I write about how statistics can be used to help understand sports, but these techniques and tools have applications in quality improvement and any other endeavor that involves the analysis of data. Continue Reading »
may not be a situation more perilous than being a character on
Game of Thrones. Warden of the North, Hand of
the King, and apparent protagonist of the entire series? Off with
your head before the end of the first season! Last male heir of a
royal bloodline? Here, have a pot of molten gold poured on your
head! Invited to a wedding? Well, you probably know what happens at
weddings in the show. ... Continue Reading
can be a tricky thing. Consider trying to predict the number rolled
by 2 six-sided dice. We know that 7 is the most likely outcome. We
know the exact probability each number has of being rolled. If we
rolled the dice 100 times, we could calculate the expected value
for the number of times each value would be rolled. However, even
with all that information, we can't definitively predict... Continue Reading
In week 16 of the 2016 NFL season, the Cleveland Browns were
able to avoid going into the history books as only the second team
to finish the season 0-16. They claimed their first and only win of
the season after San Diego missed a last-second field goal. While
they came very close to going winless, the statistics paint a very
different picture of the odds of that occurrence.
Going 0-16 is hard.
Usi... Continue Reading
The college football season is here, and this raises a very
Is Alabama going to be undefeated when they win the national
championship, or will they lose a regular-season game along the
Okay, so it's not a given that Alabama is going to win
the championship this year, but when you've won 4 of the last 7
you're definitely the odds-on favorite.
However, what if we wanted to take... Continue Reading
games are about to begin in Rio de Janeiro. Over the next 16 days,
more than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries will be competing in
306 different events. That's the most events ever in any Olympic
games. It's almost twice as many events as there were 50 years ago,
and exactly three times as many as there were 100 years ago.
Since the number of Olympic events has changed over time,... Continue Reading
you perform a statistical analysis, you want to make sure you
collect enough data that your results are reliable. But you also
want to avoid wasting time and money collecting more data than you
need. So it's important to find an appropriate middle ground when
determining your sample size.
Now, technically, the Major League Baseball regular season isn't
a statistical analysis. But it does kind... Continue Reading
For hundreds of years, people having been improving their
situation by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Well, now
you can improve your statistical knowledge by pulling yourself up
by your bootstraps. Minitab
Express has 7 different bootstrapping analyses that can help
you better understand the sampling distribution of your
A sampling distribution describes the likelihood of... Continue Reading
When it comes to statistical analyses, collecting a large enough
sample size is essential to obtaining quality results. If your
sample size is too small, confidence intervals may be too wide to
be useful, linear models may lack necessary precision, and
control charts may get so out of control that they become
self-aware and rise up against humankind.
Okay,that last point may have been... Continue Reading
Probability. It's really the heart and soul of most statistical
analyses. Anytime you get a
p-value, you're dealing with a probability. The probability is
telling you how likely it was (or will be) for an event to occur.
It has numerous applications across a wide variety of areas. But
today I want to focus on the probability of a specific event.
A basketball tournament.
I’ll be using the Sagarin...Continue Reading
What is an interaction? It’s when the effect of one factor
depends on the level of another factor. Interactions are important
when you’re performing ANOVA, DOE, or a regression analysis.
Without them, your model may be missing an important term that
helps explain variability in the response!
For example, let’s consider 3-point shooting in the NBA. We
previously saw that the number of 3-point... Continue Reading
Any time you see a process
changing, it's important to determine why. Is it indicative of a
long term trend, or is it a fad that you can ignore since it will
be gone shortly?
For example, in the 2014 NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs beat
the two-time defending champion Miami Heat by attempting more
3-pointers (23.6 per game) than any championship team in league
history. In the 2015 regular... Continue Reading
College Football Playoff technically doesn't start until December
31st, but in reality it started Saturday night in Indianapolis. The
winner of the Big Ten Championship Game was in the playoff, while
the loser was out. The stakes couldn't have been higher. So the
competitors need to make sure they gain every advantage they can.
And that's where 4th down decisions come in. With a lot of... Continue Reading
was a lot at stake in the final week of Big Ten play this week.
Three different games had an impact on not only the Big Ten
Championship Game, but the College Football playoff as well.
Unfortunately for the viewers, none of the games were really close
in the 4th quarter. But that doesn't mean we can't analyze the 4th
down decisions in the first 3 quarters and see whether the losing
teams had... Continue Reading
past weekend in the Big Ten showed how being conservative on 4th
down decisions can cost you a game. Ohio State punted on 4th and 1
three different times, while Penn State and Illinois both kicked
field goals in the 4th quarter when they needed a touchdown to tie
or take the lead. All three teams lost. Perhaps taking some advice
from the 4th down calculator would have greatly benefited them!
If... Continue Reading
use statistics to arm ourselves with more information. That
information allows us to make more informed decisions. And the
sooner we can obtain this information, the better.
For example, suppose one of your manufacturing machines starts
to malfunction and makes your products out of spec. You don't want
to wait until the product reaches customers before you discover
this information. Then it's... Continue Reading
into Saturday, Nebraska was 0-5 in games decided by 7 points or
less and Michigan State was 4-0 in games decided by 7 points or
less. You'll often hear sports analysts use this as proof that one
team chokes under the pressure and the other team knows how to win
in the clutch. But in reality, the result in close games can have
just as much to do with luck as it can skill.
Consider the formula... Continue Reading
and 1. It's a situation where the
Big Ten 4th down calculator will never say to kick
(unless, of course, it's the end of the game and a field goal will
tie or take the lead). But what would it take to have the
statistics suggest a punt? The key here is how far the punt
travels. Last year the average Big Ten punt traveled about 40
yards. Using this value, in your own territory you'll score... Continue Reading
lost another close game, teams continue to incorrectly punt to Ohio
State on 4th and short, and Northwestern keeps making terrible 4th
down decisions. Another regular week for the Big Ten 4th down
In case you haven't read the earlier entries in this series,
I've used Minitab Statistical Software to create
a model to determine the correct 4th down
Big Ten Conference... Continue Reading
4 in the Big Ten featured a couple blowouts, an insane comeback,
and the worst punt in the history of recorded time. But before we
get to all that, here's my weekly blurb on what exactly the 4th
down calculator is.
I've used Minitab Statistical Software to create
a model to determine the correct 4th down decision.
And for the rest of the college football season, I'll use that
model to track... Continue Reading
single Big Ten team played a conference game this week, giving us
the most 4th downs to analyze yet. Last week, 4 of the 6 games were decided by one
possession. This week only 2 of the 7 games were decided by one
possession, so let's see if the losing teams missed opportunities
to keep the game close! But first, a quick refresher on what this
I've used Minitab Statistical Software to... Continue Reading
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