Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fun With Math

With March Madness going on down south and NHL playoffs just around the corner, we took it upon ourselves to have a little bit of fun with probabilities and extrapolate things to the CIS University Cup.  Below are the unofficial chances for each team this week.

These aren't meant to be insulting to any team, and every team has a fighting chance which is why the games are played. The numbers are based on a variety of factors, including strong weight on head-to-head match-ups, win/loss records, and University Cup history.  Remember, winning the University Cup usually (but not always) means winning three separate best-of-one games (not best of 5 or best of 7 which tend to favour the better teams).  We didn't exlude the chance of a 2-1 team winning gold, we just feel it very unlikely this year given the pools.

As with the Vegas odds-maker models, there's always an element of subjectivity involved, so your numbers may vary, but we feel these are fairly reasonable guesses and are supported by evidence in recent CIS history.  For example, we gave UNB just under a 60% chance vs STFX if those teams meet in the finals, but we gave Alberta an 80% chance of beating McGill.  Finally, a team's chances at winning gold obviously improve dramatically with each win at the tournament.

Here are the unofficial, for-discussion-purposes-only, no-money-back-guarantee-implied chances for each of the 6 teams:

1.  UNB 31.9%
2.  STFX 23.6%
3. Alberta 22.8%
4. Calgary 11.3%
5. Western 5.62%
6. McGill 4.78%

Western being higher might surprise a few people given how McGill handled them pretty easily in the OUA Final.  This has more to do with the fact McGill is in the pool of death with STFX and Alberta, and if they were to emerge victorious, would have a higher likelihood of facing UNB in the final than Western again.  So the road to gold is a big challenge for McGill.  We actually gave McGill a better chance of winning head-to-head vs Western if those two teams meet in the final.

Also note, there is a 68% chance that a team other than UNB wins Nationals.  This is actually quite appropriate.  According to Steven Knowles (the CIS University Cup history guru), since 1979-80, the #1 seed has won gold only 8 times.  Further, the host team has only won 8 times out of 48 years, with Alberta doing so in both 2005 and 2006.  So history does not favour the V-Reds.

All this means absolutely nothing when the puck drops tomorrow, but might make for some good hockey-talk today, in what's sure to be the longest workday of the year for many of us.

See things a bit differently?  Let us know in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Good job guys. Although I'm quite certain UNB wasn't the No. 1 seed when they won in Thunder Bay in 2009. I believe that distinction belonged to Alberta. said...

You are right! Must have been gauged by the final media poll before the playoffs...
Changes made. Thanks.

Eric said...

ALB moved to #1 after UNB lost to SMU in the AUS Finals. UNB was seeded #5 and LKD #6.

The LKD Committee tried to have SMU seeded #1 (first 'internal' seedings), but the CIS objected and ALB was seeded #1 instead in the official announcement. A side story to the 2009 tournament.

UNB Bruins Fan said...

I'm curious as to why Calgary is two times as likely to win than Western.
They are both in the same pool, Western is seeded higher and had the better regular season, Western has had more success at the University Cup, and Western played UNB closer the last time they met (albeit two years ago) than Calgary did either time this season. said...

Hi UNB Bruins Fan,

This one stood out to me too at first. Comes down to perceived strength of conference based on recent CW vs OUA history (both exhibition and nationals), how likely they are to beat certain opponents in the tournament, not just how likely they are to win vs teams in their own conference, and wins vs other teams at the tournament this year. For example, Calgary holds wins over Alberta this year, Western has wins over nobody at Nationals this year.

Western might very well be much better than Calgary, but they don't get much respect for beating up on Ryerson, RMC, Brock, Queens, and Toronto while Calgary holds wins over teams like Manitoba, Sask, and Alberta.

I suspect OUA will continue to not get much respect until they consistently perform better vs CW/AUS teams, not just 1 win every 4 or 5 head to head matchups.

Admittedly, that could be a flaw in the system though, if the OUA competition is indeed tougher than the CW competition this year.

Personally, I felt Alberta would come in at #2, the math didn't work that way though, and I didn't go back force it to.

See this kind of thing in NCAA Football all the time, rightly or wrongly.