19 February 2014

NCAA ranks mid February 14

10)Ohio St14-6
13)Michigan St12-5
14)Wichita St9-0
20)Oklahoma St7-10
21)Iowa St11-5
23)North Carolina10-5-2

Arizona is still holding up at the top. Though they will start falling back more with the Ashley injury. Without them at the top, there will be a very muddy title shot pick. Kansas right now would be my favorite to win it, mostly because they should have the top 2 picks in the next draft class. But I wouldn't feel very solid about it. Followed by Florida and Arizona. 

Creighton keeps blitzing Villanova to get a huge boost in the computer ranks. I don't think they're #2, but they're in that next cluster. 

Louisville must not have played any of the better teams in that conference (UC, SMU, Memphis, Connecticut), because they just do not have a tough schedule. 

Highest unranked team is Pitt, followed by Oklahoma St (which has lost 7 in a row now). 

Ranked teams
31) San Diego St 6-2
27) Saint Louis 6-2
29) Texas 11-6
32) Memphis 4-6

Early bubble thoughts. 
There's a thick mixture of teams around 20-50 that are not that far apart. Some of those are very safe (Iowa St, Cincinnati, North Carolina), some need only to right the ship (Oklahoma St), and others are most likely out of the field in a few weeks (Arkansas, BYU, Florida St). The bubble itself looks like a total of 5 spots for about 20 teams. Of these, Baylor, West Virginia, and Oklahoma St could all get in as they have many opportunities to play their way in, and St John's looks to be playing well. Most everybody else, your guess is as good as mine. What this does say is that I continue to think two things
1) There's no reason to expand the field further to ensure competitive teams get in. Most of the teams that don't make it will not be very good anyway. 
2) There's little reason those teams should complain if they don't get in. Virginia was the only team I think was snubbed last year but I had them as no better than a 10 seed, which isn't much of a snub. The year before, it was Arizona, which I had as a 12 seed, and Middle Tennessee (a minor conference powerhouse that lost in their tournament). 

The committee does a decent job slotting teams into the field is the point (but generally a terrible job seeding them) 

09 February 2014

Who watches the Olympics anyway?

So based on studies from last time, my suspicions of the current Winter Games' audience are confirmed: 

1) Mostly women are watching (or at least more women than men)
2) Mostly older people are watching. 
2a) In fact an incredible percentage of older people are watching. 

My guesses for why
1) Most of the winter sports are kind of dull to watch. There isn't usually that much hockey coverage compared to figure skating, as the premier events, and that's really about it outside of snowboard/skiing stuff that's marginally exciting to a casual fan of winter sports. The Summer Olympics are all over the place with stuff to do or see which tends to be a little more interesting to someone (gymnastics, volleyball, swimming/diving, track, basketball, plus all the "niche" stuff like fencing or water polo). I think this pushes out non-casual sports fans who can just keep watching basketball games in the winter (hockey goes on break), and those hardline sports fans are skewed mostly male. I don't think the "dramatic stories" style of coverage for all Olympics actually has much of of a gendered bias so much as that men just find something else more exciting sports wise to watch. 

1a) There's also more obvious sex appeal in the summer games, as competitors aren't bundled up. I don't know if this effects the summer/winter skew or not. I haven't found that study. I did find studies that suggest the Summer games cover and televise more of the men's events. I can't remember seeing a women's basketball game for instance. And what women's events are covered tend toward the skimpy clothing fare (beach volleyball is really popular, along with swimming/diving and gymnastics). I'd bet these two things mean more men watch the summer games than the winter ones. 

2) Older people are more "patriotic" on average, and inclined to share in patriotic displays, which the Olympics clearly are. Younger people are more inclined to express views that are not as heavily dipped in "American exceptionalism" to care that much about patriotic displays. 

3) Older people have more nostalgic feelings toward the games, when they were once a soft power expression of the Cold War and can be associated with competition against clear global rivals (the Eastern Bloc). Running jokes about the judges from Poland or East Germany make less sense to a 25 year old today. China doesn't really have the same potency at the Winter games, which are more clearly a set of rich nation sports, so there's not as big of a soft power rival (I mean, really, who hates Norway or Germany that much in the US?). This cuts down on casual interest from younger people I would suspect. 

For what it's worth, I'm not planning on watching very much of this, if at all. It's prime basketball season, with both the All-Star game and college basketball in its stretch run. I was mostly noting the sources of commentary through social media conformed to a certain set. 

06 February 2014

NCAA ranks



8)Michigan St11-3


11)Ohio St10-4-1
14)Wichita St7-0
17)Oklahoma St8-6
19)Iowa St10-4


23)Saint Louis5-2


25)Arizona St6-6

Ranks for the week. Duke jumped up somewhat or Arizona dropped somewhat. Syracuse has actually dropped slightly. The second batch of teams looks a little more like the order I'd put them in manually with Louisville and Kansas on top of it.

Ohio St and Wisconsin are the highest unranked teams (both are ranked in the coaches).

Ranked teams out of 25
26) San Diego St 7-1
29) Texas   7-4
28) Oklahoma 7-6
31) Memphis 3-5

The AP/Coaches polls have actually done pretty well (once they dropped Baylor finally). These teams are not that far outside the top tier. SDSU is probably better than 26th actually too, but they're really poor on LRMC. 

02 February 2014

PSH death.

Argument I have a hard time understanding in the wake of PSH death: 

Heroin is somehow used because it is considered "cool". 

If we discount the (common) prospect of people who become addicted to opiate painkillers who moved up the ladder to heroin, the overwhelming percentage of any substance abuse is out of self-management of sometimes very serious mental disorders and the associated social problems. Since heroin has an addiction potential that's roughly that of nicotine (eg, very high relative to many other drugs), and since it is illegal and thus difficult to get in a pure and reasonably safe unadulterated form, it's really hard to imagine people rationally deciding one day "yes that sounds good, let's try that" as a large base of its use. 

Not to mention that there are almost zero positive cultural references to it. 

Consider the following movies and TV shows. 
Pulp Fiction - famous OD sequence. 
Trainspotting - famous for dead baby. Famous for toilet diving sequence
Requiem for a Dream - famous for sex sequence involving public sex and a double dildo
The Wire - Various homeless or near homeless characters are the only users depicted, dealers/bystanders being shot or shot at, several overdoses, hot shot with poison involved
American Gangster - gang war, police corruption, main character selling goes to prison
Traffic - police corruption, daughter becomes addict, steals jewelry, trades sex for drugs

Ray might be the closest heroin comes to getting a "this is okay", and even there, someone ODs and Ray is using for a basis other than creative potential in musical style and has to clean up his addiction both for legal and personal reasons. 

Compare this to cocaine, which may be used by sketchier characters certainly but seems to have very few negative consequences of these types (both in movies and to some extent, in reality). Sherlock Holmes used cocaine. Jordan Belfort uses cocaine and a bunch of other stuff. Raoul Duke does cocaine and most of pharmacy. Malcolm X does cocaine. Scarface has a huge pile of the stuff. And so on down the list. Sometimes this has negative effects to the plot, sometimes it just establishes the character as a bit edgy or strange. Rarely is it "someone OD'd on cocaine" or "someone does something totally absurd", as is common with a marijuana or alcohol reference. 

Hoffman like many artists in a now stereotypical description sounds like he was somehow troubled personally in order to create and hone his craft. There's some correlation with artists, which skilled non-Tom Cruise actors are, and various forms of depression, mania, anxiety, and so on through the litany of mental woes and abuses that we may inflict upon ourselves with our minds. I imagine for actors or actresses it is particularly likely as the skill set for concealing depression from our friends or loved ones while in public is essentially the same as acting. Better practiced perhaps, but similar. This doesn't mean that people in Hollywood use drugs or have drug problems because it's cool and awesome. It suggests that people in Hollywood use drugs or have drug problems for much the same reasons people elsewhere do but that the concentration of creative people means a couple problems emerge.

1) It's more readily available because some of these people are earning a lot of money and could "afford" a drug habit

2) It's more readily available because there are more people with such problems in one place and who co-mingle to work together. 
3) It's less likely to be seen as an impediment to the work than the underlying conditions that they're using it for. 

That last is possibly true for people in other professions as well, those are just more often professions that will drug test employees and fire them over negative test results. If we understand drug abuse, and addiction as a portion or a symptom of larger mental health issues, it's harder to stigmatize the depression or bipolar disorder or any of various social anxieties and perhaps easier to send people off for healthier ways to manage these concerns rather than they remain unacknowledged. 

01 February 2014

NCAA ranks

(as always, this is a composite ranking, it's not that complicated to do, and the records are top 100 only for wins, with losses outside the top 100 listed separately).


2) Duke

3) Iowa5-5
4) Creighton11-3
5) Michigan St11-2
6) Kansas11-4

7) Louisville

8) Oklahoma St 9-4
9) Syracuse11-0
10) Michigan8-3-1
11) Pittsburgh8-3
12) Villanova11-2
13) Wichita St5-0
14) Florida8-2
15) UCLA6-4
16) Wisconsin10-3-1
17) Ohio St8-5

18) Kentucky

19) Virginia8-5
20) Iowa St8-4
21) Cincinnati6-2

22) Gonzaga

23) Arizona St6-5
24) Connecticut7-3-1
25) Saint Louis3-2

Virginia is the highest listed team that's unranked. Probably because they're a very slow, boring team.

There's a huge glob of teams clustered together. After Arizona, it's actually a tight group over the next 20. This does not bode well for predicting the field later in the year as there aren't any dominating teams to run with into the deeper rounds who have separated from the pack. Other than Arizona, which has a very good defence, #2 right now after St Louis, and a good offence, nobody stands out. Duke and Creighton both have very good offenses and mediocre defenses, in the way that Michigan did last year (and also this year). Otherwise, the field is fairly balanced and not overwhelming. 

The gap after the top 20 or so isn't very high at all either. Teams are migrating on and off my bubble watch as teams to even keep track of with regularity still. North Carolina was toast a couple weeks ago. They're now a top 40 team. This means there's a very soft bubble rather than a hard "these teams should be in" so as many as 10-15 teams will be sweating on Selection Sunday.

A further note is that there's a grouping of sub-100 teams in the minor conferences that could be likely upset specials (Harvard, Green Bay, Delaware, Toledo, Stephen Austin, UCSB, North Dakota, and Manhattan, plus Belmont and a couple others that are lurking around the top 100 that might drop down as they beat up on their conferences and other teams drop down). These are teams that will have to win their conferences/tournaments to get in but they won't be easy outs if they do.

Ranked Teams outside my top 25. 
26) San Diego St 7-1 (#5 in the polls)
34) Massachusetts 8-3 (loss this week should drop them out)
29) Memphis 3-4
32) Oklahoma 8-4
43) Texas 7-4

Quick NBA note
I assuming Indiana is signing Bynum because they want to screw the Heat. Based on how he was playing earlier in the year, he can't be useful (for them, Miami could potentially use him if Oden doesn't pan out). This could hurt them later though as they could use the slot/cash for someone else in a trade perhaps. Depends some on what they can do with Granger, who hasn't played well. The team that would scare me if I am Indiana right now isn't Miami, it's Oklahoma City with Durant and a healthy Westbrook.