Friday, October 30, 2015

No surprises yet

I saw a couple beat writers post that the Badgers White team at practice was made up of Hayes, Happ, Brown, Koenig and Showalter. Red team was Hill, Thomas, Illikainen, Van Vilet, and Iverson.

Rumor is that Showy has worked on his jump shot. He has never had much of one before and I have never been much of a Showy fan for that reason. If he can just be an OK shooter (maybe 30-33% from 3) and continue his effort on D, and fearlessness going to the rim, he could be OK. My hope was that Pritzl would be good enough to play right away at the 2 to give the Badgers more shooters, but that obviously is not the case. Maybe if he recovers from injury he could still be that guy by the end of the year, but who knows.

I hope they start Nigel at the 3, although I'm sure he will get plenty of minutes at the 4-5 too. I have not heard a mention of Dearing making any plays in practices, so it's not much of a surprise he is not in the top 10. We'll see if he looks any better against UW river falls. It will be fun to see the team get at it again this year.

Can't wait for Wednesday.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


I know some people will remember this unfortunate post from long ago, but I am not a Stave hater. I don't think Houston should take over the starting job, I am just very pleased with what I saw on Saturday from Houston. 

Here's what I like the best about what I saw. Probably not what you are thinking. 

Play-by-Play Summary (1st quarter) Wisconsin vs Illinois (Oct 24, 2015 at Champaign, Ill.)

WISCONSIN drive start at 09:52.
1-10 WIS 29 Ogunbowale, D. rush for 2 yards to the WIS31 (Barton,Taylor), PENALTY WIS illegal block (Deiter, Michael) 15 yards to the WIS16. 1-23 WIS 16 1st and 23. 1-23 WIS 16 Stave, Joel pass incomplete to Ogunbowale, D.. 2-23 WIS 16 Stave, Joel sacked for loss of 4 yards to the WIS12 (Phillips,C.). Wisconsin 2 (QB) injured on the last play. 3-27 WIS 12 Houston, Bart sacked for loss of 3 yards to the WIS9 (Phillips,C.). 4-30 WIS 09 Meyer, Drew punt 37 yards to the WIS46, Bentley, V. return 9 yards to the WIS37

To summarize: Their starting quarterback got hit on every drop he took including the one he got hurt on. Their running back got stuffed both attempts he got. They are facing a 3rd and 27 from their own 12 yard line. Bart Houston (who has never thrown a pass in conference play and has never been in a meaningful game since he was in high school 4 years ago) is under center. Paul Chryst dials up a pass play. 

In the moment while Houston was getting sacked, I said to myself, what are you thinking. Why not run a draw, let Mcvoy run a wildcat play, or do anything else but throw it and let your backup QB have the chance to make a huge mistake. 

Turns out Chryst had a ton of confidence in his backup QB. Also turns out maybe he had pretty good reason to, after Houston lead UW to a road win in conference play. 

I like that. I like that Chryst has confidence in his guys. Chryst may never be an electric personality or fun to watch in a press conference, but his players will feed off of that type of confidence more than any bluster or bravado he might lack. 

I hope Stave is OK and we don't get to watch Houston play again until next year. If we do I am not as scared that there is a total void behind Stave. It gives me comfort to know there is a guy who can start at QB next year so we don't have to force an underclassman QB on to a stage he isn't ready for. 

UW is in good hands at QB, and Chryst is making me a believer that UW is in good hands with it's coach too. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

T-Rank Team Pages: T-Pages

So I've been learning a little "programming." That's what we called it back when I used to know something about computers. Talking early 90s here.

Nowadays they call it coding. Whatevs.

Anyhow, I've added a feature to the T-Rank, which is a page for each team — just click on the team names and you'll get what I'm calling a T-Page™. It will update automatically (more or less) as I update the T-Rank throughout the season.

I plan to add features to the T-Pages in the coming ... years.

Here's the Badgers' T-Page.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bucks at Kohl

It appears I have been neglecting this blog so I will put something up today. No metrics here. Just good old fashioned human observation.

I went to the Bucks preseason game at the Kohl Center tonight. A few observations.

1) It is amazing how small the Kohl Center court looks with NBA players of massive size and length. We had lower section seats about 20 rows up and the court looks small with those giants out there. The windows they have to fit passes into with all the length is tiny. It gives you an appreciation for the difference between the college and NBA game to watch it on a court I am so familiar with.

2) It was fun to watch the crowd boo every time Tyus Jones touched the ball (he was 1-4 with a TO and only 1 assist).

3) It was fun to watch Marcus Landry get some time as a Milwaukee pro on the old home court. (he was 2-3 for 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks). He only has an outside chance of making the roster, but it's always good to see Badgers get their chance in the pros.

4) It was very sweet to hear the crowd chant 38 and 1, every time Karl Anthony Towns touched the ball.

I may have to watch the UW vs. Kentucky game this weekend that has been sitting on my DVR. Only about 2 weeks until the first game. Can't wait.

Friday, October 9, 2015

T-Rank: Mid-Major contenders

Mid-Major Madness is out with a poll of the Top 15 mid-majors (as they define "mid-major") teams for the upcoming season.

For what it's worth, here's the T-Rank's Top 15 mid-majors:


BYU. The mid-major experts are much higher on BYU than the T-Rank, ranking them 3d of the MMs while T-Rank has BYU a bubble team at best. BYU is always a tough team to rank by algorithm, given that they have guys coming back from missions and stuff like that. But they lose 50% of their minutes from last year's squad, including star Tyler Haws. And 9 of their 15 players are newcomers to the program. Should be interesting. Here's a nice article on their team.

Rhode Island. The experts are high on the Rams, voting them the No. 5 mid-major. Rhode Island is coming off a good year, in which they finished 56th in the Kenpom and 60th in the T-Rank. They also finished 3rd in a resurgent A-10. Dan Hurley hopes to continue his turnaround project (they've moved up from 193 to 103 to 56 in the Kenpom in his three years). T-Rank recognizes the momentum, but it's hard to algorithm-out those sub-100 years. I think the T-Rank is too probably too low.

George Washington. T-Rank has them 8th, while the experts put the 18th (third in the "also receiving votes" category.) GW returns three of last year's starters, a solid core, but suffer a blow with the transfer of Kethan Savage (headed to Butler). On the other hand they bring in Tyler Cavanagh from Wake Forest.

VCU. T-Rank doesn't know that Shaka Smart isn't at VCU anymore, which probably explains why it has them significantly higher rated than the experts.

Old Dominion. This is another team on the rise under a new coach, and the experts put them 10th among mid-majors. Jeff Jones inherited a team that had finished 267th in the Kenpom the previous year. In his two years at the helm, the Monarchs have risen to 170 and 56. This gives them the third best "momentum" score in all the land. Even with that, they come in at 100th in the T-Rank. Probably too low.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Stuff happens

The Badgers utterly dominated Iowa in the second half of yesterday's game, out-gaining them 189 to 68. Iowa never even sniffed a scoring chance.

Yet the Badgers managed to win the half just 3-0, and lost the game 10-6. Stuff happens.

Overall, the Badgers out-gained Iowa 320-221. Since 2000, when the Badgers have out-gained an opponent by 99 yards or more, they are 77-8 (including yesterday's loss).

Even looking at the halo around a 99-yard advantage: when the Badgers have out-gained an opponent by 49-149 yards since 2000 they are 38-9 (including yesterday's loss).

The point is, today's game was a freak out. Stuff happens.

Obviously, Wisconsin is not a great football team this year. But they aren't some sad sack bunch of shit bags either. They had a bad, unlucky day, and when mediocre teams have bad, unlucky days they lose to decent opponents.

But I'm seeing otherwise smart people actually call for Tanner McEvoy to be inserted at Quarterback.

Honestly, this makes me despair. How can democracy be a viable form of government when there are reasonable people calling for Tanner McEvoy to be inserted at Quarterback?

Friday, October 2, 2015

In defense of the BPI, etc.

In the past couple of years, ESPN has come out with some proprietary "advanced metrics." These include the "Total QBR" for rating QB play in football, the FPI, or "football power index," for rating football teams, and the BPI, or basketball power index, for rating college basketball teams.

A lot of the folks I engage with on Twitter like to lampoon these metrics, mainly on the notion that they are "black boxes"—that is, we don't know how they're calculated, so we can't really evaluate them. Thus, they are entitled to no respect.

I certainly agree with the notion that power ratings should tell us how they work, at least in general terms. But both the FPI and the BPI are actually pretty open, or at least can be figured out rather easily.  And it's not like other rating systems, such as Ken Pomeroy's ratings, are completely open about how their calculations are made. As with the BPI, Kenpom tells us what he considers in general terms, but the exact weights and calculations are his special formula.

Looking specifically at BPI, it is very clear that it is a Kenpom-style per-possession-efficiency rating system with basically one twist: it adjusts the weight of individual games based on whether one or both of the teams was at less than full strength. So, for example, when Rutgers beat Wisconsin with Frank Kaminsky sitting on the bench, they didn't get "full credit" for the win. Instead, the BPI only counted that game as .832 of a game because of Frank's injury. This is all open and published.

ESPN doesn't explain exactly how they came up with that number of .832 to account for Frank sitting out. But that's fine. Kenpom doesn't explain exactly how he discounts blowout mismatches, or exactly how much more weight he gives to recent games.

In the end, BPI and Kenpom (and T-Rank) come up with very similar results. For example, here's the top 20 of last year's BPI, with their T-Rank and Kenpom rank also listed:

BPI TeamName KenPom Trank
1 Kentucky 1 1
2 Wisconsin 3 3
3 Arizona 2 2
4 Virginia 5 4
5 Villanova 6 6
6 Duke 4 5
7 Gonzaga 7 8
8 Kansas 14 12
9 Notre Dame 9 11
10 Utah 8 7
11 North Carolina 11 9
12 Wichita St. 10 16
13 Oklahoma 13 10
14 Northern Iowa 12 22
15 Louisville 16 17
16 Iowa St. 18 18
17 Ohio St. 21 14
18 Michigan St. 15 15
19 Baylor 17 13
20 Butler 20 19

A lot of agreement there, and this holds true for most teams.

The fun thing about a power rating like BPI (or T-Rank) is that it allows one to give probabilities of various events happening, and estimate points spreads for hypothetical or far-off matchups. I think it's cool that T-Rank Pure can currently give you a prediction of about 5,000 upcoming college basketball games, and ESPN can do the same thing with BPI. Given that we basically know what the BPI is, except for minor details, I think the lampooning is unwarranted.