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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 »

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
Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner! But instead of trying to break down and predict the outcome of the game (which will likely come down to turnovers, which are impossible to predict), I’m going to look at some different statistics from previous Super Bowls. How many close games have there been? How much has the price for a 30-second add increased over the years? Which state has hosted... Continue Reading
College basketball stat guru Ken Pomeroy uses advanced metrics to rank every NCAA Division I basketball team. Amongst the numerous statistics he tracks is one called "Luck." This statistic is calculated as the difference between a team’s actual winning percentage, and what one would expect their winning percentage to be based on how many points they score and how many they allow. What it really... Continue Reading
“Turnovers are like ex-wives. The more you have, the more they cost you.” – Dave Widell, former Dallas Cowboys lineman It doesn’t take witty insight from a former NFL player to realize how big an impact turnovers can have in a football game. Every time an announcer talks about “Keys to the Game,” winning the turnover battle is one of them. And as Cowboys fans know all too well, an ill-timed... Continue Reading
If you’re a believer that Peyton Manning plays worse in cold weather, the last few weeks have only strengthened your resolve. In 3 of his last 4 games, he’s played in temperatures below 40 degrees, and come out with a record of 1-2. In his other “warm weather” games this season, Manning has a record of 10-1. This continues a theme that has plagued Manning his entire career, that he underperforms... Continue Reading
If you're scared this is what the playoff will look like, just remind yourself that Georgia Southern beat Florida this year without completing a pass. Auburn beat Alabama this past weekend in one of the most incredible endings you’ll ever see. The stakes couldn't have been higher. With the defeat, Alabama lost any realistic shot at playing for the national championship this year. However, if this... Continue Reading
I know we lost by 2 touchdowns, but if only you had given Peterson 3 more carries we would have won! Last week, ESPN ran an article about why the running game still matters. They used statistics to show that the more you run the football in the NFL, the more likely you are to win the game. Specifically, if you have a running back who gets at least 20 carries, you win about 70% of the... Continue Reading
Last week I took a look at some different aspects of overtime in college football. I found that most games only last one overtime period, home field advantage still exists, and that the team that gets the ball 2nd has an advantage. Now I want to continue the data analysis and ask some more questions. Specifically, how many points do teams combine for in overtime, and does the team that ties the... Continue Reading
Two weeks ago Penn State and Michigan played in a quadruple-overtime thriller that almost went into a 5th overtime. Had Penn State coach Bill O’Brien kicked a field goal in the 4th overtime instead of going for it on 4th and 1, the game would have continued. But the Nittany Lions converted the 4th down (which, by the way, wasn’t a gamble) and went on to score the game winning touchdown in the 4th... Continue Reading
If you like football and you like video games, you must certainly be aware of the “Madden Curse.” Each year, EA Sports releases a new version of Madden, a video game based on the National Football League. Each version of Madden features a different NFL player on the cover of the game. And it seems that each year, the player featured on the cover gets hurt or has a terrible season. Thus,... Continue Reading
On Saturday, September 8, 2012, Penn State football player Sam Ficken had a kicker’s worst nightmare. Playing against Virginia, he missed 4 field goals, including the potential game-winner as the game ended. To add injury to insult, he also had an extra point blocked. Penn State lost the game by a single point. At that point in his career, Ficken had made 2 out of his 7 field goal attempts. That... Continue Reading
In the world of Six Sigma, we’re always looking to improve our process. Whether it’s increasing the strength of building materials or improving the way calls are processed in a call center, it’s always a good idea to use a data-driven analysis to determine the best solution to your process. The same is true for the NFL. Two years ago, the NFL decided to move kickoffs up from the 30 yard line to the... Continue Reading
Ever start a fantasy football draft and realize that passing touchdowns are worth 6 points, not 4? Or how about realizing at the last minute that the commissioner of your league decided to have a point per reception (PPR) league. We know that this year running backs are going to be going early in the draft. But if your league is a PPR or gives 6 points for a passing touchdown, should you... Continue Reading
When it comes to fantasy football, there is a common statistical term that comes up again and again. It’s "variation." From season to season, week to week, and even quarter to quarter, NFL players can be very inconsistent. This can make selecting your fantasy team as much about luck as it is about skill. Nobody has a crystal ball that reveals who will be fantasy sleepers and fantasy busts in the... Continue Reading
Last week I used Minitab's paired t test to compare how quarterbacks and running backs performed the season after finishing in the top 3 in fantasy points. Quarterbacks did not perform significantly worse, while running backs scored about 80 fewer points and finished ranked 8.7 spots lower than their top 3 year. Now it's time to move on to wide receivers and tight ends. Will they follow suit and... Continue Reading