Sunday, April 06, 2008

A reporter from the New York Times contacted me a few days ago on a hockey-related matter. He asked if I could do some statistical analyses of NHL teams, over the years, that have the put together the top win-loss record in the regular season (for which they receive the President's Trophy) and how likely these teams would have been (in retrospect) to win the Stanley Cup championship in the playoffs. The reporter's thought was that, among other things, teams that compile the top record in the regular season may have done so by keeping their top players on the ice a lot, thus tiring them out for the playoffs. Here's the article from today's Sunday Times.


Last night's two national semifinal games of the men's college basketball Final Four featured a number of streak-relevant phenomena. Most dramatic were the stretches of dominance exchanged by Kansas and North Carolina in the nightcap (play-by-play sheet).

After a UNC hoop cut an early KU lead to 15-10, the Jayhawks took off on an incomprehensible 25-2 spurt that made the score 40-12 with 6:49 left in the first half. The Tar Heels scored the next 10 points to make it 40-22, and the teams played at parity for the final minutes of the half, leaving the score 44-27 at the intermission.

With Kansas leading 54-36 a few minutes into the second half, North Carolina scored 14 straight to close to within 54-50 with 11:16 remaining. For roughly the next six minutes, the two teams held their ground, with the Jayhawks leading 67-61. At this point, it was KU that had the last offensive flurry to unleash, outscoring UNC 17-5 the rest of the way, to win 84-66.

In the opening game, a 78-63 Memphis win over UCLA, what stood out most to me was both teams' loss of their early three point-shooting touch, whether due to stepped-up defense, fatigue, pressure, or something else (box score and play-by-play sheet).

For the first 7:02 of the game, the Tigers and Bruins were shooting a combined 5-for-7 from behind the arc (UCLA 3-of-4, Memphis 2-of-3). The teams then went a combined 3-for-18 the rest of the way, to end up a combined 8-for-25 (UCLA 4-13, Memphis 4-12).

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