Kevin Rudy

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 »

Over the weekend Penn State men's basketball coach Pat Chambers had some strong words about a foul that went against his team in a 76-73 loss against Maryland. Chambers called it “The worst call I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” and he wasn’t alone in his thinking. Even sports media members with no affiliation to Penn State agreed with him. This wasn't the first time this season Chambers has... Continue Reading
In the past week there has been a big commotion over this article that shows since 2007 the Patriots have fumbled at rate that is extremely lower than the rest of the NFL. Why 2007? Because that’s the year the NFL changed their policies to allow every team to use their own footballs, even when they were playing on the road. So if the Patriots were going to try to gain an advantage by deflating... Continue Reading

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Last Friday I had an interesting tweet come across my Twitter feed. And that was before the Patriots failed to cover their first playoff game of 2015 against the Ravens. When you include that, the record becomes 3-11, good for a winning percentage of only 21%! With the Patriots set to play another playoff game against the Colts, it seems like the smart thing to do is to bet the Colts to cover. But... Continue Reading
Throughout the college football season, I’ve been looking at the influence of the preseason AP Poll on rankings later in the season. Each analysis found a positive association between preseason rankings and the current rankings. That is, between top-ranked teams with a similar number of losses, teams ranked higher in the preseason are also ranked higher in current polls. The biggest exception is... Continue Reading
College basketball season tips off today, and for the second straight season Kentucky is the #1 ranked preseason team in the AP poll. Last year Kentucky did not live up to that ranking in the regular season, going 24-10 and earning a lowly 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. But then, in the tournament, they overachieved and made a run all the way to the championship game...before losing... Continue Reading
The college football playoff committee waited until the end of October to release their first top 25 rankings. One of the reasons for waiting so far into the season was that the committee would rank the teams off of actual games and wouldn’t be influenced by preseason rankings. At least, that was the idea. Earlier this year, I found that the final AP poll was correlated with the preseason AP poll.... Continue Reading
A few weeks ago I looked at how the preseason college football poll influences the rankings at the end of the year. I found that for the most part, the teams that ranked higher in the preseason tend to be ranked higher going into the postseason. So if Team A and Team B both finish the regular season undefeated, the team that was ranked higher in the preseason tends to be the one ranked higher... Continue Reading
The no-hitter is one of the most impressive feats in baseball. It’s no easy task to face more than 27 batters without letting one of them get a hit. So naturally, no-hitters don’t occur very often. In fact, since 1900 there has been an average of only about 2 no-hitters per year. But what if you had the opportunity to bet that one wouldn’t occur? That’s exactly what happened to sportswriter C. Trent... Continue Reading
A mere 10 seasons ago, USC and Oklahoma opened the college football season ranked #1 and #2 in the preseason AP Poll and the Coaches Poll. They remained there the entire regular season, as neither lost a game. But as chance would have it, they weren’t the only undefeated teams that year. Both Auburn and Utah went undefeated, but neither could crack the top 2, and Oklahoma and USC went on to play... Continue Reading
Previously, we looked at how accurate fantasy football rankings were for quarterbacks and tight ends. We found out that rankings for quarterbacks were quite accurate, with most of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the preseason finishing in the top 5 at the end of the season. Tight end rankings had more variation, with 36% of the top 5 preseason tight ends (over the last 5 years) actually finishing... Continue Reading
The calendar just flipped to August, meaning it’s time to get ready for fantasy football season! As you prepare for your draft, you will no doubt be looking at all sorts of rankings. But when the season is over, do you ever go back and see how accurate those rankings were? And are rankings for some positions more accurate than others? Well that’s exactly what we’re going to find out! I went back... Continue Reading
A few weeks ago I looked at the number of goals that were being scored in the World Cup. At the time there were 2.9 goals per game, which was the highest since 1970. Unfortunately for spectators who enjoyed the higher scoring goals, this did not last. By the end, the average had fallen to 2.7 goals per game, the same amount scored in the 1998 World Cup. After such a high-scoring start, the goals... Continue Reading
The 2014 World Cup has gotten off to a high-scoring start. Through the first week of the tournament, an average of 2.9 goals have been scored per game, the highest since 1970. And if that average climbs to over 3 goals per game, this’ll be the highest scoring World Cup since 1958! So is this year’s World Cup actually bucking a trend of the low scoring tournaments that came before it, or can we... Continue Reading
A recent study has indicated that female-named hurricanes kill more people than male hurricanes. Of course, the title of that article (and other articles like it) is a bit misleading. The study found a significant interaction between the damage caused by the storm and the perceived masculinity or femininity of the hurricane names. So don’t be confused by stories that suggest all... Continue Reading
From 1985 until 2013, the NBA Finals used a 2-3-2 format to decide the NBA Champion. That is, the first 2 games are played at one team’s arena, followed by 3 in a row at the other team’s, then the last two at the first team’s. However, this year they are changing to the 2-2-1-1-1 format, where each team plays 2 of the first four games at home, then they alternate each game for games 5-7. So how... Continue Reading
We’re in the thick of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which means hockey fans are doing what seems to be every sports fan's favorite hobby...complaining about the refs! While most complaints, such as “We’re not getting any of the close calls!” are subjective and hard to get data for, there's one question that we should be able to answer objectively with a statistical analysis: Are hockey penalties... Continue Reading
Connecticut just defeated Kentucky to win the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. The game had the highest combined seeding of any championship game in NCAA tournament history. This shows that while a single elimination tournament can be very entertaining, it doesn’t always determine who the “best” team is. In fact, despite winning the championship, Connecticut is still ranked 8th in the Pomeroy Ra... Continue Reading
Once again it’s time for the madness of March to begin! Which teams have the best shot of going to the final four? Is there a team that might become this year’s Florida Gulf Coast? And do any of the 16 seeds have a realistic shot of beating a 1 seed? Well sit back, because we’re going to answer all of that and more!  Somebody tell Cinderella to get her glass slippers, it’s time to go dancing! Which... Continue Reading
Two months ago, I used Ken Pomeroy’s luck statistic to analyze the “luckiest” and “unluckiest” teams in college basketball. What Ken’s luck statistic is really looking at is close games. If you win most of your close games, you'll have a high luck statistic in the Pomeroy Ratings. Lose most of your close games, and your luck statistic will be low. I looked at the winning percentages in close games... Continue Reading
Back in November, I wrote about why running the football doesn’t cause you to win games in the NFL. I used binary logistic regression to look at the relationship between rush attempts (both by the lead rusher and by the team) and wins. The results showed that the model for rush attempts by the lead rusher and wins fit the data poorly. But the model for team rush attempts and wins did fit the data... Continue Reading