Why You Won’t Win Your March Madness Pool (Part 2)

By Max Kaplan In part one, I showed that Florida, a 3 seed, was the best pick for your bracket even though they are not the best team in the tournament. The next step is to choose your other Final Four teams. Before moving on to the rest of the bracket, I added a few bullet points to the bottom of the previous post to … Continue reading Why You Won’t Win Your March Madness Pool (Part 2)

Why You Won’t Win Your March Madness Pool (Part 1)

By Max Kaplan A couple months ago, I wrote an article that showed how to perform better in bowl confidence pools than 90% of all participants by just following the simple strategy of following the consensus of the nation (by either Yahoo averages or betting lines). To be successful, you didn’t need to know who was playing or who was better. You didn’t need to … Continue reading Why You Won’t Win Your March Madness Pool (Part 1)

MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Discussion

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Princeton Sports Analytics writers Max Kaplan and Philip Chang are stat nerds. They have just returned from the so-called Geekapalooza, MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. The conference included many faces of the sports analytics world, including Daryl Morey, Nate Silver, Mark Cuban, and many others. However, there were also ex-coaches and GM’s who were also behind the learning curve. Here is a discussion between Max and Philip about the most interesting aspects of the conference.

Max Kaplan: Sup, Phil. 2 days. 2700 people. 1000 Students. Dozens of panels. Who did you find most interesting among the panels?

revengeofnerdPhilip Chang: Howdy, Max. And before I say anything, let me give a big thank you to the Princeton ORFE department for allowing us to go.

Anyway, while the opening panel Revenge of the Nerds (this year, featuring Mark Cuban, Nate Silver, Daryl Morey, Paraag Marathe, and Michael Lewis) in past years has been the conference’s highlight, it really featured a lot more fluff than I had expected. There was almost no observation of the analytical aspect itself; rather, it seemed to be more of a discussion of different applications of those statistics, and how the structure of player/team evaluation has changed throughout the years. Not that that’s a bad thing, but that steered me away in response to your question, and thus, *upset pick* I really gotta say that the “Predictive Sports Betting Analytics” panel seemed the most contentious and informative of the bunch.

MK: Upset pick? What was the spread? Or the least you could do is explain to me why you were interested in the gambling panel.

PC: Haha, good one. Gambling is typically seen as a “dirty” part of sports, but through the eyes of professional NBA bettor Haralabos Voulgaris, and his interaction with “21” star Jeff Ma, bettor blogger Chad Millman, and director of bookkeeping organization Matthew Holt, we were able to examine how practically sports games, and seasons, could be predicted based on a) the models one chooses, and b) how closely one follows that sports. Haralabos (Bob) described how he closely followed the NBA, which allowed him to place bets with winning strategies on particular games. For the gaming commission, however, it was much more difficult because Holt and his compadres have to place lines on nearly every sporting competition on the planet, with not nearly as much research on a particular competition as Bob has had. To me, it seemed to be a really interesting, practical, and eye-opening discussion that captured exactly what is possible to predict in sports with purely a model, and how those models sometimes don’t take into effect things like lockout seasons, personal issues, etc. Thoughts?

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NFL Wild Card Round Playoff Picks

The NFL playoffs kick off tomorrow afternoon, starting with Bengals-Texans at 4:30.  We asked four of our writers to give their thoughts on who will be victorious in each of this weekend’s matchups.  Interestingly enough, no writers had the same picks.

                          

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans

Danny Lei: Houston; Matt Schaub has failed to throw a touchdown pass in five games this year. All four of Houston’s losses have come in these games, and that fifth game was a beatdown of the Jaguars. The Texans go as he goes, but I expect Schaub will come out strong in his long-awaited playoff debut.

Jay Hashop: Houston; One of the best indicators of Houston’s recent collapse on defense is their inability to get off the field. In their three losses in the past four weeks, the Texans have allowed third down conversion rates of at least 50 percent in each one, while the Colts converted only one third down in Houston’s most recent win. Cincinnati’s poor 34% clip on third down for the season doesn’t bode well for the Bengals.

Bruno Velloso: Cincinnati; The Texans’ slide really began in Week 11, where they needed OT to beat Jacksonville and Detroit, followed by a sloppy win over the Titans before losing three of their last four games. In those three losses, Schaub posted a passer rating of 72.1 or below. The Bengals, meanwhile, are hot, having won seven of their past eight. In those eight games, they have allowed a passer rating above 70 only twice, and not one above 80.

Chad Horner: Cincinnati; The Texans haven’t played a truly impressive game since they dismantled Baltimore over two months ago.  They backed into the playoffs, becoming the first team ever to be 11-1 and end up playing a game on Wild Card Weekend.  These teams are moving in opposite directions, and unless they get a huge game out of Arian Foster, I think the Texans are finished.

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Dogs Vs. Cats and Other Bowl Mascots

By Max Kaplan

JACKSONVILLE – I am reporting from Jacksonville as the Mississippi State Bulldogs face the Northwestern Wildcats tomorrow in the Gator Bowl. The rivalry: Dogs Vs. Cats. Maybe now we can finally determine which is better…

Last week, I looked into the battle between Christian-affiliated schools and evil mascots.

But first, let’s have some more fun with mascots.

Most Popular Mascots in FBS

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Go Tigers!
  • 5 Tigers (Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Memphis, Missouri)
  • 4 Wildcats (Arizona, Kansas State, Kentucky, Northwestern)
  • 4 Bulldogs (Fresno State, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State)
  • 3 Aggies (New Mexico St, Texas A&M, Utah State)
  • 3 Cougars (BYU, Houston, Washington State)
  • 3 Huskies (Connecticut, Washington, NIU)
  • 3 Owls (Florida Atlantic, Rice, Temple)

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Colts Are Nothing But Luck-y

By Chad Horner The Colts were handled easily by the Texans on Sunday, losing 29-17 in their first of two games this season against the AFC South champs.  They were outgained by almost 150 yards and spent most of the day down by two scores.  The Texans had 9 tackles for loss, including 5 sacks of QB Andrew Luck.  Matt Schaub completed over three fourths … Continue reading Colts Are Nothing But Luck-y