high variance.  (Which is part of what makes it awesome, but that's besides the point.)

So my point is, giving some anecdotal evidence about how KenPom gave you a really crappy bracket is not a concrete indictment against KenPom.


March 7th, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

It's a strong indictment against Brian's philosophy of not buying into intangibles. Numbers don't dictate how various teams match up with each other, and they don't show how a great coach can lead a weak squad over a much more talented one (Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, etc).  Luckily, it looks like we've got someone who can do just that.

I still agree with Brian's sentiment that we could very well lose to any team we face in the second round, I just don't think the numbers are what demonstrate that.

Hardware Sushi

March 7th, 2012 at 11:57 AM ^


First of all, I don't think Brian has a philosophy of not buying into intangibles - that's an absurd assumption - a more accurate description is that he does not attempt to guess or measure how they will affect the outcome when you have a plethora of tangible, measurable statistics available for you to use.

Second, read through Kenpom's own description of the purpose of his analytics. They use all known information to predict how a team will perform against another team right now. Obviously, if past performance perfectly predicted future outcomes we'd all be rich off the stock market. Kenpom doesn't ever claim to make up for the intangible factors of human nature in college players (hot shooters, girl problems, exam stress, etc.). He can measure past home court advantage and build it into his model but how do you plan to include "Great Round of 64 Pep Talk" into a predictive model?

It is not a strong indictment of Kenpom's numbers or Brian's use of them if you fill out a bracket with them and it sucks. The only strong indictment you can pull from that is that the previous poster was dumb for not reading what Kenpom's numbers are for and then being surprised when it didn't work out for him (not to mention the fact that some years Kenpom has, in fact, been better than chalk).


March 7th, 2012 at 12:05 PM ^

I don't know that Brian "doesn't buy into intangibles", I think it's more of the fact that intangibles are just that, intangible, so it is impossible/difficult to quantify them.  If you are trying to objectively compare two teams, how can you possibly compare their grit, toughness, and unity other than by making highly subjective statements?  We think Novak is the toughest SOB in the country, how many points a game is that worth?  And some people probably think their grit guy is tougher than Novak - how can you show who is right?

I'm not speaking for Brian, but to me it looks like he is trying to provide objective, measurable analysis, so he focuses on advanced metrics.  I don't think anyone on this site would argue with you that intangible things (matchups, team psychology) impact how a basketball team performs.  They are just much more subjective, and so the focus is on the measurables.

To nit pick a small point you made, even great coaches are limited by their players.  Look at what Brad Stevens is doing this year - "he" is struggling b/c Butler lost a bunch of talented players.  Don't get me wrong, I still think he is a good coach, but giving him all the credit for leading a "weak" Butler squad to the Final Four is wrong, imo.  Those Butler squads had a good coach AND were talented.

EDIT: Beaten to the punch a bit by Hardware Sushi.  Very nicely said, Sushi.


March 7th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

I think some of the heated debate on this topic comes from a confusion over whether one is analyzing predictively or descriptively.

In recruiting, it's a little more clear: we rank the players once, before they do anything, and then they are judged basically on what they produce, so we're happy to label players as busts or hidden gems depending on if they under- or overperformed relative to expectations.

When talking about teams and seasons, the line between predictive and descriptive is blurred because we analyze as we go. The OP has purposely demolished this line, which can help to identify that one ought to exist, but his dickishness obscures his point. 

I think the healthy approach is to consistently remind oneself of the difference between predictive and descriptive. Numbers can be part of storylines, identifying teams that are ripe to surge or fall, adding an interesting component to the game. In the end, we describe "best" as "won most when it counted," that's that.


March 10th, 2012 at 1:32 AM ^

And I hope you dont feel like I'm singling you out, because this applies to many, many posters on this board...But if one's goal is to attack a piece of writing, feigning stupidity is generally not the way to go.  Just a bit of constructive criticism.


March 7th, 2012 at 10:52 AM ^

I think it's time to bust out the ole' "WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN" images, boys.

Seriously, what are you trying to do here?  It doesn't even make sense from a satire standpoint.


March 7th, 2012 at 10:57 AM ^

Let's put it this way, either Kentucky or Syracuse will most likely end with the most impressive season in the country regardless of whether they actually win the NCAA tournament. I for one wish that kind of thing were rewarded.

EZ Bud

March 7th, 2012 at 11:09 AM ^

I was also bothered by the use of invented KenPom formulas and indicators to detract from our season. KenPom, where MSU is #3, Wisconsin is #7, Duke is #17, and Michigan is #20. Time to recalibrate those formulas, Ken.


March 7th, 2012 at 11:09 AM ^

I thought it was actually pretty funny.  The concept of game being over before it's played is pretty good, but the OP could have expanded on it more... this probably could have even made into a diary.   I give it an "A" for effort, and I liked the K-Mart remark


March 7th, 2012 at 11:10 AM ^

I think a better analysis would be to actually take efficiency and kenpom ratings from years past to actually determine how that correlated into NCAA tournament results.  Then debunk or affirm the relative predicting power of kenpom, efficiency, etc. and determine what, if anything, was a good predictor of NCAA tournament success.

My name ... is Tim

March 7th, 2012 at 11:14 AM ^

Not sure I agree with the somewhat harsh tone of this post, and in some parts even I - who support the OP's basic premise - was all like "WTF?", but I've been feeling this way as well.

Brian's slavish reliance upon the Kenpom numbers feels to me a little lazy and bordering on a cult-like devotion. We get it, they are very valuable statistical figures. However, merely stating "Welp, KenPom says this so this is true" is not the kind of analysis I've come to expect from Brian - who often does a great job of eviscerating the faulty premises of other's statistical analyses. In the latest post he merely states that the 5 seeds are more palatable seemingly because their Kenpom numbers are lower than UNLV/New Mexico. There isn't any thought behind why UNLV/New Mexico are less palatable than Louisville/FSU (the latter of whom has some major wins against major programs), other than "See: Kenpom". Maybe there's more analysis under the surface, but I feel like a lot of basketball previewing/coverage this year from Brian has been "See: Kenpom". 

This is not a flame on Brian, who I think does tremendous work. It is constructive criticism. The only reason I raise it is because I think it is a marked difference from how in depth his other work is/has been.


March 7th, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

I could be wrong on this, but I think that a big part of the reason that Brian relies on advanced metrics for basketball is that he does not know as much about the intricacies of the game as he does when it comes to football.

That's not meant as an insult in any way. I know very little about the inner workings of basketball, especially when compared to football.

Perhaps Brian defers to these statisitics for bball because they are the best way he knows how to predict what will happen, and instead of making basless predictions to appease the masses (like ESPN talking heads do all the time), he defers his expertise to KenPom. 

I mean, sure it would make us all feel better if Brian said that he had a gut feeling we are going to the Elite 8. But that wouldn't make it happen. And it would take away from some of the professionalism that he displays on a daily basis. There are plenty of homers* around these parts already.

*including yours truly


March 7th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

would adding any sort of subjective views on 'intangibles' be any better of a predictor?

I'd guess not.  I love Brian's football work, but even on that, he's frequently dead wrong.  I wonder if his track record is any better than Vegas lines or other, even more statistically slavish algorithms.  For basketball, which Brian is obviously way less interested in, less invested in, and less knowledgeable about, it would be kind of silly for him to throw out hack analysis to supercede kenpom.

That disdain for making predictions in general.


My name ... is Tim

March 7th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

I have no problem with Brian deferring to others if he's claiming ignorance. I would no doubt have to do similarly. Although, I think Brian does provide some rather good game recap analysis.  That's why I'm sort of shocked about the Kenpom reliance. I think he's actually become much more capable of a breakdown than the usual layman and - in my opinion - Seth Davis.

I'm not really looking for a breakdown of intangibles, but things like "Team X runs this type of offense" or  "Player Y has improved as of late and rebounds beyond his measurables" do have an impact that Kenpom can't measure or predict.

Also, I don't really make this critique re: his prediction at the end of game previews - clearly that section is at least part in jest and I also don't really care about what anyone predicts for the game. It's more of some of his general analysis like what I referenced in his breakdown of potential matchups for Michigan.

March 7th, 2012 at 11:18 AM ^

The backgroud or "theme" wasn't very well defined, but it's basically a set of political cartoons in words.  I think it's very current too, even using at least one (i think only the one) quote from Brian's mailbag.


March 7th, 2012 at 11:21 AM ^

You are correct that Brian has a rather pessimistic view of the team. I believe that the statistic MOV is overrated, and that Beilein has very deliberately game-planned to compensate for Michigan's general lack of length and athleticism. This keeps the MOV low. It also keeps Michigan in games.

My hope is that both Smotz & THJ are peaking, and will be shooting 35 - 40% plus from the three point line. This will open things up so significantly that Michigan would win decisively over most competition.


March 7th, 2012 at 11:23 AM ^

Goddammit it's


, not "sight."

Also you seem to be writing this from the perspective of someone who does not get the difference between "Team A and Team B split their season series but Team A scored more and was scored on less over the course of a relatively equal season, therefore I predict Team A would defeat Team B in a hypothetical sixth game between them," and "Team A just beat Team B in their last game, therefore Team A is 'better!'"

That the first thing bothers me more is definitely more my problem than yours. The second is the reason your attempt at lampooning Brian's statement said more about your comprehension of logic than any logical fault with his statement.


March 7th, 2012 at 11:33 AM ^

what makes you think he doesn't understand the second thing? it makes sense to satirize brian's overreliance on kenpom if you think some analysis of unique circumstances surrounding individual games deserves equal billing, even if you understand the stats and how they can be used perfectly well. i don't really think he could have written it if he thought it were just about who won the last game.


March 7th, 2012 at 1:34 PM ^

You are reading that too literally.

What I'm saying is you could say "games are decided on the field!" to any prediction, but in doing so you're making a statement about the value of predictions in general, not the specific prediction in question.

If you can quantify and qualify the "unique circumstances" surrounding individual games and their predictive worth against "which basketball teams are better at scoring and not getting scored upon" (ie Kenpom), then please write that diary.

But that's not what the OP is doing. If you say something like "I know Kenpom says we are 70-30 to lose to Kentucky but our players have more heart," then you don't get how statistics work.

I'm not discounting "heart" by saying this. What I'm saying is that "heart" or "whatever" is already IN the statistics because their Novakian efforts were converted during the season to things like "beat Ohio State" and "only lost once at home," and "scored more points than Northwestern except when their 3-pt attempts were just bad-sample-size-y unlucky."\

To the greater point: "Found a way to win" sounds great in prose and that's about the nicest thing you can say about that phrase.* The problem with it is "a way" could mean anything, therefore it's a completely useless statement. I "found a way" to post a reply to you just now. I also "found a way" to age past 30. Everything that has ever happened has "found a way" to do what it did. Unless you can describe the "way" then all you've said is "I have no fucking clue why this happened," which is probably true, but not at all useful to a reader who is coming to you to find out what the fuck just happened.

This phrase and those like it which Brian said he isn't buying (the main point the OP was raking him over the coals for) are valueless. They're meant to be suggestive of "there's some secret situational weapon this team uses to score more when they most need to" but more often than not the "secret weapon" is "luck" which = randomness = not predictive = not useful except in narrative prose when you don't know shit and want to sound like you do.


I just totally set myself up for somebody finding an instance of me using "found a way to win."


March 8th, 2012 at 11:20 AM ^

     I suppose I've got some 'splainin to do.

     The idea for this post originated several weeks ago.  Michigan had just beaten some random sub-Michigan team, and Brian was openly lamenting points scored by our opponent in garbage time.  As if above and beyond style points, winning by 15 instead of 10 would have CAUSED the team to have success in the future.  At first I wasn't sure if he was serious, and I had a good chuckle.

     But several weeks later, and Brian is still leaning on Kenpom like its gospel...I'm not sure if he was kidding.  I think he may have actually lost touch with reality.  I mean Pomeroy is a great tool if you've never seen either team play...But I've got to say eyeballs are a little more reliable.  You guys are acting like the stats Pomeroy tracks dont reflect luck and variance.  Using Pomeroy rankings to judge the quality of a team is like using weight to judge a person't fitness.  Its information, I'll grant you that.  And across the entire population, it is a pretty good indication.  But to use an extreme example...Mike Martin.  Weight is great, but you can tell a little more jut by looking at him. 

     I'll tell you what my eyeballs tell me.  They tell me saying that Wisconsin is better than Michigan is one of the dumber things they've heard.  Michigan took them apart from the jump of the ball.  I'll tell you why they've got a pretty statistical profile.  I'll tell you why they finished in front of Indiana.  Its because they only had to play Michigan once.

     My eyeballs tell me that UM and MSU were about as close as they've ever been.  I dont know how you take him out of the Pomeroy formula, but without Dawson my eyes tell me they give the nod to Michigan.  They also tell me that Sullinger is baby soft, but Buford is probably the embodyment of what THJ would look like as an upperclassman.

     Lets break out Occam's Razor for a minute.  Half way through Novak's freshman year, Pomeroy's model suggested something like a 16% chance Michigan would reach the tournament.  Halfway through this year, Pomeroy's model predicted something like a 16% chance Michigan would win a Big Ten Championship.  The model gave us a 26% chance to beat Ohio and a 34% chance to beat Michigan State.  Does it make more sense to believe that Michigan has been winning the lotto multipally and consecutively, or to admit that your model isn't very good?




March 9th, 2012 at 11:15 AM ^

I appreciate the explanation, but 16% chance of happening doesn't mean "it isn't happening;" actually it means "will happen" given enough trials. If Michigan plays its entire season against the Top 5 teams in the country, then 16% success rate predicts Michigan will beat those teams probably 4 times, plus or minus.

Your eyeballs are not trustworthy at all, because their information is only connected to and interpreted by a human brain, which is hardwired for overreaction, self-preservation, and group bias.

And more to the point, MGoBlog is written under the assumption of a mutual understanding that you already have the information from your eyes. True you can't tell everything about Mike Martin from his weight, but by complaining about MGoCoverage of basketball stats it's kind of like telling the guys who wrote Michigan's player roster that they're way overrating size, because by only focusing on height and weight they're making Kovacs look like a scrub.

If your point is that MGoBlog isn't enough and you should definitely watch all the games too, then I wholeheartedly agree with you!