A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Sport Theory

March Madness as a Playoff System

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Candy

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I’ve previously analyzed the playoff systems of the 4 major professional sports leagues in the US, looking at fairness, which I’ve defined as follows:

Ideal fairness means that we get rid of the unevenness of the regular season schedule without adding too much randomness.  If you’ve got a variety of divisions or conferences that hardly play against each other, the idea that you can have a single champion without a playoff tournament of some sort is absurd – but of course playoffs in some sense always mean throwing out a larger sample size for a smaller one, which never entirely good.

We’re in March Madness season so it’s worth considering college basketball’s playoff system, arguably the most successful in terms of financial gains relative to regular season. This happens to be a particularly good season to consider this because all of the favorites are gone. Every team left has at least 8 losses, which either indicates a stunning amount of parity, or a ridiculous amount of luck.

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American Playoff Systems: Closure or Chaos?

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Created by Jason R Remy (Jayron32)

Image via Wikipedia

Last week we saw the two #1 seeds in NFL lose in their first (and thus only) playoff game of the season.  Just a few weeks ago I wrote a post talking about just how good one of them, the New England Patriots, was compared with history.  Am I shocked they lost?  Not really given what I know about the NFL playoffs – it’s not uncommon for favorites to lose in the playoffs.

This event though has made a few people start thinking about the system we have and its pros and cons.  Joe Posnanski over at SI writes a great thought provoking article on the matter, its implications to the BCS, and on what playoffs mean in general.  In one line he asks:  “Is a playoff really MORE FAIR? What does fair even mean?”

Fairness in Competition = Removing Bias while Minimizing Randomness

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