Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Any given Sunday"

I'm concerned watching the talking heads: all seem to believe that McCain has lost already.
He hasn't.
It's a week too early to celebrate.

Both pro and college football teams underperform the point-spread every weekend - with heavy favorites losing not just to the spread, but losing the game.

Tonight's Rachel Maddow show featured an amusing, extended football metaphor. Rachel began by noting that football was a game of statistics: time of possession, yards passing, yards rushing, number of turnovers... BUT: that the only thing that matters at the end of the game is the final score.
A team can dominate another statistically and still lose.

An amusing semi-personal story... well, actually, an amusing personal story related by a friend & former colleague of mine:
(warning: this is one of my "remembered quotations", so I may not get the details quite right).
Statistician colleague Mark wrote his Master's thesis on college basketball, attempting to develop a model to pick winners based on game stats.

His surprising finding? The single most predictive statistic was which team scored the most points!
Folks - it's about a week too soon to celebrate.


p.s. full-disclosure: friend & former colleague Mark is one of my conservative friends... and one of two with whom I manage to conduct civil political discussions.

p.p.s. Lee Corso - ESPN sports commentator - got it right:
When asked what what it would take for OU to beat Mizzou in last year's Big 12 Championship game:
"Oklahoma's gonna have to outscore 'em!"

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