2014 Super Bowl prediction (hard math)

I think I found the actual reference from my entry level statistics course in college. Something referred to as binomial probability; taking a trial of results with at least 2 outcomes, and measure of success and failure. I recognized this approach when I studied the Favorite Toy method by Bill James, which is now more properly termed The method is supposed to measure the probability of reaching a milestone amount, mainly applied to baseball. It’s a matter of taking 3 different numbers, and ranking them, applying the value to the number, and dividing the value of the rank to the sum of the numbers being used. For example:
We’ll assign 1 a value of 1, 4 a value of 2, and 3 a value of 3.
We multiply the numbers to each other (1×1), (4×2) (3×3) and then add these results.
So our total is
1 x 1 = 1
4 x 2 = 8
3 x 3 = 9
subtotal: 18
And we divide that number, 18, by the sub total of rank (1+2+3 = 6) to get…3
The number that is key is 3, as the likelihood of the result that follows 1, 4 and 3 based on the rank. This can be applied in a number of situations.
So it is that I looked to this method for determining a future scoring outcome for the Super Bowl, to see if I can predict the score and the flow of the game. What I did, after a few years experimenting on this, was to take the quarterly scores for and against of a team’s games,looking at each boxscore of the regular season and playoff game. Applying the Favorite Toy method, the Game 1 scores have the least rank, and the conference championship games the most rank. I had to add up the week numbers (basically 1 through 18, which equals 171), and then divide that by the series of products that resulted from multiplying all those quarterly scores. I then produced a 2nd series of numbers by simply doing a sum total of the quarterly scores, no binomial coefficient to mess with here. Finally, I did a median of the 2 sets of numbers to use as the basis for the comparatives.
For this post, I’m comparing the two Super Bowl teams and measuring who is scoring and allowing scores at a rate quicker or slower at a particular quarter of a game. In this way, not only am I attempting to predict a score, but also the very flow of the contest.
I’ll spare the heavy work, and give you the core results and the comparatives here:

After 18 games, here is what the Broncos scored based on the sub total:
1Q: 7.77 2Q: 9.72 3Q: 8.61 4Q: 10.88. Total of the sub totals are 36.98
Points allowed:
1Q: 3.55 2Q: 7.27 3Q: 5.77 4Q: 7.44 Total: 24.03

Using the binomial coefficient, the scores are a bit different. It’s how different that matters:
Points for:
1Q: 7.97 2Q: 9.38 3Q: 5.92 4Q: 10.04 Total: 33.31
Points against:
1Q: 3.02 2Q: 6.18 3Q: 5.21 4Q: 8.05. Total: 22.46

And for the median of the 2 results for the Broncos, the basis for the study:
Points for
1Q: 7.87 2Q: 9.55 3Q: 7.26 4Q: 10.46 Total: 35.14
Points against:
1Q: 3.28 2Q: 6.72 3Q: 5.49 4Q: 7.74 Total 23.23
When comparing the 1st 2 sets of numbers, I am comparing the statistical trend, the sub total to the binomial. The binomial result is what’s current. In this way, we see that the Broncos’ is scoring a few more points in the 1st, a few less in the 2nd, a lot fewer in the 3rd, and less in the 4th.
In points allowed they are allowing less in the first and 3rd, a good deal less in the 2nd, and then it softens up in the 4th.
The trend: I gathered by getting the net score of the sub total for each quarter, PF and PA, and comparing to the binomial. If the sub total is greater, or more positive, this means a negative trend is occuring.
1st quarter: +0.73
2nd quarter: +0.75
3rd quarter: -2.13
4th: -1.45
overall: -2.10
Now we pause and look at the Seahawks numbers. First the sub totals:
Points for:
1Q: 4.16 2Q: 8.50 3Q: 5.38 4Q: 7.33 Total 25.37
Points against:
1Q: 1.38 2Q: 6.38 3Q: 2.66 4Q: 4.16 Total 14.58

Binomial results:
Points for:
1Q: 4.33 2Q: 8.71 3Q: 4.67 4Q: 6.98 Total: 24.69
Points against:
1Q: 1.41 2Q: 5.63 3Q: 2.49 4Q: 4.75 Total: 14.29
And the median of these, the numbers we’ll run with:
Points for:
1Q: 4.24 2Q: 8.60 3Q: 5.02 4Q: 7.15 Total: 25.01
Points against:
1Q: 1.39 2Q: 6.00 3Q: 2.57 4Q: 4.45 Total: 14.41
1st quarter trend: +0.14
2nd: +0.96
3rd: -0.54
4th: -0.94
Overall: -0.38
In words:
Seahawks scoring a bit more lately in the first, a bit more in the 2nd, much less in the 3rd, and less in the 4th.
On defense, they give up a few more in the first, much less in the 2nd, a bit less in the 3rd, and soften up in the 4th.
Now for the real marriage: We’ll take the median of 2 of the median lines, specificaly Denver’s points for and Seattle’s points against, and then vice versa. We’ll do the median of those results further to finally get the point total we seek. And….we’ll do a final comparative as to how the scoring should go:

First the median of the Broncos’ points for and the Seahawks points against:
7.87 9.55 7.26 10.46 (Bronco offense)
1.39 6.00 2.57 4.45 (Seattle D)
4.63 7.77 4.91 7.45 = 24.06

Now vice versa:
4.24 8.60 5.02 7.15 (Seattle offense)
3.28 6.72 5.49 7.74 (Denver D)
3.76 7.66 5.25 7.44 = 24.11


Considering the quarterly trends and the marriage of medians, my predicted final score is Seattle 26, Denver.24

Both sides should come out firing and that momentum will be present, with Denver doing best, in the 2nd quarter. 2nd half will be much more defensive, and Seattle will have its biggest impact in the 3rd. Both sides are very even in the 4th, so the end-of-3rd quarter result should be the best indicator.

2014 Australian Open men’s singles final analysis

I haven’t tracked tennis players at the level I do now for sake of this blog, but I have never seen one player thoroughly dominate another in head to head action at the top level. So it is with Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka, meeting for the 3rd time in a Grand Slam event, and 15\3th overall. Rafa is 12-0, and it appears he’s won every set, plus each tiebreak.

What I will do here is examine the stats in their matchups, and see if there are holes in Rafa’s game that can be exploited.
The following stats are from matchstat.com
1st serve %: Rafa ranges from 58 to 76%. Stan: 47-61% Rafa has lead in this category all 12 times and is totally on another level here.
Points from aces/double-faults:
Nadal: -2 to +5. Stan: -1 to 6. Stan leads here 8 times. Hm…why hasn’t this stat translated to wins?

1st service points won:
Rafa: 64-84%. Stan: 56-80%. Rafa was only outpointed twice here.

2nd service points won:
Rafa: 39-73% Stan: 33-59%. Only once did Stan score better here.

Break points won:
Rafa: 8-64%. Stan: 0-100%. Rafa again has done better here, 8 of 12 matches.

Return points won:
Rafa: 35-53% Stan: 16-42% Stan did better here only in their most recent meeting.

Net approaches:
Rafa: 73-81% Stan: 53-62%

Here’s another breakdown based on stats from the ATP website:
From a 6 match sample they have average 56 minutes a set.

Break points saved:
Rafa: 0-100% Stan: 36-91%
Both players are split on this stat
1st service return points won:
Rafa: 20-42% Stan: 15-34%
Another split between the two. Stan would have to do better than his best, 35% to have any chance.
2nd service return points won:
Rafa: 50-67% Stan: 34-61%
Rafa has a near perfect edge in this category. Stan would need to be in the 60% range.

Service points won:
Rafa: 64-72%
Stan: 46-68%
Stan must be near 70% to have any chance.

Return points won:
Rafa: 31-53%
Stan: 27-35%
Rafa dominates here also.

Truly in summary, Nadal leads in every category. Here are the benchmarks Stan will need:
76% 1st serves won
50% 2nd service points won
36% return points won
36% break points saved
50% 2nd service return points won
68% service points won

Nadal’s strength is certainly present here, as well as his mental faculties. His overall athletic ability is on the rise and at just the right time. His drive is a bit on the negative side but it’s increasing a bit. He might make some poor decisions along the way but those will be at a minimum.

Wawrinka’s stats are all on the increase but it’s a real uphill climb. He’s bottomed out physically days prior but otherwise his mental game is very sharp. He’ll have to rely on that mental game to keep from getting shut out yet again.
With this combo, there’s really no way I can predict other than a dominant Nadal straight-set victory, like in previous matchups.

2014 Australian Open women’s singles final analysis

It would seem that the predominant stat between the two finalists in the 2014 Australian Open women’s singles is:. #4 seed Li Na of China has won her last 11 competitive matches, and all 4 vs her opponent, Dominika Cibulkova.

What I want to find are the holes in Na’s game to see if Cibulkova can harp on that weakness if one does exist. I also will attempt to find any trends that suggest a certain threshold to win based on their head-to-head matchups.

Here are the thresholds each player needs for a win taking into account the best scores by Cibulkova and the worst of Na’s:

Li Na:
1st serve: 64%
Aces/double faults: Keep the ratio at 1:1 or better
1st serve points won: 60%
2nd serve points: 40%
Break points: 38%
Return points converted: 46%

1st serve: 76%
Aces/double faults: Keep these at least even, or as little as -2 in favor of double faults.
1st serve points won: 60%
2nd serve points: 52%
Break points: 61%
Retun points converted: 45%
Unsurprisingly the bar is raised fairly high for Cibulkova to outplay her opponent.

I looked at a different set of stats from another source and made further comparisons and benchmarks based on what is available:

Li Na edge in all categories except in these, in 2 of their head to head matchups:
2nd service points won
Break points saved
2nd return points won
Break points won.
So Cibulkova is pretty tough in those situations. Interestingly the 2 matches I saw this edge came when they played on clay court. When they had their one hardcourt battle, in Toronto last year, Li Na swept the categories.

Li Na:

Remember when she fell in last year’s final?

Here were her cycles that fateful day:

In very good form, but that physical cycle was pushing, straining, gaining strength, a rather uphill battle. Very likely it was the onset of the critical point in the cycle where she would not be able to properly gauge her strength. Still she survived three sets then as her tennis smarts were very strong that day.

As for Saturday:

Her mental and emotional cycles are similar to last year’s finals but she’s coming in weak here, or at least the potential reflects that. There may be a surge of energy, but as before, the weight of the pain will be felt fully. She’ll have a brave face about it as usual and figure out Cibulkova’s game quite well but it comes down to the execution.

Let’s see Cibulkova’s cycles:

Tough cycles for Cibu (we can call her Cibu right? The TV displays go up to 4 characters, which is practically heathen. Anyways.) Emotional critical day coming up…just the time to toss the racket, mouth off at the umpire, etc. Other cycles are also plummeting. Very challenging day to succeed.
I’m predicing a 3-set win for Li Na, risking injury but will chalk it up to experience surviving in all areas of the game, even if she does get relatively battered and bruised.


Friday Night Fights: Williams/White

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights is based tonight at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton WA. The headliner is a title event.

Thomas Williams Jr, vs Cornelius White, 10 rounds, light heavyweights, for the vacant WBO and NABO titles.
I swear I never heard of the NABO but apparently it’s a regional rep for the WBO.

Both fighters got the opportunity for this belt after Eleider Alvarez’s 4th successful defense. WBO’s info has it tha tSergey Kovalev is the champion, and Alvarez is back to #2. No I haven’t figured it out yet.

Thomas Williams is 15-0-0, 10 by KO. First fight in the Pacific Northwest. It’s also his 2nd fight at 10 rounds. Further it’s his very first title fight. His prior fight was a decision win,   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMarbnvwG6c)
Prior to his last 2 decision fights, he had a string of 6 KO wins.
BoxRec ranks the southpaw as the #6 fighter of his class in the US, #23 worldwide.
Now a look at his cycles:

Not good. All cycles downward, plus feeling the effect of the physical cycle means he’s likely to be cut and not be very motivated to go 10 rounds.
Cornelius White is BoxRec’s #5 light heavyweight. Da Beast, based in Houston comes in with a record of 21-2-0, 16 wins and both losses by KO. It’s just 4th fight at 10 rounds plus, and comes out of a TKO loss to champion Sergey Kovalev, an IBF title eliminator
Williams is the 2nd straight opponent for White coming in undefeated.

Cornelius’s cycles are better but not by much, as he’s fairly weak physically but does have a fair amount of heart. His punching power should be fine. He’s not going to make his share of correct decisions on punches.
Could be a fairly ugly yet physical contest. I see this as White winning with a late KO.

New Twitter handle

It’s about time I became more constructive on building up this blog. I have now built a Twitter handle devoted to my cause.
Follow @idealisticstats for more insights as they come in that are too short for a simple blog but too short and sudden not to share.

I am working on several posts that involve the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and my annual stab at the Super Bowl score complete with some heady statistics (science definition, that is)

I still have my radio presence for all matters besides stats and sports at @radiocblue

Lucian Bute vs Jean Pascal in stats/biorhythms

A pair of light heavyweights who could almost be neighbors do battle tonight at the Bell Centre in Montreal. No hype here; both do live in Montreal, in the same geographic suburb, called Laval.

Lucian Bute vs Jean Pascal, 12 rounds, light heavyweights, for Bute’s NABF light heavyweight title. First we go to the challenger:
Pascal is 28-2-1, 17 wins by KO, no KO losses. BoxRec ranks him as #5 for his class worldwide, and #2 in Canada. This is his 9th fight at the Bell Centre (and 7th of his last 8), the site of one of his 2 losses (Bernard Hopkins, 5/11. That fight was a rematch, following a draw 5 months prior). TKO in last fight, came after streak of 5 which went the distance. 12 fights at 12 rounds, going 9-2-1, 4 KOs. Just 2 KOs in the last 9 fights.
It will be his 8th fight vs an opponent with 0 or 1 loss, not counting 2 who were making their 2nd appearance early in Pascal’s own career. 7-1-0 (lone loss to Carl Froch), 2 KOs.

Mixed cycles here. I tend to ignore the mental cycles with regard to pure athletes but not entirely. Here, Pascal will have to lead with his heart and take some risks. And he’ll get his share, finding some strength, but not always connecting. 

Bute had won the title from Denis Grachey in this same venue back in November 2012. Le Tombeur does reside in Canada but was born in Romania in the waning years of Communist rule ther, and 4 days after the Winter Olympics of 1980 ended. .
Overall, he’s 31-1-1, 24 KOs, and makes his first defense of the NABF belt. He’s fought almost exclusively at the Bell Centre since his very debut back in 2003. It turns out that Bute’s own lone loss also came vs Froch (5/26/12, in Nottingham, UK. Watch that full fight here),2nd fight from last. Scored the decision win vs Grachey last time. Hasn’t put 2 decisions together in his career since 2007; that’s how often he registers a KO. He’s also scored 15 KO wins in his 23 fights scheduled for 12, with the majority of wins ending early or middle rounds.

Very clear picture here. Ideal cycles for any situation, especially for a boxer firing on all cylinders.

Predicting KO for Bute somewhere from rounds 4 through 7.

random sports thoughts

All over the place today..here’s what I’m thinking and doing:

Looking forward, somewhat, to the baseball HOF&M announcement. Never leave out the M for Museum.
I’m sticking with the de facto standard I introduced in a prior post, and also with my top 10.
What I would change re the HOF&M voting is this:
Writers should not get to vote at all. Players and veteran staff, possibly a broadcaster, maybe 1 or 2 in each city fielding a MLB team, who have at least 20 years and current affiliation with one team, should be designated to vote. (Vin Scully in Los Angeles, or John Sterling in NYC, for examples). Those reps should not vote for a player who wore their uniform, just to be safe.
Voting at 75% is fair.
There should be a fan vote to elect one player a year, just like they already vote for the last man in the All-Star Game.
Historians of the game should be allowed at least some percentage of the vote, but should raise the % higher to, say, 90%.
I would not let MLB personnel vote.
Above all, I’d want to eliminate the political warfare that goes on in the voting process.
BOXING: Friday Night Fights returned to ESPN last week. I missed out on reviewing and analyzing the action from last week, but I aim to make up the time by looking at the co-main features for this week’s fights, along with any major fights outside of FNF.

I am gently getting into harness handicapping. I have passively watched standarbreds run for a few years less than I have the thoroughbreds. I caught on early enough, watching Racing from Yonkers or Roosevelt, whoever was in esason, 1130pm, Saturdays. It would air on WOR, channel 9, in NYC, The Roosevelt coverage kicked off with the sounds of BT Express’s “Express” (BROOKLYN, not Philly).    This video has opening to both tracks’ coverage  Stan Bergstein would anchor same-day tape-delay coverage of 4 races of action at either track. I’m still catching up on the history of harness horses and their drivers from, say the mid-80’s.  Here’s footage from a typical show.. (careful! Serious 70’s vibe alert)

Meanwhile, I am reading up articles by Bob Pandolfo, whose articles appear in Daily Racing Form, and some are reprints from his former post at Harness Eye. I gleaned info on 3 specific systems. 2 are based on spot plays, and a third is a point system involving 3/4 and last quarter time. I’m learning quickly about what to watch involving trips, and terms like flushed cover, first over are becoming familiar again.
I am not confident enough to post selections yet, but I am definitely appropriating my thoroughbred knowledge, and we’ll see how I do. I’ll likely look at Meadowlands and Yonkers past performances. In my trial run of studies, it’s taken a bit longer to go through each race, as I’m definitely studying every trip, every horse, instead of select ones between thoroughbreds.
I was successful in the ThoroEnduro handicapping challenge presented by 123racing. Their challenge took place at Oklahoma City’s Remington Park. I was in the running toward the very end, needing a run of placings, at least one a day, from 3 races out of a 9 race card, 5 days a week during the meet. The contest is not all that difficult to score in, given the leeway. I nearly won the top prize of $5000, and it came down to the very last race. For 2nd place, I still win $1000. This is officially my biggest score in the industry. I have to believe I contend, and win, in other contests. Mind you, these are free, not ones I paid for playing. The big boys play in the National Handicapping Tour. If I had the cash, I might do it. Still, I just don’t know if I’m ready; my income status is pretty low and this gambling win comes just in time for bills.
I’m currently in two contests. One is Public Handicapper, picking wins only, typically out of 4 races on one day. Win and you collect. Lose and you lose $. Again, this is free, and virtual $ is being wagered. So far, I have 5 wins in 20 races, good for a loss of about $6.80. I rank as #1217. Top 20 get prizes.
The other contest is from Santa Anita, called Showvivor. Pick one horse across all 9 races. There are 5 ways to win: Highest win payout, streaks of wins, places, shows, and most wins. My best category is win payout: my pick of The Mad Hungarian at 6-1 on Saturday was good for $13.40. It ranks 95th overall. Just one prize per category. It’s tougher, especially after doing hours of analysis, just to see a horse score or lose. I actually have 3 wins outright, one place, one show in 9 days.
Beyond this, my next conquest will be the 2nd future wager, coming February 6th through 8th.
Not so hot with the college bowl games. Some of the games ended via one score, which really twisted the knife. But I won’t change my system for it. Scoring at 69% for my confidence score distribution,and might finish in the 70’s if the Seminoles win.
It would also get me right to .500 in the straight-up picks.


Here are the boxscores of 4 games, that pitted current playoff teams going against each other in the opposing conference:
W at Niners, week 3
W vs Seattle, week 5
W vs Saints, week 6
L vs Panthers, week 11
no record
no record
L vs Patriots, week 6
L vs Colts, week 5
L vs Colts, week 3
W vs Patriots, week 11

Super Bowl weather right now looks like this: