Watch RJ Hunter’s Game-Winning Three on Repeat, Forever

Ohhhhhhh my God. OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod.

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Fun With Numbers: March Madness Math

It’s fun to get a different perspective on sports, sometimes. To that end, we brought in Friend of the Program and Vanderbilt Engineering Masters student Chris Hasselwander to run some nerd stuff to present some different mathematical models predicting who’s going to win the NCAA Tournament. Everything that follows this introduction is his own work, done while slacking off from saving lives with his MRI machine research.

As always, if he’s wrong it proves once and for all that we play the games on the court, and not on computers. Hope you enjoy.

How is this going to work?

I’m going to fill out 4 brackets as follows:

  1. My own bracket with my own dumb predictions
  2. A coin flip bracket, where each matchup has 50/50 odds
  3. A bracket in which the odds are decided by historical precedent
  4. A bracket using my own method to decide the odds

Whatever the computer spit out is what I wrote down. Cheating is wrong.

Historical Odds:

I calculated the win probability for each possible seed matchup from the historical results from every NCAA tournament game ever played.  I wrote a Matlab program that will pick a winner for each game based on the historical probabilities for that specific seed pairing.  So, for example, 10 seeds are historically 22-31 against 2 seeds, so a 10 seed has a 41.5% chance to beat a 2 seed if that is the matchup.

The system isn’t without flaws though.  Many of the entries suffer from a lack of sample size, or instances where no games have ever been played between the two seeds.  Whenever there were less than 3 total games played, I just guessed something close to what the surrounding probabilities were.

My Odds:

WPP plotBecause of the obvious flaw with the historical data, I decided to come up with my own odds.  I gave every seed win probability points (WPPs) according to that seed’s position squared, so a 1 seed gets 256 points (=16²) and a 16 seed gets 1 point (=1²).   Then, the win probability for a given matchup A vs. B is:

 

Nerd stuff

So the probability that a 10 seed beats a 5 seed is .284 or 28.4 percent.

To see how this compares with the historical data, it would make sense to compare the two sets of data for the teams that historically have played the most games, which, intuitively are 1, 2 and 3 seeds.  It turns out that this seems to match up pretty well with the historical data.  winpctplotsThe plots on the right show the historical win percentages versus all 16 seeds in blue and my calculated odds in red.  There are a few data points that do not follow the curve (which may or may not mean anything), but for the most part it seems that my equations fit the trends, and possibly adjust for the lack of sample size from the historical data.

Another interesting view of the matchup odds is shown below.  The image on the left shows the historical odds of each pairing, and the right image shows my calculated odds of each pairing.  Again, you can see that the overall shape of both maps is generally the same, but the map on the right is smoother.

odds maps

The Picks:

Since the games haven’t been played yet, and I have close to zero real basketball insight to offer, I’ll just show my final four teams and national champion from each bracket. Links to the full brackets are below:

My Picks

Final Four: Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia, Duke (boring, I know)

Champion: Kentucky

Total Predicted Upsets: 13

Click here for the entire “My Picks” bracket

 

Coin Flip

Final Four: Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Wyoming, Stephen F Austin

Champion: Wyoming

Total Predicted Upsets: 39

Kentucky made it to the final four only by sheer luck, I swear…

Click here for the entire “Coin Flip” bracket

 

Historical Odds

Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, SDSU

Champion: Oklahoma

Total Predicted Upsets: 11

Click here for the entire “Historical Odds” bracket

 

My Odds

Final Four: Kentucky, Xavier, Providence, Duke

Champion: Kentucky

Total Predicted Upsets: 13

Click here for the entire “My Odds” bracket

 

Come back after the tournament is over to see how the brackets fared.  I’m sure none of them will do well.

 

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SEC Basketball Tournament Viewing Guide: Championship Sunday

Here’s your guide to the SEC Basketball Tournament final game for Sunday, March 15.

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Auburn
1pm ET, ESPN

Let me save you some time: Kentucky is going to win.

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SEC Basketball Tournament Viewing Guide: Saturday

Here’s your guide to the SEC Basketball Tournament semifinal games for Saturday, March 14.

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Auburn
1pm ET, ESPN

Can Auburn (15-19, 4-14 SEC) do the unthinkable and end Kentucky’s quest for a perfect season? Spoiler alert: they cannot, but will play just well enough for just long enough to make you think they can. At that point, the Wildcats (32-0, 18-0 SEC) will go on a 12-0 run and make you regret flipping the channel over from the America East Championship game or whatever other, more interesting, tournament matchup you had settled on (our choice for that, by the way, is to watch Georgia State in the Sun Belt semifinals against UL-Lafayette at 2pm ET on ESPN3). Believe in Bruce Pearl and the process to make Auburn exciting, but the Tigers just don’t have enough firepower to upend Kentucky today.

No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 3 Georgia
3pm ET, ESPN

The best of the rest in the SEC takes center stage Saturday in a game between NCAA Tournament locks Arkansas (25-7, 13-5 SEC) and Georgia (21-10, 11-7 SEC). Each survived a scare in their respective quarterfinal matchups, with the Hogs needing stellar shooting from the free throw line — they went 32/39 for the game — to preserve an 80-72 win over Tennessee and Georgia finishing with a 17-5 run to beat South Carolina for the first time in three tries this season.

Though neither needs the win to get into the big dance, a win would certainly go a long way in helping out their seeding. Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology has Arkansas projected to be a 5-seed and the Bulldogs as a 9-seed. Each could move up a spot or two with a championship appearance — even losing to Kentucky would improve RPI position — and just playing on Sunday while the committee is deciding seeds always seems to provide a small bump.

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SEC Basketball Tournament Viewing Guide: Friday

Here’s your guide to the SEC Basketball Tournament quarterfinal games for Friday, March 13.

No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Florida
12pm ET, SECN

Kentucky (31-0, 18-0 SEC) begins its death-march to the SEC Championship against the same team it finished the regular season with. Florida (16-16, 8-10 SEC), the only higher seed to avoid an upset on Thursday, has scared the Wildcats twice already this season but faded down the stretch each time.

No. 4 LSU vs. No. 13 Auburn
3pm ET, SECN

Auburn (14-19, 4-14 SEC) likely ended Texas A&M’s NCAA Tournament hopes on Thursday, and could do the same to LSU (22-9, 11-7 SEC) today. Bruce Pearl’s team has been thriving off the energetic, frenetic play he is known for, but the Tigers will be a tall task for his roster.

No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Tennessee
7pm ET, SECN

Despite a middling season, the Volunteers (16-15, 7-11 SEC) have been a thorn in the side of more talented squads all year. Arkansas (24-7, 13-5 SEC) is no exception, losing 74-69 in Knoxville and barely surviving in Fayetteville, 69-64.

No. 3 Georgia vs. No 11 South Carolina
10pm ET, SECN

Georgia (20-10, 11-7 SEC) figures to be a tournament lock already, but would love to exorcise its demons against the Gamecocks (17-15, 6-12 SEC). South Carolina thumped the Bulldogs twice this year, and needs a third to extend its season.

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SEC Basketball Tournament Viewing Guide: Thursday

Here’s your guide to the SEC Basketball Tournament games for Thursday, March 12.

No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Alabama
12pm ET, SECN

Ah, the matchup to determine who will be Kentucky’s ritual sacrifice in the next round. Alabama (18-13, 8-10 SEC) looked to be squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble before dropping 10 of its final 16 games, while Florida (15-16, 8-10 SEC) struggled the whole year after losing most of last season’s Final Four roster to graduation. The Gators have been one of the nation’s unluckiest teams, and are probably ready to get their cursed season over with, but Bama still looks promising for an NIT bid. Neither of these teams are beating Kentucky.

No. 5 Texas A&M vs. No. 13 Auburn
3pm ET, SECN

Bruce Pearl leads his Auburn Tigers (13-19, 4-14 SEC) into battle against a Texas A&M team (20-11, 11-7 SEC) that may be on the outside of the bubble looking in following two straight defeats to Florida and Alabama to end its regular season.A&M won the first two matchups between these teams, and desperately needs a third. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi pegs this as a must-win game for the Aggies. The Tigers are playing with house money at this point, and a victory would cement a season that saw the Plainsmen markedly improve under their new head coach.

No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 Tennessee
7pm ET, SECN

Probably the most exciting matchup of the day, these in-state rivals meet for the third time this season. The Volunteers (15-15, 7-11 SEC) took the first matchup in Nashville with Vanderbilt (19-12, 9-9 SEC) returning the favor in Knoxville. The Commodores are the hottest team in the conference not named Kentucky, winning their last five games while shooting over 50% from beyond the arc, and a win likely secures an NIT bid. Tennessee and first-year head coach Donnie Tyndall would love nothing more than to end his rival’s season in their hometown.

No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No 11 South Carolina
10pm ET, SECN

Ole Miss (20-11, 11-7 SEC) returns to Bridgestone Arena, the site of its triumphant 2013 SEC Tournament championship run, looking to solidify a March Madness bid with a win. The Rebels don’t need to win to add to their resume, but losing to the lowly Gamecocks (16-15, 6-12 SEC) would be a black mark on their record — one that Lunardi says they can’t afford.

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Hawks Comin’ For That Number One Spot

Budacris

Our Atlanta Hawks are tearing up the Eastern Conference right now. After blasting the Wizards in Atlanta on Wednesday, they currently sit 8 games atop the East. This wouldn’t be the Dirty South Sports Report if we didn’t celebrate with bad photoshops and an Atlanta rap remix. So, without further delay, presenting Number One Spot by Budacris and the Atlanta Hawks.

**********

Mike Budenholzer:
Yeah baby yeah

Back again
(That’s right)
Coach Buda
(Feel this)
It gets meaner and meaner each time baby
Feelin’ real good too
(Holla at ‘em man)
What up Larry Drew?

I’m like Pop in this industry man
(Tell ‘em)
Some would rather run down and get one player of the month
I think I’d rather walk down and get all five
You know what I’m talkin ’bout right? Look

Mini Me

Jeff Teague:
I’m never goin’ nowhere so don’t try me
My game sticks in fans veins like Royal Ivey
Flows poison like Ivey oh they grimy
Already offers on my 6th season from franchises tryin’ to sign me

Respected highly, hi Mr. Charles Barkley
Hope all is well, kiss Ernie and the wifey
Drove through the lane our spacing supersized me
Now the Bucks see me and a river’s what they cry me

I’m on the rise so many people despise me
Got party ammunition for those tryin’ to surprise me
(Surprise)
It’s a celebration and everyone should invite Teague
Roll with the crew or meet the bottom of our Nikes

Al Horford:
Explorer like Horford these swipers can’t swipe me
My whole aura’s so mean in my black tee
Nobody light-skinded reppin’ harder since Ice-T
You disagree take the Artest approach and fight me

Woah don’t slip up or get got
(Why not man?)
We comin’ for that number one spot
(Alright)
Raptors swearin’ they on top
But we comin’ for they number one spot
(Alright man)

Scheme, scheme, plot, plot
(Say what?)
We comin’ for that number one spot
Keep it goin’ it won’t stop
(What you doin’ Hawks?)
We comin’ for that number one spot

Paul Millsap:
Yes indeed Trillsap I’m hotter than when I was in Utah
Ready to break the will on yo Marcin Gor-tat
If I get caught bail out dish it back to Shroe-dah
In the headlines I never show up like Derrick Rose’s jum-pah

Jumper, jumper, and hey I love gold
But can buy anything I want from the Joe Johnson that D-Ferry sold
Jacuzzi’s hot, Sefalosha is so cold
New York Knicks catch contacts from the and-ones that I’ve rolled

korver gold

Kyle Korver:
A corner trey, a dime and a pancake
Drop threes non-stop, dunk once a year for my fans sake
I crush rims until my hand breaks
Then shoot now and shoot later till these Wizards can’t stand straight

The Sauz-meister got ‘em feelin so randy
I’m in the 50-50-90 club so I call shots my eye candy
Brush my shoulder and I pop my collar
‘Cause I’m worth six million and two hundred fifty thousand dollars

Woah don’t slip up or get got
(Why not man?)
We comin’ for that number one spot
(Alright)
Raptors swearin’ they on top
But we comin’ for they number one spot
(Alright man)

Scheme, scheme, plot, plot
(Say what?)
We comin’ for that number one spot
Keep it goin’ it won’t stop
(What you doin’ Hawks?)
We comin’ for that number one spot

DeMarre Carroll:
Causin’ turnover disasters it’s the master
Make plays for mini-me’s, Junkyard Dogs and fat bastards
These Hornets tryin’ to get me out my position
I pick off my man and tell them “Get out my kitchen”

Stay on the track hit the ground running like Flo-Jo
Sent back in the starting lineup and I’ve never lost my mojo
Ladies and gentlemen ahh boys and girls
DeMarre Carroll sit down and take over the whole world

Woah don’t slip up or get got
(Why not man?)
We comin’ for that number one spot
(Alright)
Raptors swearin’ they on top
But we comin’ for they number one spot
(Alright man)

Scheme, scheme, plot, plot
(Say what?)
We comin’ for that number one spot
Keep it goin’ it won’t stop
(What you doin’ Hawks?)
We comin’ for that number one spot






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Hawks’ Win Streak: Jeff Teague :(

jeff teague

Well, all good things must come to an end, and so much this win streak for the Atlanta Hawks. I’m sure some will use this loss as evidence that the Hawks aren’t ready for the big time just yet — as if losing your first game in 20 tries could possibly be proof of that — but this will have to be a learning experience for the team.

There really isn’t any shame in losing on the road to a team featuring one of the three best players in the NBA, but it never felt like the Hawks were able to play their game in New Orleans tonight. When Jimmer Fredette can get to the rim like Derrick Rose, it’s just not your night.

This is the way the streak ends

This is the way the streak ends

This is the way the streak ends

Not with a bang but a Jimmer.

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Are you sitting down for this? Good. Falcons name Dan Quinn head coach.

dan quinnThe Falcons finally made it official, announcing the hiring of Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the 16th head coach in franchise history. Quinn has led back-to-back No. 1 defenses for Pete Carroll’s team and brings a wealth of defensive experience to Atlanta with him, something the Falcons have badly lacked in recent years.

Let’s cut to the chase, though. Does he know when to use timeouts? Because I trust Matt Ryan and Matt Bryant to win games for us. Just don’t screw us up in the last two minutes and you’ll make the playoffs 50% of the time, Dan. I believe in you.

 

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Hawks’ Win Streak: Pape Sy

pape sy

Sixers made it scary, but on to the next one.

**********

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