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Any truth to this?

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Any truth to this?

Unread postby jb » Sat Mar 17, 2007 10:53 am

http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/news/bla ... hp?id=6571


March 14, 2007
Key to winning? Play bad teams
posted by @ 4:53 pm | comment


Greetings once again, readers.

I have to tell you I truly appreciate you abandoning your NCAA bracket research long enough to read my blawg today. I know how difficult that can be.

If you've spent hours this week analyzing the assists per turnover ratios of Texas A&M and Louisville's point guards, you're not alone. A Chicago-based consulting firm recently calculated that the sports calendar's greatest work distraction will cost employers about $1.2 billion this year.

But don't try too hard. According to the San Francisco Examiner, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. Yes, one in 9 quintillion. By comparison, your odds of winning Mega Millions are 175,711,536 to 1 or about 68 billion times better.

With those numbers, you might as well get back to work.

Meanwhile, I've torn myself away from March Madness for the time being as well to come up with at least one interesting bit of research:

It seems who a team played made quite a notable difference when it came to how well they fared in the NFL in 2006.

Taking a look at the '06 NFL strength of schedule rankings reveals quite an interesting trend. Of the 12 teams in the NFL who finished 9-7 or better in 2006, only one (Denver at 9-7) played opponents with a combined record of better than .500 on the year.

The Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts' opponents were an even 128-128 in '06, while the Chicago Bears' opponents were an NFL-worst 110-146.

The trend follows suit on the opposite end as well. Of the nine teams that finished 6-10 or worse ‘06, only one (Minnesota at 6-10) played opponents with a combined record worse than .500.

The Browns' opponents were 137-119, tied for fourth-best in the NFL.

The Browns' opponents for the upcoming '07 season were 130-126 in '06. However, only four of the team's 13 opponents in '07 finished above .500 in '06: New England, the New York Jets, Baltimore and Seattle.
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Unread postby furls » Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:36 pm

9,223,372,036,854,775,808


This is not even close to right. They make a lot of ridiculous assumptions in coming to this number. If I had some time to do the leg work, I could give you a much better probability.

I recreated this number in about 5 seconds by tracing their faulty assumptions. For the math geeks out there, what they did was considered every event as a "Bernoulli Process" with a probability outcome of 50:50 generating a binomial distribution.

Essentially, the calculation becomes (1/2)*(1/2)*(1/2).... 63 times (in order to eliminate 63 teams there must be 63 games in the tournament and 63 outcomes). This generates a % probability, now take the inverse of that to get the "9,223,372,036,854,775,808:1."

The real flaw is that this method assumes that a 16 seed beating a 1 seed has probability of .50 (50:50 chance). In the 20 some years since expanding the tournament this has never happened. That is 80 trials with 0 successes, that implies (statistically) that the probability of a 16 winning the game is 0 and removes 4 powers of 2 from the answer (divide by 16).

Here is another ridiculous aspect of this "model," it assumes (as a consequence of its probability assumptions) that every team has an even probability of winning the tournament. So basically a 16 seed has the same probability of winning the tournament as a 1 (1 in 64 or 1.5625%).
If I offered you any of the 1 seeds this year at 64:1, would you take it? Hell yeah you would. How about if I offered you a 16 seed (or for that matter an 8 seed at 64:1)?

Now you can also essentially remove the 2/15 matchup because the 2 nearly always wins that, and the same with the 3/14 and the 4/13. These upsets happen, but not anywhere near 50% (I would guess 2/15 happens about 3-5% and the others happen about 10%) of the time.

Now all of a sudden instead of 2^63 we actually have ~ 2^47.

These changes bring the probability down from 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1 all the way to 140,737,488,400,000.

Now this 140 trillion is still a big number but there are more simplifications,
That will bring it down futher, outside of the first round, the odds start getting more difficult to calculate as this begins to expand into a Markovian process, but I think you can agree that 1's do not lose to 8/9's 50% of the time, nor do 2's lose to 7/10's 50% of the time and so on.

Statistics like this are exceptionally deceiving and really piss me off because they seem accurate, but they are not. Not even close. With some research, you could reduce the probabilty much further, but it is not worth it for me to do it.... I don't actually get paid to report truthful and accurate facts by a major network (maybe I should).
Coming from a Wolverine, we're the football equivalent of a formerly abused wife of a meth addict who just remarried the safe nice guy. We're just glad we have someone who's aware that it's a rivalry and that tackling on defense is integral. Baby steps.

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Unread postby wmurphyhh » Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:28 pm

Furls, I'm sure you are right, but that's way TOO complicated for these message boards... :-) :smile: :)
Just enjoy the games!
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Unread postby jfiling » Sat Mar 17, 2007 2:36 pm

Right, the number only works if you have a gorilla throwing darts to picks the teams, which would have a 1 in 2^63 chance of getting all teams right. A little intelligent selection followed by luck can bring that number down, but the number reported in that newspaper article is right up there with those Shakespeare-typing monkeys.
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Unread postby HoodooMan » Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:30 am

Key to winning? Play bad teams

I think you can narrow it further than that.

Key to winning? Don't suck, and play the NFC North.

In 2006, the NFC North helped make two teams into playoff participants: the 12-4 Patriots (4-0 against the NFCN), and the 10-6 Jets (3-1 against the NFCN; the one loss being to Chicago). Seattle made it to the playoffs, but just barely, after having only gone 2-2 against the NFCN. Of course, the 13-3 Chicago Bears benefited from this as well, going 5-1 in NFCN play.

In 2005: the 11-5 Steelers (4-0 against the NFCN), the 11-5 Bengals (4-0 against the NFCN), the 11-5 Panthers (3-1 against the NFCN; the one loss being to Chicago), and the 11-5 Bucs (3-1 against the NFCN; the one loss being to Chicago). The 11-5 Chicago Bears: 5-1 in NFCN play.

In 2004, before the emergence of the Chicago Bears: the 12-4 Colts (4-0 against the NFCN) and the 13-3 Eagles (4-0 against the NFCN). The 9-7 Jaguars nearly made it in after going 3-1 against the NFCN. And the 10-6 Packers took the division crown after going 5-1 in NFCN play.

In 2003: the 13-3 Chiefs (3-1 against the NFCN), the 10-6 Broncos (shockingly only a 1-3 record agaisnt the NFNC), the 12-4 Rams (3-1 against the NFCN), the 10-6 Seahawks (only 2-2 against the NFCN). The 10-6 Packers: 5-1 in NFCN play.

Screw 2008, man. 2009 is when we get to play the NFCN again.
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Unread postby jb » Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:45 am

Yo Furls, I didn't know you were like, smart anmd stuff.

SAN DIEMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!
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Unread postby furls » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:58 am

Here is my 15 minute model of this problem which generated a much more plausible probability. It is not without its flaws but it is much better than what these rejects did. I studied a branch of Math at Ohio State that deals heavily in probability and statistics.

viewtopic.php?t=1615
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Unread postby swerb » Sun Mar 18, 2007 12:49 pm

Interesting stuff. Both in the initial column posted by JB, and on the NFC North.

There's so much parity in the NFL now. So many more games (at least seemingly) are there for the taking for both teams with 7-8 minutes left. And in a league where the difference between 10-6 and 6-10 is shrinking each year seemingly, SOS is a big factor in my view.
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