Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Word Clouds of NCAA Women's Final Four Teams

I thought it would be interesting and fun to analyze the NCAA women's Final Four (beginning Thursday night) via "word clouds." Actually, I stole the idea from someone who used word clouds in connection with the Major League Baseball playoffs a couple of months ago. Anyway, with word clouds, the user can simply copy and paste blocks of text (in my case, game articles from the NCAA tournament) into a field at the website and have it generate "clouds," such as those shown below, that depict the most frequently occurring words in the text.

With Penn State, for example, I went to the school's athletic website and got the four articles reporting the Nittany Lions' wins in each round leading up to the Final Four. I then copied and pasted all four articles, stacked one on top of the other, into the text field at Wordle. I also did the same for Texas, Hawai'i, and Minnesota. You can click on the graphics below to enlarge them (you'll almost certainly need to, in order to see the smallest words).

You'll see for each team the names of its most prominent players standing out in the largest type, such as Megan Hodge, Alisha Glass, and Arielle Wilson for Penn State; Destinee Hooker and Juliann Faucette for Texas; Kanani Danielson, Stephanie Ferrell, and Aneli Cubi-Otineru for Hawai'i; and Lauren Gibbemeyer, Tabitha Love, and Taylor Carico for Minnesota.

Also showing up readily in the clouds are various volleyball terms. The terms "kill" and "kills" (i.e., "put away" spikes that the defense can neither block nor dig) feature prominently in each team's display, but they really seem to stand out (to my eyes, at least) for Hawai'i and Penn State. According to official NCAA statistics, the national rankings of the four teams in kills per game (or set) are Penn State (5), Hawai'i (11), Texas (13), and Minnesota (33). Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. If you think there are any valuable insights to be gleaned from these clouds, let us know via the Comments feature!

1 comment:

Kristina said...

Dr. Reifman,
One thing that I noticed toying with that website is that it treats the same word capitalized differently as different words. I used several e-mails from one person to see which words were the most prominent and noticed that "please", "Please", and "PLEASE" were all treated as different words. I wonder if going through the text and making sure that the same word is capitalized in the same way for all four schools might change the comparability?