Tag Archives: basketball

Duke's National Championship team went to the White House this year. Carolina couldn't make it. Public Domain Image.

Duke-Carolina Rivalry: Keeping Score

Tonight is the first of at least two meetings between Duke and UNC’s men’s basketball teams this year. I predicted Duke had a 60% chance to win at least one of these games, given the consensus that Carolina fields a better team this year. I think that’s still a bit of an underestimate, as that equates to Carolina having a 63% chance to win each game, which seems a bit high, given how competitive these games usually are.  Moreover, against common opponents this year, Duke is 7-3 to UNC’s 8-2.  Carolina certainly has the advantage at home tonight (and with only 6 Duke players playing more than 5 minutes), though it’s unlikely to be a blowout.

Let’s talk about the rivalry. Duke and Carolina have played 240 men’s basketball games against each other, with UNC currently winning the series 133-107.  But I contend this fact is not relevant because more distant sports results tend to fade from memory and importance over time.  It’s the most recent outcomes that everyone talks about…

2015 ncaa national championship

Duke's National Championship team went to the White House this year. Carolina couldn't make it. Public Domain Image.

Duke’s National Championship team went to the White House this year. Carolina couldn’t make it. Public Domain Image.

And last year, guess who not only won a national championship, but who also swept their rivals? The Blue Devils. Of course, dominance in the last year can’t define an entire rivalry, so let’s look at the last couple years. Since 2014, who has done better? Duke is up 3-1.  But what if what really matters is the last 3, 4, or 5 years? Duke 5-1, 6-2, 8-3. In fact, we can keep this trend going:

last <Y> years last <x> games Dating Back To Duke record
1  2 2015  2-0
2  4  2014  3-1
3  6  2013  5-1
4  8  2012  6-2
5  11  2011  8-3
6  13  2010  10-3
7  15  2009  10-5
8  17  2008  11-6
9  19  2007  11-8
10  21  2006  12-9
12  25  2004  15-10
14  31  2002  20-11
16  36  2000  24-12
18  42  1998  28-14
20  46  1996  29-17
25  58  1991  34-24
30  60  1986  39-31
35  71  1981  42-39
38  82  1978  47-45
39  85  1977  47-48

Duke has a winning record against Carolina over the last X years, where X is any number of years you’d care about.

Since UNC’s Class of 2019 was born, UNC is about 14-28 against Duke. Since their seniors were born, UNC is 21-29 against Duke. Their lives have been defined by an era of Blue Devil Dominance (for the first few years of current seniors’ lives, UNC did have a winning record against Duke, which means, as far as this rivalry in concerned, their glory days were during preschool, something they share with many other Tar Heels).

You might hear a stat on ESPN tonight that “dating back to 1977, this rivalry is tied!” That’s because you literally have to go back to 1977 to get a tie in the rivalry, Duke has been so dominant recently. But hey, if you count all the games going back to the Ford administration, the Tar Heels are right there with them!

So when Carolina fans brag about how their team is better for having gone undefeated in 1957, an era where lasers and zip codes hadn’t yet been invented, or having won 6 national titles to Duke’s 5 since they count that ultra-competitive 1924 season which was only retroactively declared a championship 20 years later, let them have this. They’ve been getting crushed by Duke for the last 38 years, it’s only fair.


Credit Michael Tipton, Used and Licensed under CC-BY-SA

The NBA Should Shorten Their Season


Did you know that the NBA has the best YouTube channel of any major North American sport? This is remarkable considering it is a distant third in terms of revenue.  It’s also a fascinating exercise in fan outreach, as the NBA actively encourages fan-made videos and other content while other sports use restrictive copyrights to make themselves the sole distributor of content. In addition to these policies (and the fact that I like basketball), it’s worth noting that while football is clearly the king of team sports in the US (especially if you include college football), there’s a risk that increased awareness of concussions and other injuries could cause football to lose out on revenue in the future. This could happen through changes in demand, with fewer people wanting to watch football, or changes in supply, as fewer athletes want to play. If you think it can’t happen, don’t forget that boxing used to be one of America’s most dominant sports.

Will this same fate happen to football? It’s impossible to know, but as a basketball fan, I hope the NBA is be prepared to try and take over that market space.  Before they are under the spotlight and the opportunity passes, they should implement some reforms. An important one would be the shortening of the season. Continue reading

Choosing Sides: NBA Finals Edition

For the first time in eight years, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made the NBA Finals. As a Heat fan who got to watch the greatest player, perhaps ever, in his prime bring my team to the NBA Finals four years in a row, it’s weird to see Lebron leading the Cavs.  And now I’m faced with the question of whether to root for him or not. Continue reading

Updated Links

I’ve updated the links to add a new section for reference websites that aren’t updated in the same way blogs are.  All of the new sites listed under “Reference” I would highly recommend, but for different reasons.

Basketball-reference.com is the best way to get basketball stats hands-down. If you are at all into sports data, this site has data on games, teams, players, and coaches for college and professional levels going back decades. It even has more advanced stats, pace-adjusted, whatever you could want for free.

Learn Liberty, Libertarianism.org, and the Library of Economics and Liberty are awesome libertarian/economic websites. Libertarianism.org (run by the Cato Institute) is the best site for introductory essays discussing libertarianism and classical liberalism, and Learn Liberty (run by IHS) is similar but with an emphasis on videos.  The Library of Economics and Liberty has tons of publications from classical liberal thinkers going back centuries.

Steve Gibson’s Sci-Fi Book Guide is a list of science fiction novels compiled by computer security expert Steve Gibson (whose Podcast is in my blog list).  It’s different from your normal sci-fi book list and I’ve enjoyed his recommendations so far. I plan on having a more in depth blog on sci-fi novels soon.

Things Every CS Major Should Know is a way too long of a list of things that I don’t know, but an excellent guide for self education for anyone interested in computers and coding.  Professor Might’s blog is awesome but is often more technical than I need, so I don’t have it in my blog list.

I’d also like to highlight one relatively new addition to my blog links: Slate Star Codex. Scott Alexander, the author of this blog, is the most impressive writer I’ve seen in a blogger.  He writes volumes, and has an emphasis on rationality and rhetoric.  He’s also libertarian leaning, but I would describe his position as rational, libertarian-leaning political skeptic. I would highly recommend his blog.

Does Tom Thibodeau work his players too hard?

Last night, the Heat held the Bulls to their lowest point total ever in a postseason game (65), as well as lowest field goal percentage ever (25.7%).  And this happened while Dwyane Wade has bone bruises on his left knee. After the game Wade spoke with the media: “When you have a [bone] bruise, you try to move the kneecap over so it won’t rub When you get into game sweat you have to re-tape it a bit.” Ouch.

But speaking of injuries, the clearest cause of the Bulls’ troubles has been the plethora of health problems their team is facing. Derek Rose has been out for a year, and Luol Deng has been sidelined after a health scare relating to a spinal tap he had done.  Until recently, Joakim Noah was sidelined with plantar fasciitis.  Kirk Hinrich’s calf has been bothering him for a while now. Derek Rose has been cleared medically to play for months now, but has yet to play in a real game.

Is it possible that Bulls Coach Thibodeau worked his players too hard this year? It’s certainly a possibility.  Thibodeau’s trademark defensive strategy is one of the best in the league, and in the past 2 years prior, with a healthy Rose, the Bulls obtained the top record in the East.  It’s undisputed that the Bulls push themselves hard in every game, but could that strategy backfire?  Injuries are a function of exhaustion, age, and randomness.  The Lakers this year certainly saw the results of a combined ancient team with a lack of depth. Almost every player on the Lakers saw time on the bench due to injury, not least of all Kobe Bryant’s crushing torn ligament at the end of the season after the 35 year old had been playing minutes in the high 30s all year.

But the Bulls are not an old team, especially in comparison to the Heat, which leaves exhaustion and randomness. The injury to Derek Rose could be a source of extra minutes to other Bulls players this past year, resulting in them being more injury prone. And Tom Thibodeau has a history of pushing his players hard in the regular season. On the other hand, Luol Deng’s injury was a medical freak accident which could not have been foreseen.  And sometimes injuries just pile up and there isn’t a lot to be done.

If it is random, then it is likely we will see the Bulls be much better next year, especially if/when Derek Rose returns.  But if the Bulls continue to fall short due to injuries, there may be a deeper root of the problem.

Some great links

Haven’t written much this weekend, but I’ve got some nice links to check out. In the politics and econ areas, I highly recommend this article from Reason about the End of Power.  Also check out this Op-Ed from the NY Times from an actual Gitmo detainee.

In the cool techie things department, reddit has compiled a beautiful list of so-called internet tricks, that everyone should know.

If Bitcoin is your thing, after all the volatility last week, some people have gotten together to build an open source Bitcoin exchange to help alleviate some of the problems experienced by the community. Here is the reddit link, and here is the project on github.  I’m also writing a short paper on Bitcoin and virtual currencies for my CS seminar, so if you have cool articles, feel free to tweet @mjelgart.

Finally, in basketball news, the Heat have wrapped up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Somehow, after winning a championship last year, they are even better then they’ve ever been before. Look at these numbers. The Heat are really good right now. As a Miami native, I cannot wait for the playoffs to start this weekend.