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Showing posts from December, 2007

Does Momentum from Previous Games Predict Who Wins Game 5?

Happy holidays to everyone!

Today's entry looks at whether, in a five-game match, the winner of the fifth game can be predicted by the pattern of how the first four games have gone. For example, if one team wins the first two games, but the other team wins the third and fourth games, one might expect the latter team to win the fifth game, owing to its momentum from Games 3 and 4. This line of reasoning led many to expect a Stanford win in Game 5 of the recent NCAA women's final against Penn State, but it was the Nittany Lions prevailing.

In the analysis below, I looked at 2007 within-conference matches from four major women's conferences: the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 10, and SEC. As can be seen, in the 34 total matches in which one team (represented by "A") had won the first two games and the other team ("B") had rebounded to win Games 3 and 4, Team A won Game 5 -- and the match -- somewhat more often than did Team B, 19 compared to 15.


Another scenario …

Subtlety and Context in Interpreting Volleyball Stats

Over at the VolleyTalk discussion website, user “38 Skynyrd” started a topic the evening of December 15, after the Penn State-Stanford NCAA title match, about volleyball statistics. The initial salvo in the discussion essentially argued for more subtlety and context in interpreting volleyball statistics, given that:

“…absolute raw numbers in the box score do not always tell the true story of how good or bad a player did in a given game or match.”

The full set of messages is available here. A number of suggestions were made by the discussants for new statistics. Given the obvious relevance of this discussion for our mission here at VolleyMetrics, I have excerpted a number of these ideas (with the author of each one credited in parentheses). These are shown below:

“…a hitter may have hit for good numbers overall, but if they made 5-6 hitting errors at critical points in the match, then their overall hitting percentage may still look good in the box score, but they still had a crappy m…

Top NCAA Women's Programs 2003-07, Relative to National Tourney Seedings

With another women's NCAA Division I season on the books -- Penn State having defeated Stanford in a five-game final -- now is a good time to take stock of how the nation's leading programs have been doing in NCAA play in recent years.

As one option, we could look at which schools have been winning championships and making the Final Four. Looking at the last five years, we would find many "usual suspects," such as Stanford, Nebraska, Washington, USC, and Penn State; even Minnesota, whose icy cold locale doesn't necessarily suggest volleyball greatness, has made two Final Fours in this timeframe.

A more subtle approach, however, is to look at which teams have done best relative to their seedings. Such an analysis can tell us which teams raise their games come tournament time, compared to what their regular-season performance would have suggested. A team that comes into the NCAA tourney as a No. 16 national seed, for example, would be favored to win two matches…