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Jim Colton, 2008 Masters Champion?

4/27/2007 0 comments
Watching the bloodbath that was Saturday at Augusta this year, I couldn't help but ask myself the same question that was going through many viewer's minds that day: 'If these guys are barely breaking 80, what the heck would I shoot out there?' It's a scary question with probably an even scarier answer.

Ever since Tiger decimated the course in 1997, the powers that be have been tweaking the course almost every year to make it tougher. New tee boxes here, add some pine trees there, grow in a little rough...sorry, second cut, and you have a completely different golf course. The net result is that you will go to your grave and no one will have even sneezed at Tiger's -18 record, not even Eldrick himself.

Although they've been making these changes over the last 10 years, nearly every year the tournament has seen some rain and the course has never showed it's true colors. We've never seen how hard the course could play under firm, fast and windy conditions. That was until 2007. And we all know how that turned out. Is this the Masters or the US Open?

Usually when a change occurs as a reaction to some extreme event (Tiger in 1997), the pendulum swings too far in the other direction. I suspect that they will make some changes to make the course a little more playable...probably by removing some trees. Part of what makes the Masters so great are the birdie/eagle opportunities coming down the stretch at 13 and 15. But it certainly seemed like far fewer golfers were going for those greens in two. The right balance for a good par 5 is a drive that puts the golfer right in that go/no-go range, where he's forced to make a tough risk-reward decision.

The reason I bring up Augusta is because as of yesterday, the wheels have been put in motion. There is a chance that I could be playing in the 2008 Masters.

A trillion-to-one chance. But a chance nonetheless.

You see, yesterday my buddy Jefe and I sent in our applications to play in the 2007 USGA Mid-Amateur, which is this September at Bandon Dunes. The winner of the Mid-Am (as well as the winners of the USGA Pub Links, British Amateur and finalists in the US Amateur) gets an invite to the Masters the following year. Perhaps you may have noticed Dave Womack and his 84-81 flash across the screen during this year's telecast. He was the 2006 Mid-Am champion.

So all I have to do is finish in the top 4 or 5 out of approximately 140 at my sectional qualifying site, finish in the top 64 for 36 holes against 240 of the best 25-and-over amateur golfers in the country, then win six grueling match-play matches. Like I said...trillion-to-one. But that's one-trillionth better than if I hadn't entered at all.

In all honesty, the primary reason that I've signed up for the Mid-Am is not for the (extremely remote) chance to play Augusta, it's for (definite) chance to play Rich Harvest Links, the site of the sectional qualifying. This ultra-private course was once the personal playground to ultra-rich Jerry Rich, and is now open to a handful of members (Michael Jordan is one of them). Rich Harvest was recently named the host of the 2009 Solheim Cup. I've been dying to get a chance to play there.

Most of what I've gathered about Rich Harvest is half-fact, half-folklore. Conditioning on par or better to Augusta. Holes that can play as par 3's, 4's, or 5's. Very few have seen the course, far fewer have had the opportunity to actually play it. My buddy Jimbo (Jefe's brother) was actually considering taking a job as the psuedo-caddie master out there this summer. It eventually didn't pan out, but last weekend he looped out there. His summation...Jefe and I would have a hard time breaking 100! Here's Jimbo's own words:

"The one course that I would compare Rich Harvest to, and I know you guys will drool over this comparion, is The River Course at Blackwolf Run. Rich Harvest is basically 18 holes of sensory overload. Every hole has a lot going on; lakes, ponds, doglegs, narrow shoots through trees, covered bridges, arching bridges, streams, bunkers, alternate tee boxes, alternate fairways, split fairways, multiple holes that can be played as par 4's or par 5's. There is not one hole I can think of that is a breather hole. The course is unrelenting, from start to finish. The MIDDLE TEES are at 7000 yards. There is only one par 4 under 400 yards. I thought there was a lot of Pete Dye in the course.

The main defense of the course is asking the player to hit long, very accurate tee shots. To score here you MUST drive the ball exceptionally well. Yes the course is wooded and many holes are cut through the trees. But there are many open holes out of the forest as well. Almost all of the landing areas are pinched by bunkers or trees or water. There are a couple of forced carries and one or two blind shots, but for the most part the course is right there in front of you. What makes the course so demanding off the tee is the rough. The rough was the most penal rough I HAVE EVER SEEN.. It wasn't even that tall, maybe 4 inches. But it was incredibly thick. Usually the ball would sink down to the bottom of the rough. Multiple times during the round I tracked my players ball into the rough, got to the point where I thought it was, then spent 3 minutes looking for it. You basically had to be right on top of the ball in order to see it. A caddie I was working with who was in his 7th season had the same problems finding balls in the rough.

The greens are fronted by either bunkers or water. You cannot run the ball up on the green. You must carry the ball to the green on most holes. The greens are both small and huge. They have a ton of slope and have very subtle breaks. They are ULTRA FAST. They are also incredibly true.

The course is not tricked up, there are no gimmicks. You just have to hit quality golf shot after quality golf shot. It is just a very hard golf course. It is also not an easy couse to walk. Many tee boxes are are long walk off from the previous green. There is not a lot of flow to the course, the layout is broken up. One hole is here, another a half mile over there, etc. The course is in incredible shape. Every part of the course was super conditioned.

You might think I am overstating the brutality the course. I am not. I have no idea what the USGA will do to it or how they will set it up, but they can make it as mean as they want to."


Yikes! Maybe a trillion-to-one is overly optimistic. Still, Jim Colton, 2008 Masters Champion has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? And if it were to somehow happen, I think it would be the first time Jim Nantz was left speechless. And you thought Zach Johnson was a no-namer.

Don't hold your breath, but stay tuned. It should be an interesting summer as I try to get my game in shape to perform well this September. And just for the record...my jacket size is 42 Long, and we'd be having Portillo's at the Champions Dinner.

Fantasy Hoops: Season Recap

4/19/2007 0 comments
The 2006-07 NBA Fantasy season is in the books. The last week of the season couldn't have gone any worse for me than it did. I entered the final week of the season with 18 of my 44 leagues in the bag (up 8 points or more in the standings) and 10 leagues that were still up in the air and could go either way. So it looked like I was staring at least 22-23 wins depending how the week shook out.

If you had a bell curve on the expected number of wins going into the last week...it would range from 18-28, and my actual performance would be on the far left side of that bell curve. Out of those 10 leagues, I managed just one tie! That's it. It really just boils down to bad luck. I could've just as easily ended up on the opposite end of the curve and won 27.

I set my line-ups a week ago Monday and hoped for the best. My guys just didn't deliver. I tried to play close attention to the playoff races, tanking, guys getting shut down or rested and set-my line-ups accordingly. The last week is always going to be a down week on performance...on average fantasy teams performed about 18% worse than my initial projections of a 'normal' week. My guys performed 26% worse than projected. Guys like Jason Hart (7 games), Tim Thomas (7 games), Renaldo Balkman (New York out of it, David Lee injured) and DeShawn Stevenson (6 games, Arenas/Butler injured) looked like safe, smart starts. None of them delivered, and particularly frustrating was Balkman, who looked like a shoe-in to get some serious burn but didn't play a game all week due to a stomach virus (that must've been some virus).

Combine that with tanking/shut-down by a host of players, and it killed my week. Kevin Garnett and Andre Iguodala hurt me the most. Garnett was very frustrating...I was a little cautious about him given that he sat out the last few games last year, but I was misguided by some comments that he made to the effect of 'We've got 10 games left and I'm going to play 10 games like they are my last.' Sounded good at the time. To bad he did a 180 a week later, in an obvious tank move orchestrated by Kevin McHale, saying something like 'after talking to the doctors and GM, I've realized that this quad injury is far worse than I thought. I've been dealing with it for a couple months now.' Really? Garnett hadn't missed a game all year! In related news, Minnesota has a top 10 protected draft pick this year, otherwise they have to give it away. Let's hope for everybody's sake that Garnett gets traded to a contending team without a brain-dead GM during the offseason.

It really is amazing how razor thin the difference between winning and losing can be...check out these four leagues that I could've just as easily won, in order from least agonizing to most agonizing.

Spencers31 - 2 pts behind in the standings, ended up tied in 3PM, 1 block behind 2 teams, 7 assist behind, 16 rebounds behind and just behind in FGP. I had a 3-pt lead going into the final night and ended up 2 pts behind.

Spencers03 - finished 4 pts back, but 5 3PM would've gotten me a tie.

Spencers36 - The one league I tied...however just 1 3PM, 1 block or 7 assists and I win outright.

Spencers07 - finished 1 point back. The difference came down to ONE FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT. One more make or one less miss, and I earn a tie. And two makes or misses and I win outright. It was that close. Check it out:

Who's in First: 4503/9605 - 46.882%
Top Flight: 4058/8656 - 46.881%
Spencers 4539/9683 46.876%
9,683 field goal attempts and if it was 9,681 I would be $600 richer. Unbelievable. Tracking the games last night, I thought I was in good shape. Until Stephen Jackson (on Top Flight) decided to come into the game and score 3 garbage buckets last night to seal my fate. Stephen Jackson!!! Don't be surprised if you soon find ME outside a strip club shooting guns into the air.

Spencers30 - I don't even want to get into it again, but the 'powers that be' reversed one of my trades after the fact and after the trade deadline. It was Caron Butler for Tim Duncan. My buddy Ron from CBS couldn't grasp that Butler was actually a superior fantasy player at the time than Duncan, or that a roto-team with needs in FTP and STLS and surplus in REB and BLKS might actually value Butler over Duncan (despite hordes of evidence showing it was fair, and perhaps even most compelling, the SAME deal made in TWO other leagues). So I ended up winning FTP by like 3.5% lost out on some easy points in BLKS and REB and failed to win this league when I should've won it going it away. And in a cruel twist of fate, the season ended with Butler ranked 17th and Duncan 18th.

Like I said...I don't even want to go into it. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil. I could write a scathing post just on this topic alone, but I want to ensure that my check actually gets in the mail (in true Big Brother fashion, CBS could easily get away with not sending me a dime.) Instead, just go fantasybasketballcafe.com and check out the discussion about this deal and draw your own conclusions.

And at the end of the day, all I can say is 'Oh Well'. I don't play poker, but I think this is what they call a 'bad beat'. Everybody has them, and most people don't want to hear about it. Last year, the last night worked out perfectly in my favor and I won 5 out of 6 leagues, 4 of them were still up in the air. This year, it was the exact opposite.

And in the end, I will be getting a nice little check from CBS of over $12,000, which is 12 grand more than I had yesterday. So I guess I don't have much to complain about. I plan on putting hald of that into my (soon-to-be) three kids college 529 plans, meaning I could be the first person to fund his kids education through fantasy basketball.

And despite my bad luck this year, I firmly believe that I can win at least 60-70% of these leagues in the long run. 2006-07 was the year of the injury, and injuries are the great equalizer in fantasy hoops. Unique to this season was that most of the injuries were to the elite fantasy players (the same ones I work to compile), many of whom are traditionally very sturdy (Iguodala, Joe Johnson, etc). Not much you can do about that. But I do believe I can fold in some of the things I learned this year into next year.

Last year, I did a detailed analysis on the key drivers of fantasy success, looking at the role of drafting, trading, and roster/line-up moves in my 6 leagues. With 44 teams, it might be too burdensome to do the same level of analysis this time around. But if I can figure out some way to streamline it and still make it informative, I'll put it up here.

Only six months until the NBA live drafts for 2007-08 start!

Winner Winner, Chicken (Burrito) Dinner

4/16/2007 3 comments
With half of the NBA in full-tank mode and others resting their starters in preparation for the playoffs, and with March Madness nothing but a distant memory (who won again?), perhaps the most compelling basketball action in the country Sunday night occured in a small grade-school gynasium on the rugged east side of Geneva, IL, where the remnants of a team formerly known as Team Wegobomber battled a squad called Old Towne Tavern in the Geneva Park District Men's Spring 'A' League in the first week of a 8-game season.

Yours truly is one of original members of Team Wegobomber, a once-proud organization that can now only be described as the Buffalo Bills of the Geneva Park District League winter league (14 games from October through March with playoffs at the end). I've been playing off and on since graduating from college in 1996, and in those 11 years we've won the regular season title 8 or 9 times. And guess how many playoff titles do we have? The same as you. Zero. This year was no exception. We rolled through the regular season with a 14-2 record and the number one seed, only to get trounced in the finals. Another year, another bitter disappointment.

For the first time, the Park District put together a mini-spring league, so our fearless leader Matt Haiduk (the Duker) jumped at this small shot at redemption so he may someday hopefully die in peace. Duker is probably the only guy on the team that pours his heart more into this league than I do. It's simply not healthy. For his sake, I hope we win this thing sooner or later. Me? I just want to win so I can end on a high note. One league title and I'm riding off into the sunset...it may be 20 years from now in a 50 years and over co-ed half court league, but I'll take it.

The other difference between Duker and I is that Duker has real basketball talent. He jumps higher than any white guy I know, and is a legitimate threat to throw one down in any given game. The highlights of the season for me are the games where we're up by 25 with 2 minutes to go and Duker gives me 'the look'...the look that says 'throw me the oop when you get the chance'. We've yet to connect on one of those, but it's not for a lack of trying.

So what's my role? I'm the glue guy. Start with Shane Battier, shorten him to 6' 2", remove the Duke background (thank you very much), surgically remove Dickie V's lips from his backside, shave off about $5.2 million of his salary and at least 95% of his basketball talent and you're left with Jim Colton. But Shane's got nothing on my heart and hustle. Now if I could only get some of those charge calls to go my way. My stat line reads something like this: 5-6 pts, 5-6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and maybe 0.5 3's per game. Clearly nothing to brag about, but hopefully I bring more than what shows up in the boxscore.

The one downside about this spring league is that it is going to seriously conflict with my golf game. For the last 11 years, my sporting life has been in perfect harmony. November through March is nothing but Wegobomber basketball. April through October is nothing but golf. Now we've got overlap. Although it's hardly been an issue this spring since as of three days ago there was still snow on the ground. In an act of desperation, I managed to do both yesterday. Since the gym and my home course are only about 2 miles apart, I played a quick 9 holes at 4:00 pm and headed straight to the gym about 10 minutes before our 6:00 game. Beautiful. Too bad it was so cold and windy out on the course that I couldn't feel my face. Like I said...desperation.

The good news is we only had 4 other guys show up so immediately after lugging a 30-pound bag around for 2 1/2 miles in 25 degree wind chill, I now had to play a full 40 minutes on some very unforgiving Harrison Street school rims that looked like they hadn't been changed since I went to school there. There was at least a 5% chance that I was going to collapse and die in the next hour. Thankfully, the other team only started out with 5 as well.

You'd think that playing with basically the same group of guys for the last 11 years, we would've developed some intricate offensive sets by now. Nope. Our offense is built around one thought and one thought only...'Get Marc The Ball'. For the most part we've had great success in this executing this strategy...even at 43 years old Marc is still the Michael Jordan of the league. He probably averages 35-points per game (no, we don't keep stats. We're not that crazy. Okay...we used to keep stats but we don't anymore).

Over the years, I've done a pretty good job of getting Marc the Ball. The guy is probably responsible for 65% of my assist totals. Have you ever noticed Brian Cook when he's on the floor with Kobe? Cook doesn't have the ball more than than half a second before he's looking for Kobe. He learned a long time ago where his bread was buttered. And in related news, Brian Cook signed a 3-year, $10.5 million contract last offseason. He's no dummy.

Okay, so I'm a poor man's cross between Shane Battier and Brian Cook. And in the first half, I actually played pretty well. After missing badly on my first two shot attempts, I buried a 3-ball from the corner, had a nice little drive to the bucket and a few nice touch passes for 8 pts in the first half as we led 37-31 at halftime.

Our opponents must've been working the phone lines because they had a 6th guy show up at halftime. In the world of mens rec league basketball, an extra body can make all the difference in the world. It really doesn't matter how good he is. Despite this new disadvantage, we did manage to pull away early in the second half, getting the lead out to 13 pts with about 5 minutes left. But these guys hung tough, hitting some clutch threes and a couple of 'And Ones' to shave the lead down to two. With the score 77-75 with less than a minute left, Marc missed the front end of a one-and-one, and they marched down with a lay-up to tie the game up.

We played for one, and you can guess who was going to take the last shot. Marc drove to the hoop with just a few seconds left, pulled-up for a 10-foot jumper but was well-defended (the refes swallowed their whistles) and ended up shooting an air ball that went out of bounds with just 1.1 seconds left. Old Towne called a timeout to draw up their potential game winning play, as we were legitimately just hoping for overtime.

Whatever play they drew up, I don't think this was it: try to throw it your point guard (the new guy) on the run, throw it behind him and watch the ball sail out of bounds untouched. Either way, that is exactly was happened. Of course, that meant we'd get the ball back right under the basket. So we called a timeout and drew up our play...set a double screen curl for Marc but have him try to cut it back under the hoop for an easy score.

Do you know that feeling when everyone in the whole gym knows who's going to get the ball? Well, that's exactly what happened here. Guys on the other team were screaming, 'Don't let HIM get the ball', pointing to Marc. There was some confusion on our part on who was supposed to set the double screen, so to play it safe the double screen turned into a triple screen. The guy guarding Marc played the low side well so there was no opportunity for the back cut.

Then a funny thing happened. After setting my screen (although I may have set the screen on Duker, I'm not sure. I do know that I layed a mean pick on somebody), I turned around and there was literally nothing but daylight between me and the basket. It was like Moses had parted the Red Sea. After screaming 'Chris!!!' (the inbounder) at the top of my lungs, he passed it to me and I went up for the uncontested layup. As the team's career leader in missed bunnies, this was still no guarantee. But by the grace of God, the ball went through the net as the buzzer sounded for my 13th and 14th points of the game, and far more importantly, a 79-77 Wegobomber victory!

That puts me about 25 buzzer beaters behind Michael Jordan. But it's a start. In my head, I could just imagine Wayne Larivee saying 'A game-winning basket from the most unlikely of sources!!!'

As we celebrated with our traditional postgame Chipotle, I couldn't help but share the following thought with Duker. I didn't know whether to be elated that I hit the game-winner or to be ashamed that a buzzer beater in a mens rec league game is and probably will be the crowning achievement of my basketball career (not to mention my single biggest accomplishment in that gymnasium since I dominated dodge ball back in 5th grade. Back in the day, we called it Bombardment. I was a dodge ball prodigy. By the way, I'm sure that elementary physical education has evolved over the last 20 years, but when I was in grade school we had this grumpy old gym teach named Mr. Bashaw and our PE curriculum was fully comprised of two units: Bombardment and Kick-Soccer-Baseball. That's literally ALL we ever did. Not that I'm complaining.)

Thinking about it some more...I think I'll stick with elation. It quite possible that my basketball career has officially peaked and it's all downhill from here. I'm fine with that. We all have to top off somewhere. Next week, I'm playing in a qualifier for the Illinois State Mid-Am golf championship...it could be the case that simply qualifying, not winning, but qualifying is the crowning moment of my tournament golf career. I'm fine with that too, just as I'm sure Zach Johnson would be perfectly content if he never won another golf tournament in his life. David Duval may never get his game anywhere near back where it once was, but that doesn't mean he has to give back his British Open victory.

So chances are this is the last time you get to hear about my basketball exploits. At least until we win that 50+ Co-Ed half-court league twenty years from now. Stay tuned.

[Note: I'd love to hear about your memorable game winners in the comment section, even if it back in 5th grade. Organized ball only.]

2006-07 Fantasy Hoops: Projection Comparison

4/13/2007 0 comments
Now that the season is winding down, it's time to pay the piper. If you play fantasy hoops, prior to your draft you probably utilized or looked at 'expert' rankings or player projections that are out there and readily available. You may have even paid for them. But how do you know if those projections are even worth the paper that their printed on? Since I'm all for the level of accountability expresed last year by my hero Matthew Berry, aka the Talented Mr. Roto, and since half of the fantasy-worthy players in the NBA have decided to take the last week of the season off, let's see how good these prognostications really are.

I did the same thing back in October 2006 to compare how well various projections did for the 2005-06 season. In that analysis, I looked at how well each projection did against a simple benchmark of just using the prior year's per game data. This is the starting point for any projection. Any time a projection deviates from the prior year numbers, you have to assume that the prognositicator has a good reason for moving that number. Because of this, we can measure how well a given projection does relative to the benchmark in each category...or put another way, how much information value does each projection provide on average.

The 2005-06 results showed that two projections...Rotowire.com (which you had to pay for) and CBS Sportsline actually performed worse than the prior year numbers. That's hard to do. Basketballmonster.com and NBA.com (provided by Talented Mr Roto) performed just slightly better than the previous year's data, and my initial projections were about 5% better than any of the competitors.

So let's see how well everybody did this year. For the projections, I looked at a dataset of 230 players that were common to each projection set. For each category, the error between the actual and projection was squared (hence, the term sum of squared errors!) and summed for the 230 player pool. Each projection was compared relative to the benchmark 2005-06 per game data...the benchmark was converted into an index equal to 100. A projection with a rating of 80 shows the projection provided a 20% improvement in that category relative to the benchmark. [Note: for 8 rookies the consensus view of 7 projections (my original plus the others) was used.]

Here are the candidates (if you know of others, send them in and I'll add them to the mix):

Jim - Original: My original projections dated October 24, 2006 and available for free
Jim - Preseason: Based on an analysis I did here, I adjusted my projections based on player-by-player preseason numbers
Jim - Global Preseason: In the same analysis, I made global adjustments based on overall preseason trends. Designed to account for changes caused by the much ballyhooed new game ball.
CBS Sportsline: Free projections available with their fantasy package.
Rotofreak.com: Free projections from a dude with a website
Fantasy Sports Central: Free projections
THE Talented Mr Roto: You have to pay $9.99 for a draft kit to get these projections.
Basketballmonster.com: You get the projections if you pay $12 for full-access to their site features (well worth it in my book).
Rotowire.Com: More pay-for-projections. I think these are $14.99. This is what you get if you sign-up for Yahoo's draft kit.

And here are the results:

_PROJECTION__MIN_ _FG%__FT%__3PM_ _PTS__REB__AST_ _STL__BLK__AVG_
JIM-PRE75.4 65.588.182.3 71.681.865.7 79.192.578.3
JIM-GLOB75.468.689.1 84.274.682.867.278.7 85.978.9
JIM-ORIG75.466.691.3 83.572.481.566.2 79.894.079.4
FREAK 72.095.1 101.478.189.968.5 78.3102.685.7
CENTRAL78.878.4103.0 79.482.283.574.6 127.098.890.9
MONSTER79.673.498.5 101.788.391.580.795.5102.5 91.5
ROTOWIRE77.676.0121.4 104.379.891.288.190.4108.4 95.0
TMR94.4 82.2142.393.5 89.598.777.699.9 109.299.1
2005 DATA100.0 100.0100.0100.0 100.0100.0100.0 100.0100.0100.0
CBS 71.6113.0 111.0106.798.5 99.1127.393.3 102.6

My projections did very well again, performing over 20% better than the baseline and a 7% improvement over the next closest competitor, rotofreak. The preseason numbers do provide some information value, similar to what we found last year. The global projections might have held up better if David Stern hadn't switch back to the old ball in the middle of the season.

Bringing up the rear again we have Talented Mr Roto (seriously, who's paying for these?) and CBS Sportsline who gets the unique distinction for performing worse than the prior year baseline two years in a row. Whoever is doing their projections should be fired.

Another way of looking at it is this...for each player the projection which comes the closest gets a score of '10' and the projection which does the worst gets a '1'. Summing up all 230 players, we get the following results:

JIM - PRESEASON: 1,526
JIM - ORIGINAL: 1,460
JIM - GLOBAL: 1,460
FANTASY SPORTS CENTRAL: 1,306
ROTOFREAK: 1,305
BASKETBALLMONSTER: 1,234
TALENTED MR ROTO: 1,166
ROTOWIRE: 1,107
CBS SPORTSLINE: 1,045
2005-06 BASELINE: 1,033

Hey, CBS inched ahead of the baseline! The lesson here is be careful what you pay for.

The Wegoblogger / Talented Mr Roto NBA Projection Challenge

Back in October, I also looked at 50 player projections where I differed the most from Talented Mr Roto and put together a little projection challenge. From the results above, you can probably guess how this is going to end up, but for closure's sake, let's post the results.

 WEGO HIGHER WEGO TMR  WINNER
 Bosh,Chris 1.15   1.49  WEGO
 Foye,Randy 1.20   2.67  WEGO
 Martin,Kevin 4.80   8.69  WEGO
 Richardson,Jason 3.94   2.03  TMR
 Ridnour,Luke 1.23   0.33  TMR
 Smith,Josh 1.74   3.71  WEGO
 Crawford,Jamal 2.28   4.18  WEGO
 Butler,Caron 1.92   3.65  WEGO
 Kirilenko,Andrei 8.38   4.20  TMR
 Nocioni,Andres 0.58   1.55  WEGO
 Anthony,Carmelo 0.84   1.80  WEGO
 Pachulia,Zaza 0.59   1.36  WEGO
 Cassell,Sam 1.92   1.34  TMR
 Gasol,Pau 2.79   3.64  WEGO
 Wilcox,Chris 0.71   0.47  TMR
 Bryant,Kobe 2.48   1.52  TMR
 Arenas,Gilbert 2.14   1.96  TMR
 Bell,Raja 1.02   1.78  WEGO
 Peterson,Morris 4.83   3.28  TMR
 Williams,Deron 3.84   4.74  WEGO
 TMR HIGHER WEGO TMR  WINNER
 Butler,Jackie 7.79   19.87  WEGO
 Brewer,Ronnie 6.22   14.04  WEGO
 Dixon,Juan 0.35   1.37  WEGO
 Swift,Stromile 1.90   5.13  WEGO
 Dampier,Erick 1.50   2.88  WEGO
 Thomas,Tyrus 1.90   7.03  WEGO
 McDyess,Antonio 0.43   1.28  WEGO
 Williams,Marvin 1.35   1.92  WEGO
 Gomes,Ryan 0.81   1.71  WEGO
 Stoudemire,Amare 3.24   2.34  TMR
 Stojakovic,Peja 2.67   4.25  WEGO
 Mobley,Cuttino 0.31   0.56  WEGO
 O'Neal,Shaquille 2.66   5.00  WEGO
 Jackson,Stephen 1.17   1.79  WEGO
 Maggette,Corey 1.21   1.89  WEGO
 Marshall,Donyell 2.05   3.34  WEGO
 Jefferson,Al 5.27   2.88  TMR
 Abdur-Rahim,Shareef 1.58   2.40  WEGO
 Williams,Shelden 3.98   6.87  WEGO
 West,David 2.30   2.23  TMR
 CAT DIFFERENCES WEGO TMR  WINNER
 Morrison,Adam 4.18   6.19  WEGO
 Bogut,Andrew 1.71   3.12  WEGO
 Roy,Brandon 1.05   1.72  WEGO
 Gay,Rudy 0.36  0.67   WEGO
 Diogu,Ike 3.06   2.91  TMR
 James,Mike 4.56   6.52  WEGO
 Walker,Antoine 1.85   2.81  WEGO
 Wells,Bonzi 6.40   5.83  TMR
 Davis,Baron 3.47   5.33  WEGO
 Wallace,Rasheed 0.78   0.45  TMR


Again, the methodology is sum of squared errors across the 8-categories. Lowest number wins per player. The results aren't even close. Overall, I win 36-14. In the players that I had higher, I won 17-8. In the players where TMR was higher, I won 22-3. And of the 10 players where we had the players rank similarly but the overall categories were different, I won 7-3. For these 50 players, my projections were 30% better on average. Not much of a challenge after all.

Speaking of TMR, this was about the time of year last season when he reviewed his 'signature' Guys I Love/Guys I Hate list and evaluated himself with flying colors (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary). I don't know if he's brave enough to do the same this year, so let's do it for him. His basic premise is that his 'Guys I Love' are guys that will exceed expectations and vice versa. We can evaluated how he did using the consensus of the projections used above as the baseline. If a guy he loves outperformed the consensus expectations, then he gets a win. Simple enough.

TMR: GUYS I LOVE

GUYS I LOVEConsensus TMR ProjActualW/L
Barbosa,Leandro 8.41 7.98 13.53WIN
Warrick,Hakim 4.60 5.27 7.90WIN
Okafor,Emeka 10.38 10.10 13.61WIN
Williams,Maurice 9.48 9.11 12.71WIN
Gordon,Ben 10.14 10.56 12.71WIN
Smith,Josh 12.16 10.92 14.64WIN
Smith,J.R. 6.69 7.73 9.03WIN
Howard,Josh 11.13 10.76 13.46WIN
Pietrus,Mickael 6.25 6.56 8.21WIN
Brown,Kwame 6.09 5.99 7.71WIN
Hilario,Nene 8.76 8.86 9.97WIN
Livingston,Shaun 7.51 8.09 8.69WIN
Hinrich,Kirk 12.12 11.86 13.29WIN
Terry,Jason 12.22 12.60 13.15WIN
Curry,Eddy 7.83 7.41 8.66WIN
Krstic,Nenad 9.29 9.27 9.97WIN
Parker,Tony 11.76 11.30 12.41WIN
Bogut,Andrew 9.95 10.06 10.32WIN
Williams,Marvin 7.62 9.18 7.91WIN
Wallace,Gerald 14.08 13.65 14.34WIN
Bosh,Chris 14.60 13.30 14.74WIN
Granger,Danny 10.03 10.69 10.04WIN
Miles,Darius 8.03 8.39 0.00LOSS
Kirilenko,Andrei 16.42 14.88 10.51LOSS
James,Mike 11.93 12.32 7.04LOSS
Claxton,Speedy 9.23 9.83 5.50LOSS
Daniels,Marquis 7.86 7.54 4.14LOSS
Nelson,Jameer 12.19 12.05 8.76LOSS
Mohammed,Nazr 8.89 9.38 5.49LOSS
Frye,Channing 9.49 9.47 6.25LOSS
Stojakovic,Peja 12.79 13.96 9.86LOSS
Szczerbiak,Wally 10.86 10.70 8.22LOSS
Milicic,Darko 9.13 9.70 6.74LOSS
Kaman,Chris 10.93 11.09 8.75LOSS
Ilgauskas,Zydrunas 12.10 12.26 9.98LOSS
Jones,Fred 7.05 6.05 5.11LOSS
Villanueva,Charlie 10.17 11.28 8.38LOSS
Marbury,Stephon 11.95 12.31 10.22LOSS
Okur,Mehmet 11.74 11.64 11.16LOSS
Felton,Raymond 11.39 11.97 10.82LOSS
Odom,Lamar 13.55 13.03 13.03LOSS
West,David 11.51 12.61 11.00LOSS
Battier,Shane 10.59 11.21 10.12LOSS
Wilcox,Chris 9.77 9.23 9.36LOSS
West,Delonte 9.94 10.51 9.70LOSS
Alston,Rafer 11.05 10.87 10.81LOSS
Gomes,Ryan 8.11 9.84 7.97LOSS
Johnson,Joe 14.16 13.04 14.06LOSS


TMR did a great job selecting Barbosa, Warrick, Okafor, Josh Smith and Josh Howard, but this was far outweighed by missing the mark on Kirilenko, Claxton (he kept pimping Speedy all year hoping for a tunraround), Marquis Daniels, Channing Frye, etc. Overall, I have him with a win-loss record of 22-26 on his win list, and on average a Berry recommended player UNDERPERFORMED consensus expectations by 4.5%.

One other thing worth noting is that while TMR recommended a whole slew of players, a number of his 'Guys I Love' had much lower than consensus numbers in the projections that he was selling on his site! Check out Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, Eddy Curry, Barbosa, Tony Parker and Gerald Wallace. Why the disconnect? Keep this in mind if he decides to write a column next week and calls Joe Johnson a win.

TMR: GUYS I HATE

GUYS I HATEConsensus TMR ProjActualW/L
O'Neal,Shaquille 9.89 11.28 6.33WIN
Przybilla,Joel 7.77 8.62 4.31WIN
Telfair,Sebastian 7.50 5.96 4.42WIN
Rose,Jalen 5.56 6.73 2.72WIN
Redick,JJ 6.64 5.37 3.81WIN
Brown,P.J. 7.36 7.77 4.61WIN
Francis,Steve 9.82 8.92 8.34WIN
Gooden,Drew 9.16 9.09 8.50WIN
Maggette,Corey 10.90 11.91 10.44WIN
Dunleavy,Mike 9.76 9.37 9.64WIN
Stackhouse,Jerry 7.60 7.68 7.64LOSS
Bell,Raja 9.79 9.17 9.85LOSS
Thomas,Tim 7.70 7.38 8.41LOSS
Dalembert,Samuel 10.87 10.69 11.64LOSS
Davis,Ricky 11.45 11.27 12.26LOSS
Tinsley,Jamaal 9.28 9.04 10.16LOSS
Pachulia,Zaza 8.41 6.88 9.53LOSS
Crawford,Jamal 9.04 7.47 10.47LOSS
Anthony,Carmelo 13.59 12.63 15.25LOSS
Duncan,Tim 13.58 13.61 15.37LOSS
Davis,Baron 13.79 13.25 15.67LOSS
Miller,Mike 11.50 12.48 13.79LOSS
Boozer,Carlos 12.48 12.24 15.05LOSS
Butler,Caron 12.78 11.33 15.36LOSS
Chandler,Tyson 8.67 8.68 11.57LOSS
Randolph,Zach 9.57 9.60 13.16LOSS
Richardson,Quentin 5.79 5.46 9.45LOSS


TMR was spot on with Shaq and Telfair. Way to go! However, his projections had much higher numbers for Shaq, Jalen Rose and Corey Maggette. Berry completely missed the boat on Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler (a big miss), Carlos Boozer and Mike Miller. I've got him 10-17 in his 'Guys I Hate' list, and a guy on this list OUTPERFORMED consensus expectations by 2.9% on average.

All in all, not good. We'll see how TMR grades himself if he decides to write that column again this year. In the words of Berry himself: "When you are an “Expert” – that is to say, when you are paid for your writing and predictions – especially in fantasy sports, you are only as good as your prognostications." What does it say when his recommended players underperform and his avoid players outperform?

Top College Basketball Programs Over the Last 10 Years (Updated)

4/03/2007 0 comments
First of all, congratulations to the Florida Gators on defending their title. Despite hearing Billy Packer go on and on about how tired the Buckeyes were (starting about 3 minutes into the game and lasting until the final buzzer), I think it just boils down the fact that the Gators were simply the better team. Why can't we just leave it at that? Although the game wasn't very compelling, I was glad to see (as were many NBA scouts) Greg Oden show that he does in fact have a pulse. Too bad the his teammates were throwing up bricks.

With the 2006-07 season in the books, I've updated my rankings of the top programs over the last 10 years using the Colton Index. Here are the results with the 2006-07 season included.  The NCAA tourney results are double-weighted.

Interestingly, most of the top teams from the previous list had down years in 2006-07.  Of the teams previously in the top 20, only Florida, Wisconsin and UCLA performed better in 2006-07 than their previous 10-year level (North Carolina and Kansas came close).  Other teams moved up because their 06-07 season was better than the 96-97 season that was being cycled out (see Michigan State, Gonzaga).

For the complete year-by-year list, check out: http://www.coltonindex.com/jci_all_10.html


Rk PREV TEAM W L JCI SOS SOS
1 1 Duke 300 53 4.26 .5995 3
2 2 Kentucky 261 83 3.54 .5827 1
3 3 Connecticut 263 78 3.45 .6371 20
4 4 Kansas 265 72 3.23 .6542 30
5 8 Michigan St 242 93 3.21 .6016 4
6 5 Arizona 248 82 3.19 .6264 13
7 6 North Carolina 239 101 3.18 .5832 2
8 7 Illinois 249 90 3.12 .6237 12
9 15 Florida 248 86 3.08 .6325 18
10 10 Maryland 233 99 3.06 .6072 5
11 9 Stanford 234 80 2.98 .6600 35
12 11 Syracuse 247 92 2.78 .6663 40
13 17 Wisconsin 215 109 2.63 .6234 10
14 22 Gonzaga 258 69 2.58 .7582 85
15 16 Texas 229 103 2.57 .6555 31
16 18 Oklahoma St 226 94 2.52 .6824 59
17 14 Oklahoma 232 91 2.51 .6864 61
18 19 UCLA 210 111 2.49 .6286 16
19 12 Cincinnati 236 89 2.47 .7005 65
20 13 Wake Forest 200 121 2.41 .6170 8
21 31 Ohio State 213 110 2.38 .6525 29
22 20 Indiana 198 122 2.38 .6076 6
23 23 Pittsburgh 216 102 2.37 .6680 43
24 29 Tennessee 194 114 2.27 .6401 21
25 25 Villanova 194 123 2.12 .6471 23
26 24 North Carolina St 194 133 2.10 .6265 14
27 32 Alabama 195 123 2.05 .6522 27
28 43 Memphis 223 106 2.04 .7341 77
29 27 Louisville 200 120 2.03 .6726 48
30 28 Xavier 230 94 2.01 .7484 82
31 26 Iowa 191 127 2.01 .6492 24
32 34 Notre Dame 190 122 1.98 .6589 33
 
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