John Urschel plays offensive line for the Baltimore Ravens in the fall and works on his Ph.D. in Mathematics at MIT the rest of the year. He joins me for a conversation on football analytics and his math research. Topics include the acoustic operator in those Bose commercials with J.J. Watt, the NFL's progress in video tracking data and the hidden factor in his making the NFL.
Coach Charles Ramsey, former head coach at Eastern Michigan, joins the show to discuss the 2017 Final Four. He discusses how these are "microwavable" times, the strength of Gonzaga's backcourt and the importance of assistant coaches with experience.
JJ Zachariason, the editor-in-chief at numberFire, joins me for a multi-faceted conversation. He gives his take on the NCAA tournament, but we spend most of the conversation on NFL free agency. Topics include Cleveland's offensive line signings, Brandin Cooks, and JJ's biggest story this free agency season.
Which 8 seed could wreck your bracket? Which conference does numbers hate? What surprising resource should you consult in picking potential tournament winners? I dig into the top stories heading into the 2017 NCAA men's basketball tournament.
SB Nation writer and analytics director Bill Connelly joins the show to discuss his new book The 50 Best College Football Teams of All Time. Our conversation ranges from how he picked these teams to college football analytics to social justice issues.
I discuss my research on how to win your March Madness pool. First, I talk about whether the tournament can be predicted at all. It's called March Madness for a reason. Then I look at the kinds of pools you want to enter. Get this wrong, and the best analytics can't save you. Finally, I tell you about the contrarian strategies you need to win medium sized pools. Ryan Peters from Omaha, Nebraska joins me to discuss how he used my methods to win his pool.
In this Man vs Machine episode, Adam Stanco, producer at the Pac-12 Network and true hoops junkie, joins me to talk college basketball. He discusses the 5 factors he looks for in teams that could win the NCAA tournament. Then we discuss the prospects of the top contenders for the 2017 tournament, both by The Power Rank's numbers and Adam's detailed breakdowns.
Keith Goldner is the Chief Analyst at numberFire and Director of Analytics at FanDuel. He joins me this week to discuss numberFire's methods for predicting football games and their prediction for the Super Bowl. He does a particularly good job explaining the idea of expected points in football.
In David Halberstam's book The Education of a Coach, he tells how a young Bill Belichick encouraged his New York Giants defense to let Buffalo's Thurman Thomas rush for 100 yards in the Super Bowl. I discuss the relevance to this year's Super Bowl between Belichick's New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Additional topics include whether either defense can slow down the opposing offense, and the relative importance of passing versus rushing in the NFL.
Rufus Peabody, professional sports gambler and ESPN predictive sports analytics expert, joins me on this week's show. He discusses his Massey-Peabody predictions for the NFL playoff games, and we find Green Bay at Atlanta particularly interesting. Rufus also reveals some new work on home field advantage that impacts this game.
I'm joined by Dr. Ben Alamar, Director of Sports Analytics at ESPN. Ben tells us how he got into the sports analytics and the good work ESPN does with FPI (Football Power Rank), an advanced ranking and prediction system. He gives predictions for all 4 NFL Divisional Playoff games and advice on how to break into sports analytics.
Cade Massey, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, runs the Massey-Peabody site for football rankings and predictions. We discuss his predictions for the college football title game between Alabama and Clemson as well as his outlook for the 2017 NFL Playoffs. Cade also discusses the humility he has learned from building a football model.