Monday, December 03, 2007

Team runs in basketball are when one team outscores the other by a substantial margin (say 10 or more points) within a relatively short timeframe, often (but not necessarily) shutting out the opponent in the process.

I kept a close eye out for notable team runs in the 2004 men's NCAA basketball tournament, and found at least one of them to occur in 75% of the games (47 out of the 63 games, excluding the play-in game). Examples included:

Texas Tech going on a 14-0 run to take control of its first-round game against Charlotte, but then getting eliminated in the second round by St. Joseph's, who reeled off its own 24-2 run against the Red Raiders.

Kansas and Pacific trading runs in their second-round contest, KU's 15-2 first-half spurt being countered by a 12-0 UOP run. Ultimately, a Jayhawks' 15-3 second-half run proved decisive.

UConn unleashing a 12-0 run down the stretch to overtake Duke in a memorable national semifinal contest.

(A full list is available upon request, by e-mailing me through the link to my faculty webpage.)

Though team runs appear to be fairly common, it is quite another matter for the No. 1 team in the country, playing at home, to suffer one. But that's exactly what happened to the top-ranked UCLA men yesterday against No. 8 Texas.

According to this game story:

"Texas outscored the Bruins 26-2, including 17 in a row, in the first half" to take a sizable lead. But, the Bruins came back as, "UCLA opened the second half on a 16-3 run that produced its first lead since early in the game." The game eventually reached an equilibrium, with the Longhorns pulling it out at the end.

I have not attempted to document the rate of team runs in the regular season, but even if they don't occur as frequently as in the NCAA tournament, they still probably occur often enough. Thus, whether your favorite team is leading or trailing in a game, as Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over, till it's over."

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