Monday, November 28, 2022

Luck or Skill?

For years, we've been interested in Ken Pomeroy's "luck" ranking -- which is how he measures the difference between a team's actual record and what its record should have been given its offensive and defensive efficiency.  Pomeroy calls it "luck" because he believes that a team's record in close games is largely a matter of luck.  But for many fans, when you watch your team lose one close game after another, it doesn't feel like luck at all.

Take Kansas and Kentucky.  Here are the luck ratings for each team since 2015.  There are around 355 teams in the rankings, and the higher you rank, the better you did in close games:

2016:  Kansas 75, Kentucky 288
2017:  Kansas 32, Kentucky 175
2018:  Kansas 23, Kentucky 199
2019:  Kansas 26, Kentucky 98
2020:  Kansas 79, Kentucky 138
2021:  Kansas 44, Kentucky 354
2022:  Kansas 88, Kentucky 279
2023 (so far):  Kansas 25, Kentucky 323

Now I have to say that this does not look like "luck" at all.  Every year, Kansas is one of the best teams in the country at winning close games -- between 2016 and 2022, they never finished worse than 88th, and four of those years they finished in the top 50.  By contrast, UK is terrible at winning those games -- they only cracked the top 150 twice, and their best performance (98th in 2019) is worse than Kansas's worst performance (88th in 2022).

Remarkably, UK appears to be getting worse in this category.  In 2019 and 2020, the Cats' record was slightly better than its efficiency would predict.  But since then, UK has fallen off a cliff.  This will likely be the third season in a row where UK is one of the worst teams in the country in terms of "luck."

Of course, if Pomeroy's right, and it's all luck, then there's not much anyone can do about it.  But those figures don't look like luck to me.

The SEC/ACC Challenge

Since ESPN is going to soon lose the rights to the Big 10, it is revamping the college basketball schedule.  Instead of the traditional ACC/Big 10 Challenge, starting in the 2023-24 season we will have an SEC/ACC challenge.  From the perspective of Kentucky fans, this will mean that UK and Duke may play each other on home courts.  Kentucky hasn't played at Cameron Indoor Stadium since December 8, 1958, when the Cats won 78-64.  Duke hasn't played UK in a regular season game in Lexington since December 2, 1957, when the Cats won 78-74 on their way to the 1958 National Championship.  On the other hand, Duke did play UK at Rupp Arena on March 13, 1980 in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.  UK was ranked number 4; Duke was ranked number 14.  The Blue Devils beat the Cats 55-54 in one of the most heartbreaking tournament losses I can remember.

It would also be interesting to see UK play a regular season game against UVA.  UVA hasn't played UK in Lexington since December 3, 1966, when the Cats won 104-84.  UK hasn't played at Virginia since December 4, 1965 -- the dedication for Virginia's University Hall -- when the Cats won 99-73.

KHSAA Football Finals

This week the KHSAA will play its football championships at what I still think of as Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington.  Here are the finalists, along with some notes about teams from western Kentucky.  MaxPreps rankings are in parentheses:

Friday, December 2:
Class 1A:  (19) Pikeville (11-2) v. (28) Raceland (13-1), 11 A.M. Central
Crittenden County lost 24-12 in the quarter-finals in Louisville against Holy Cross (Louisville).

Class 2A:  (20) Beechwood (13-1) v. (23) Mayfield (14-0), 3 P.M. Central
Murray lost 49-14 at Mayfield in the Round of 16.

Class 4A:  (6) Corbin (14-0) v. (11) Boyle Co. (12-2), 7 P.M. Central
Madisonville lost 28-17 at Warren East in the Round of 16
Hopkinsville lost 21-7 at Logan Co. in the Round of 16

Saturday, December 3:
Class 3A:  (7) Christian Academy-Louisville (14-0) v. (16) Bardstown (14-0), 11 A.M. Central
Union Co. lost 66-33 at Bardstown in the quarter-finals.
Paducah Tilghman lost 30-24 at Christian Academy-Louisville in the quarter-finals.

Class 6A:  (4) Lou. Male (10-4) v. (9) Bullitt East (13-1), 3 P.M. Central
No western Kentucky interest here.  But for the record, (3) Trinity lost 10-7 at Bryan Station in the quarter-finals.  (2) St. X lost 22-21 at home in overtime to Male in the Round of 16.  (8) Lou. Ballard looked to have Male beaten in the semi-finals, but a late fumble gave Male a 24-20 victory.

Class 5A:  (1) Lex. Douglass (14-0) v. (5) Bowling Green (12-2), 7 P.M. Central
(17) Owensboro lost 14-2 at Douglass in the state semi-finals.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

1968: Gammy In Paducah

I just want to say that I really loved this Holiday Inn in Paducah. We ate in the restaurant there (as well as the not-pictured Steak-'n'-Egg in the parking lot) several times when I was growing up, and I swam in its pool once or twice. Also, I'm glad the weather was nice for Gammy. 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

1975: NFL Monday Night Football

After getting Cardinals over Eagles on Channel 12 and Colts over Bills and then Dolphins over Jets on Channel 6 on Sunday afternoon, now we have Cowboys at Chiefs on Channel 3 on Monday night to close Week 8 action in the National Football League. But, in fact, I'm not optimistic about getting to watch much of tonight's game given the short-fuse deadline on this writing assignment from Frank Gifford ...

Here are the previous and future 1975 reports.