Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Winter isn't even here yet but we have more sports than we do seasons so the newspapers are already talking about the 2005 to 2006 university basketball season in the USA which is underway. The basketball season gets off to a slow start without the equivalent of baseball's "Opening Day" (which the NCAA plans to "fix" in due time via some new marketing plans) but the season ends via a grand finale known by sports fans nationwide as the "March Madness" tournament. For the newbies to basketball March Madness is the 64 team post-season championship which leads to a legitimate (unlike the mythical champion -- granted the Bowl Championship Series people would argue with me but face it, most bowl game match ups are made to drive ticket sales, etc. -- in college football) national champion.
As the basketball season opened earlier this month USA Today published the "Sagarin Division I Men's Basketball Preseason Ratings" which are computer ratings developed by Jeff Sagarin, a 1970 MIT mathematics graduate. Mr. Sagarin provides his ranking service for eight (8) different sports -- http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin.htm - based on his mathematical models.
For the 2005-2006 men's basketball season Mr. Sagarin ranks the following teams as his "Top Ten" (credit to David Letterman if needed for the Top Ten phrase reference if his lawyers insist) of the total 334 teams in his overall ranking system:
1. Duke University
2. North Carolina
5. Oklahoma State
9. Wake Forest
Historically (in my lifetime at least) all ten of these teams have produced very good teams with several "Final Four" appearances during March Madness but who might you ask was ranked dead last at number 334??
Since Americans love underdogs -- the Chicago Cubs and Rocky for example -- let me introduce you to the mutt of all underdogs according to Mr. Sagarin's ciphering (high level math term there!):
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA
The UNF has nearly 14,000 students and is located in Jacksonville, Florida. If you want to join me in wishing them good luck you can contact the team at:
Matt Kilcullen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard White - email@example.com
Josh Bowling - firstname.lastname@example.org