This is everything I've written here or elsewhere over the last few years. You can search, filter by publication, or choose from some highlights below.

StatSeed Selection Sunday Spectacular

Live-Blogging the Robot Selection Process


So here's the deal. As we count down to the field of 68, it's my plan to offer continuous updates of which teams our robots think will go dancing. Last year we got very close. Here's the link to the (gorgeous) StatSeed page, but keep in mind this will be continuously updated, and at times I may be behind or ahead of that page as it updates.

As of Sunday morning before any of the games:

Top Four Seeds: Kentucky, UNC, Syracuse, Kansas

Last Four In: Miami, Virginia, Ole Miss, Northwestern

First Four Out: Seton Hall, Oregon, BYU, Marshall

Next Four Out: Iona, LSU, Washington Mississippi State

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StatSheet Put Harvard into the NCAA Tournament back in April


Last year, right before Selection Sunday, which by the way is an official StatSheet holiday, along with First Round Thursday, MLB Opening Day, and Superbowl Hangover Monday, I came up with about a dozen algorithms that our robots used to successfully pick a competitively close amount of brackets as compared to ESPN's Bracketologist Joe Lunardi, whose DNA we swiped in order to power our StatSeed calculations.

So right after that, on April 5th, 2011, USA Today called and asked us to pick the 2012 NCAA Tournament (this year's tournament) as soon as humanly robotically possible.

Three days later, we delivered. But seriously, we were sandbagging. We just waited three days to run the calculations because we knew that any sooner than that would blow too many minds. I mean, we want to be successful and all, but there's no reason to scare the crap out of people.

Anyhow, I love the fact that we picked Harvard.

We had actually already picked Harvard (incorrectly) to make the 2011 Tournament as well, and I still feel like they got robbed by a committee that couldn't bring itself to put two deserving Ivy League teams into the field of 68. And sure, we got flack for putting Harvard in last year.

But man, did we get flack for putting Harvard in for the following year.

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Ranking the Unrankable

StatSheet Introduces StatRank for NCAA Basketball


Who's the best team in college basketball?

It all depends on who you ask.

One thing that has always frustrated us over at StatSheet is the gross unreliability of NCAA Basketball rankings, in a statistical sense, especially early in the season. Sure, it's hard to do, I'll give you that. A program like Syracuse compared to a program like Bryant? Totally apples to oranges. But a program like Duke compared to a program like Butler? Well, now you're talking maybe Golden Delicious to McIntosh. They're nothing alike, but somehow they wound up #1 and #2 not too long ago.

That is, if you're using the tournament as your indicator of who's the best.

Early in the season, the AP is a popularity contest, the RPI is a circus, and even Sagarin gets his wires crossed when Cleveland State beats Vanderbilt. Our good friend Ken Pomeroy recently posted on his blog about the inability of his algorithms to not put Wisconsin at #2 or Ohio State at #1, even though he clearly believes that neither team deserves that ranking. Furthermore, he warns that both teams will be overranked in his system thorughout the remainder of the season. No system, he states, can properly rank every team.

So of course we took a crack at it.

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The 2011 NFL All-StatSheet Team


The official NFL Pro-Bowl selections will be announced in a couple hours. But here at StatSheet, our robots have already sifted through every play of the season up to this point to bring you weekly and running grades per player by position. Is our method better? we're not saying that. We would just point out that Tim Tebow is nowhere near our top 10 QBs (#17 overall, 80.3 points = B-).

The ranks and grades you see below are cumulative of how the player performed on a game-by-game basis, not seasonal totals. There is a minimum to qualify, and where there was an injury we took the next highest ranked player. We're only including skill positions here because, frankly, we just don't have the money to send everyone to Hawai'i. So without further delay, here is your 2011 NFL All-StatSheet Team.

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5 Dubious MLB Awards. Who is the 2011 Ball Magnet?


As the season winds down, we start to speculate on individual achievements like the MVP, the Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year. But look, any hack can waste pages analyzing that kind of thing.

Justin Verlander. Boom. There you go.

What about the unsung, the infamous, and the notorious? They deserve end-of-season love too, don't they?

Ball Magnet

Carlos Quentin: Hit by a Pitch 23 Times

Ask yourself if you can lean into the strike zone and take a 100 mph fastball upside your melon for the good of the team. And what do you get for your trouble? A free ride to first, something you could have achieved if the pitcher had just thrown four lazy ones outside without ringing your bell.

Would you give up critical thinking and the ability to tie your shoes for 90 feet? Yeah, I didn't think so. Well, Carlos Quentin is 23 times braver than you. He doesn't care if it's lack of sportsmanship or lack of marksmanship that gets him plunked. Chances are, he's not going to remember it happening anyway.

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Stats Don't Lie: Game Over?

StatSheet Introduces Win Probability


It's not over until we say it's over. Or at least until we get up into the 98th percentile.

At StatSheet, we're obsessed with predicting whether and when a team will win or lose and we've gotten pretty good at it. This is mostly due to the fact that we've spent a lot of time churning the historical, the statistical, the probable, and the quantifiable in order to bring you one of our newest toys: Win Probability.

While we're fanatical about the odds, that doesn't mean we necessarily want to be more C3PO than Han Solo. We like to know the numbers, but we're also big into the drama of sport, and we don't like to think of Win Probability as the anti-thesis to Never Give Up.

Thus, 98.8% Win Probability doesn't mean the game is over, it just means that if we turn off the TV now, there's a 1.2% chance we may kick ourselves in the morning.

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Stats Don't Lie: A Robot May Not Injure a Journalist


In today's edition of the Irish Times, our sports-writing killer robots were matched up against a real-life human sports journalist – each providing a recap of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game, the one in which the Huskies coerced Butler into building a brick house of epic proportions on the way to their first title since 2004.

See? Try to peg my writing style to the robots. Can't be done.

Anyway, they put a recap from a human journalist side-by-side with a recap from our robots and asked the reader to pick which was which. They give away the answer at the end. I got it right away. Go me.

This isn't the first time or the funniest time our robot prose has been put up against flesh and blood – my favorite was when a journo from a well-known publication was slamming what he thought was one of our robot articles in comparison to a human example, but in the end it turned out he was unwittingly comparing his human piece to another human piece by a major syndicate.

We still haven't told him.

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Stats Don't Lie: Why This Year's Final Four Was a No-Brainer


I've seen some strange stuff in my life. I've seen improbabilities, impossibilities, outliers, freak accidents, and miracles.

But this year's Final Four roster is none of those.

It was a scant three years ago when we shrugged at the statistical anomaly of all four regional number one seeds advancing to the Final Four (UNC, Kansas, UCLA, Memphis). Had never happened. Actually may not have happened at all. Memphis wound up vacating the season.

This year, up is down, left is right, dogs and cats are living together and your crushed bracket has been forgiven with an acronym and two simple words: “VCU. Who knew?”

But it's not as madness as you might think.

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Stats Don't Lie: Lunardi Battles the Seed Robots


Back in February, we devised an algorithm for the StatSheet robots to be able to pick the field of sixty-eight for the NCAA Tournament, otherwise known as Bracketology. This is a term that not only refers to the work done by Joe Lunardi over at ESPN, but it's a term he invented.

Yeah. Dude teaches a course in Bracketology at St. Joe's.

Thus, we called our findings StatSeed. Not so much to get away from the term “bracketology,” but because we took an extra step and also predicted the teams for the NIT, the CBA, and the CIT (and imagine our surprise to discover the long-lost, mythical “fourth tournament”). All in all, we ended up taking about 150 teams into account at any given time.

Don't get me wrong. We love Lunardi. He is the Godfather of March Madness, at least until Selection Sunday. We respect him. But we must destroy him. Or rather, the robots must destroy him. Not out of spite, or fear, or revolution, but because it's the only way we can prove we're on the right track.

And it turns out, we're closer than we thought.

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Stats Don't Lie: Who Are the Saddest Fans in College Basketball?


Before the beginning of the 2010-2011 College Basketball Season, we decided to develop a formula that would slap a number on the general fan sentiment of every college basketball team.

This number, dubbed StatSheet Fan Satisfaction, appears on every StatSheet Team Site (we feel you, Centenary!), and is also the basis of how we blog the game previews and recaps.

So we're quantifying emotion. And I'm 37 happy about that.

Most fans love this number. Most. Some aren't sold. I stick by it, even though we know that fans of programs that historically win a lot think it's consistently too high, and fans of programs that historically lose a lot, especially the smaller schools, think it's too low.

“Sure, Duke beat Carolina, but they weren't even ranked in the top 10!”

“Look, NC State might have lost 7 of 8, but we just SPANKED Wake Forest!”

Needless to say, Duke fans aren't the happiest (43), and NC State fans aren't the saddest (-15), but you probably won't be surprised at who is. While I will touch on the very saddest of the sad (at the bottom – no cheating!), I won't focus on the next three saddest: Centenary, Towson, and Farleigh Dickinson. Instead, I'll hit some of the more tragically sad (Games as of 2/16/11):

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Stats Don't Lie: How Accurate was the StatSheet NCAA Men's Basketball Season Preview Indicator?


Back in October, we concocted a nasty and complex little formula we dubbed the Season Preview Indicator (SPI), which determined, to a certain degree of confidence, whether a team would be better or worse than they were last year.

For example: Our Top Four "Better" Locks

*Florida: 100% Confident
*North Carolina: 100% Confident
*Illinois: 99% Confident
*Pittsburgh: 96% Confident

In those cases, we got it right (games as of Wednesday, February 9th). The Tarheels had us a little nervous for a while, but all four teams currently have a better winning percentage than they put up last year.

This formula was completely, totally, and absolutely mathematical. All robots, no humans. We didn't take into account non-statistical factors like Bruce Pearl's suspension or Mike Krzyzewski's deal with the devil.

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