Sunday, March 15, 2009

Homer and the Heels Index

Or How Losing to FSU was the Perfect Plan!

I have a friend nicknamed Homer who is a looooong-time Duke fan because he went to geek-camp there when he was 12 or something. He emailed after the Heels lost to FSU:

"Buddy of mine has always sensibly insisted that it's best to lose no later than Saturday in the acc tournament, better even than winning the whole thing."

UPDATE: The Homer Theory Rolls On

Wisco 61, FSU 59;
UNC 101, Radford 58

Really? Cuz as of yesterday, that's me! Let's do an Index!

The first NCAA tourney that allowed 'at large' teams (ie, more than one team per conference) was 1974. We'll use that era to look at "Homer Teams", which is the why-not name we'll use for teams that "lost "no later than Saturday in the acc tournament" ie, non ACC-tourney finalist.

Homer Teams Vs ACC Runner-Ups

22: NCAA tourneys since 1974 (35 years) in which an ACC Homer Team advanced farther than the ACC runner-up.
6: NCAA tourney in which an ACC Homer Team tied the Runner-up's performance.
7: Number of times that the ACC Runner-up had a better tourney run than any ACC Homer Team.


60: Percent of NCAA tourneys in which a Homer Team outperformed the ACC runner-up.
80: Percent including 'ties', i.e. years that an ACC Homer Team advanced at least as far as the ACC runner-up.

And more recently...

81.25: Percent of years since 1992 that Homer team out-performed ACC Runner-up (no ties).

Lesson - 4 out of 5 times in the modern NCAA era, at least one ACC team that lost "no later than Saturday in the ACC tournament" has performed as well or better than the team that lost on Sunday. And since 1992, a Homer team has almost always performed better.

That's abjectly bad news for today's runner-up (please Duke please Duke please Duke!), because only one team is the RU each year. Those numbers are YOURS.

It's a bit trickier for would-be Homer team, since ever tourney (since expansion) produces 10 Homer-candidates that lose "no later than Saturday," and at least two or three of them generally make the tourney.
The trick is to be the right one.

Homer Teams vs. ACC Champions

9: NCAA tourney's since 1974 when an ACC "Homer Team" has been the best performing ACC entry (ie, advanced farther than both the ACC Champ and runner-up)
12: Same stat, including "ties" (Homer team equals performance of ACC Champ and runner-up)
6: Those occurances since 1990 (meaning that 2/3s of the best Homer runs have occured in less than half of the tourneys).
7: Same stat, with ties

Homer Lesson#2 - Since 1990, a Homer team has outperformed the ACC finalists in the NCAAs slightly more than 1/3 of the time... about what you'd expect if the two finalists and the next best team were all taken as 'equals.'

Technically, this fails the Homer Theory, but only the part about it being "better than winning the whole thing".

Runner-up: First loser. Again.

5: NCAA tourney since 1974 when the ACC runner-up was the top performing ACC team in the NCAA tournament, or 1/7 years.
0: Same stat, since 1996.
5: Homer teams that had the best NCAA run since 1996.
Homer Lesson #3 - Don't be the Runner-up

Final Championship Index

9: NCAA Championships won by ACC teams since 1974

5: NCAA Titles won by ACC Champs
2: NCAA Titles won by ACC Runner-ups
2: NCAA TItles won by ACC Homer Teams... including the last two (UMD 02, UNC 05)

So Cheer up, Heels - we got'em right where we want'em!

ACC's NCAA CHAMPS (ACC tourney result)
- 1974 NC State (Champ)
- 1982 UNC (Champ)
- 1983 NC State (Champ)
- 1991 Duke (RU)
- 1992 Duke (Champ)
- 1993 UNC (RU)
- 2001 Duke (Champ)
- 2002 Maryland (Homer Team)
- 2005 UNC (Homer Team)

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