Monday, March 14, 2016

Does Coaching Experience Matter?

One of the things I investigated in the run-up to the Tournament this year was whether coaching experience matters.  My approach was pretty simplistic -- I offered my prediction model information on how a team/coach had performed the previous year in the Tournament to see if that information had any predictive value.  It didn't -- at least for my model.

Over at Harvard Sports Analysis Collective (worth reading, by the way), Kurt Bullard takes a better look at the same question.  He looks at how coaches perform relative to their seeding over their coaching lifetime.  If experience matters, you'd expect coaches with more experience to do better.  But that's not the case -- there's no correlation between how well a coach does and how much experience he has.  (Alternatively, it could be that his experience is factored into the seed his team gets, although I'd argue that's probably not the case.)

At any rate, you might want to be leery of analysts who say that "Michigan State is going to do well in the Tournament because Coach Izzo has more experience than anyone in the Tournament."  Michigan State probably is going to do well -- but that's because the Committee mis-seeded them, not because of Coach Izzo's experience.

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