Friday, April 10, 2015

The Worst Predictions of 2015

While I like to focus on games where my predictor has been very accurate, it's sometimes entertaining to look at the games where it did the worst.  And there are plenty of those.  In fact, there were more than 100 games this year where my prediction was off by over 25 points.

The worst of the lot this year was the January 14 game between Nevada and Colorado State, which I predicted as a 15 point win for Colorado State.  In fact, they won by 56 -- an error of over 40 points.  Looking at the game, it isn't hard to see what went wrong.  Nevada shot just 16% in the first half and was down 55-12 at halftime.  Colorado State eased up in the second half or the damage might have been worse.  As it was, the 56 point victory is the largest in Colorado State history.

But my worst prediction of all time was off by 61, so missing by "only" 40 is not so bad.

A more important game this year was the December 22nd matchup between Kansas and Temple.  Kansas came into the game ranked #10 in the nation and was not expected to have much trouble with Temple, who was 8-4 and had already lost to the likes of UNLV and St. Joe's.  I predicted a 10 point win by Kansas, and Vegas had them as 8 point favorites (climbing a point from the open).  Instead, the Temple guards went crazy, pouring in 54 point en route to a 25 point victory -- an error of 35 points in my prediction.  For the game, Temple shot 58% to Kansas's 32%.

Another terrible prediction occurred the night before the Kansas game when Harvard played Virginia.  I had this as a 15 point Virginia win.  Vegas favored Virginia by 10.  Harvard was a good team -- they finished the season 22-8 after barely losing to UNC in the Tournament -- but Tony Bennett's team put on a defensive clinic for the ages.  They held Harvard to a single basket in the first half and 8 of 50 (16%!) shooting for the night.  Virginia won by 49 -- a 34 point error for me, but at least I was closer than Vegas.

These sorts of games demonstrate that predicting college basketball is really difficult.  There's just a lot of variance and random factors that go into the final score, and you can't get too worked up over the occasional terrible result!

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