Coming Soon: The Mid-Major Conference

If you don’t follow college basketball at all – if you seriously pick 16 seeds to win first-round games over 1’s and pick teams based on whether you like their names or mascots – this post is NOT for you. It gets into a lot of esoterica that you probably wouldn’t care for. But if you’re one of those people who have been clamoring for me to put up some of my numerous projects, today is your lucky day!

Turn on any random regular season college basketball game, and chances are it’s a game involving teams from one of the six high-major conferences. If you get some other conference you probably live in or near it. It’s teams from the six biggest conferences that get the most NCAA Tournament bids, and it’s teams from those six conferences – the same ones that make up the BCS conferences in college football – that get the most attention. They’re the teams from the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Pac-10, Big 12, and Big East.

But… there are a lot of conferences outside the Big Six. Conferences with names like the MEAC, the SWAC, the WAC, the Southland, the Big South, the Big Sky, Horizon, America East, Atlantic 10… that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Every year, teams from these conferences shock the world by beating Big Six conference teams in the NCAA tournament. They valiantly fight their way to bids in the NCAA Tournament, even if they don’t win their conference, and people get mad at them because they think all the bids should go to Big Six teams. Teams like Gonzaga have consistently proved the mettle of teams in the mid-majors by beating the odds and having high levels of success.

In fact, if you took all the best teams from the mid-major conferences and put them in one super-conference… that conference would probably have to be considered on a level with the Big Six conferences, maybe better.

So, at the end of the season, after the Final Four, I will name the eight teams to make up the 2007 Mid-Major Conference. It won’t have any bearing on anything right now – there’s no reward, monetary or otherwise, and it isn’t anything more than something on paper – and probably won’t even be heard of beyond the small group of people who read Da Blog. The goal is to recognize eight teams whose quality of play competes with those in the best conferences in the country.

There are some simple, but restrictive rules governing the selection of the MMC teams, with restrictions higher on the list taking precedence:

  • The Mid-Major Conference shall consist of eight teams representing the best of college basketball, outside the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10, and SEC conferences.
  • No conference shall have more than one team in the MMC.
  • Any conference that produces at least one at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament will be represented.
  • Any team that makes it to the Regional Semifinal (“Sweet 16”) or later in the NCAA tournament will automatically be represented. In the case of a conflict between two or more deserving teams under this criterion, the team to have advanced the furthest shall be counted. If two teams from the same conference advance the same distance in the NCAA tournament, the tie is broken by head-to-head record and respective distance traveled in the conference tournament.
  • If conferences with automatic spots under the third criterion have no qualifying teams under the fourth, the tie is broken in this order: whether or not any teams won their first-round tournament game, head-to-head record, respective distance traveled in the conference tournament.
  • If spots remain in the Mid-Major Conference after these criteria have been exhausted, or if there remains a tie in a conference under the third criterion after the criteria in the fourth or fifth criterion have been exhausted, the remaining selections will be made by my discretion. Being in the NCAA Tournament is not a qualification for being selected to the MMC, and in fact it is possible (but rare) for a team that won its first-round game to not get in the MMC while a team that settled for a long NIT run does. This is the “Northwestern State Rule”: getting lucky in one game doesn’t get you an automatic spot in the MMC.

Update on the below "Update"

I never did get around to writing up any sort of defense. I’m going to be leaving the Seattle University residence halls over the weekend and will likely not really bother much with Da Blog until the summer, because of restrictions on my Internet access.

About the only thing I’m certain to take on for Da Blog is a project that I’ll provide more details on before too long.

Update on my current situation

I’ve gotten into big trouble, which could be an understatement. I may be forced to move out of on-campus housing soon. I intend to write up an impassioned defense over the weekend and intend to post it on Da Blog after presenting it on Monday.

If I do get kicked out, it may hamper my ability to work on Da Blog at all.

Although the poll got more responses in one week than comments have produced over the entire time I’ve solicited for them to pick a blog topic or project to post, it still seemed pretty pathetic. In any event, right now I’m not really in the mood for trying to focus on Da Blog, so I won’t be putting up a more serious poll or really paying close attention to what people are saying until this blows over, whatever outcome it may have.

An almost three-year-old poem and the by-now-weekly update on Da Blog

Here’s a poem I wrote in Summer 2004:

45 Degrees on Port

It is sunny.
Several families watch
For the cargo to approach.
A boat rocks
Over the horizon.

It is rainy.
There will be no sailing today.
Far beneath the waters,
A school of fish waits
For their catch for a change.

It is cloudy.
Sailors don’t know what to make
Of the white sky,
For the old saying about red skies
Never said a thing about white.

It is snowy.
No sailor has been here
For two months.
Beautiful patterns appear
On the water.

Gripping, isn’t it?

Well, since I’ve only gotten a smattering of responses, it’s not as though I’m really catering to very many people. In fact, while I’m extending my request to find out what projects you’re interested in (two posts down) for another week, I’m also taking a special sample poll, available on the right side of Da Blog, to find out if I’m even going about this the right way.

I’m a root beer guy, myself…

The random, venting, irrelevant to anything post you have to read

There are a lot of things I don’t take well. Imperfection is one of them. Brain-dead idiocy is another.

I don’t always react to such things, but if I’m already in a bad mood, I might. Generally speaking, if I lash out about it, it’s usually with a bunch of random finger gestures thrown vigorously in your direction.

If you feel threatened, don’t be. No matter how vigorous it gets, it almost never gets more extreme than that, and you’re in no danger if no one takes it to some really dumb extreme. Also, the mere act of doing that is a form of calming me down in many circumstances.

If it isn’t, though, and I don’t storm out of the room, shut up and don’t say anything that might make you look stupid. And don’t dare try and suggest you have a problem with it, that’ll just make me madder.

Because you shouldn’t have a problem with it. You shouldn’t have a problem with anything anyone does. I don’t believe there should be any one definition of “normal”, and I think people should be open-minded enough to accept anything that doesn’t kill them.

The original topic poll I refer to in various posts below is now closed with no resolution, so if the results of the new poll in the post immediately below raise too many problems with me, I’ll reopen it. Also, I’m modifying Da Blog to show 10 posts per page instead of 7, and I should be hitting 100 page views any minute now.

Update on the future of Da Blog

Of the three total responses I’ve received, I received two requests for more information on my “grandiose projects”, one of which actually contrasted it to mere coverage of sports, as though covering projects precluded covering sports.

Getting grandiose projects is a given no matter which topic gets chosen. It isn’t really a topic in itself, and I don’t know that I’m confident enough to simply lay them all on you, not to mention that I wouldn’t know where to start or what to put on or anything. (By September at the latest, you’ll have a very good view on just how grandiose my projects can get, regardless of final topic.)

So what I think I’m going to do is extend this another 24 hours, looking for some clarification as to what projects I would want to post. But I’m also instituting a new poll. Below is a list of just some projects I have and are working on. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but it’s intended to provide a list of options and provide a feel for what I mean. Tell me if you want to see any of these projects or any similar ones you want to suggest in an area of your interest.

  • Ranking the presidential candidates (see the post immediately below)
  • Whether Sports Watcher should continue
  • Ranking America’s professional sports leagues
  • A different, maybe insane, method of determining champions in certain team sports, closer to the methods used in combat sports like boxing and wrestling
  • Determining the greatest movies of all time from a composite of other similar lists (I can also come up with other “greatest lists” even if they’re limited to my own opinion. Inquire within!)
  • Any kind of simulated tournament, or any kind of simulated game.
  • Or you can help me iron out the rules for a new sport I’m developing.
  • I actually have already written some short poems and stories.
  • And the proverbial much, much more!

I’m setting the deadline for this new poll for Friday night at midnight Pacific, with an option to extend if I get another dearth of replies.

Ranking the Presidential Candidates… not!

I’m not really a political junkie, but I do pay a lot of attention when election season rolls around. We’re just two years away from a unique election cycle, when neither a sitting president nor vice-president will be running for president.

As with most of the things I’m intensely interested in, I have a project I’m working on for it. In this case, it’s a ranking of the potential nominees from each party based on their chances of winning the nomination. Positions on the issues play no role in this; I base it entirely on polls and fundraising.

And right now, both are failing me. The FEC’s web site doesn’t yet contain any financial data for the current election cycle. As for polling, it works very well near the top but is worthless at the very bottom.

Consider this ABC-Washington Post poll. Note that there are six Republican candidates that got 1% in the poll and three that got 0%. The sample size of Republicans is 344, so 1.72 would be the number of respondents that represents .5% of the poll, anything below which shows up here as 0%. How am I supposed to separate those three at 0% when they either got 0 or 1 person saying their name?

It gets worse. The threshhold for 1.5% would be 5.16 respondents. Therefore all those people at 1% got 2, 3, 4, or 5 respondents saying their name. I am left to assume that the poll results are sub-sorted by how many respondents said a name, but ties still exist, and worse, if they’re in alphabetical order, I don’t know which comparisons of two back-to-back candidates represent ties and which represent a different number of respondents! And it all reflects the luck of the draw! I’m ignoring margin of error in my rankings but even I can’t ignore this!

This poll was conducted on a national sample of 1000 adults. That’s how many should be polled from each party. The poll’s total sample should be closer to 2500.

Then I got an idea. Perhaps we could combine the results from several polls, thus adding to the sample size and lowering the margin of error. The chances of two polls contacting the same person are astronomical, so it’s like taking one big poll. For example, there are three similar polls from this month in the same field: the Gallup Poll has 412 Republican respondents, and the Zogby Poll has 301 Republican respondents. All have, ultimately, the same problem, but when you add their sample size together you get 344+412+301=1057 respondents in the sample. That means 5.285 respondents represent .5%, enough for some separation, weak though it may seem; meanwhile, 15.855 respondents represent 1.5%, enough to rest easy that six candidates would have at least some separation.

I would love to be the person to create this “superpoll”, which would be important far beyond this context, but unfortunately, the sort of raw data of pure numbers of respondents is treated as fairly proprietary. Either I have to get into a subscription service to get them (always for a fee) or they don’t offer it at all. Why, I’m not sure. I could guesstimate it by weighting the results of the various polls, but it’s an inexact science to say the least.

Which leaves nothing for me to work with, at least in the back of the field, but the analysis of others. I know it’s early and a lot can change, but predicting the future isn’t my priority so much as determining what’s going on right now, despite my emphasis on fundraising. Judging by polls from 2004, the sample size of polls won’t be increasing from here, though it might see a little more separation. It probably won’t get there very quickly, though – not with a field of this size.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 1/20-21

This is an experiment that, should the topic of Da Blog ultimately fit it (and maybe even if it doesn’t), will become a regular feature every Friday. I’ll hand out my picks for the go-to sports to watch for the weekend. I choose only one game between competing games, and choose as many sports as possible within those parameters. All times PST.

Saturday
12:30-3 AM: Tennis, Australian Open, 3rd round play (ESPN). Assuming you don’t need too much sleep, of course.

9-11 AM: College Basketball, Louisville @ DePaul (ESPN). Combine for a 5-4 conference record. Really just a warmup for the next two parts of the tripleheader.

11 AM-1 PM: College Basketball, Wisconsin @ Illinois (ESPN). What the hell is Wisconsin doing with a power basketball program? This is their best record in over ninety years.

1-3 PM: College Basketball, Arizona @ UCLA (FSN). Arizona’s Marcus Williams not only is a Seattle product, he went to my high school. I never saw a game, only heard of him secondhand before last year, don’t like the idea of being a fan of whatever school you went to, and loathe many of my old high school traditions with a passion, yet I still find myself following the Wildcats. (Did I mention that this is a matchup of the top two RPI teams in the country?)

4-7 PM: College Football, East-West Shrine Game (ESPN2). One of college football’s many all-star games. What exactly is it? I don’t have a clue.

7-10 PM: Tennis, Australian Open, octofinal play (ESPN2). If tennis was as huge in this country as it is in some others, networks would be falling over themselves to put this in primetime. Especially with the new and improved Andy Roddick and Serena Williams likely to show up either here or in the insomniac session.

Sunday
12:30-3:30 AM: Tennis, Australian Open, octofinal play (ESPN2). Insomniac Special time!

10-11:30 AM: PBA Bowling, Dick Weber Open (ESPN). The football just barely overlaps with the basketball, so why not watch people roll really heavy balls around? Here’s one thing I might say about the PBA: When 9-spare is considered heartbreaking, maybe the competition is too good. That’s the problem with the pro versions of stuff a significant number of ordinary people do.

12-3:30 PM: NFL Football, New Orleans @ Chicago (FOX). Clearly the same teams go to the Super Bowl year after year in the NFL. Sure, 3 of the last 4 NFC champions were going into their first Super Bowls ever, but these two teams combine for a whopping 1 Super Bowl appearances. Yeah, I know, but that one appearance was only, oh, 20 years ago.

3:30-7 PM: NFL Football, New England at Indianapolis (CBS). Yes, the Colts under Manning have never been to the Super Bowl, yes, they’ve never beaten the Patriots in the playoffs, and yes, Peyton Manning is not the Manning we’re used to in these playoffs. But they’re at home!

After Football: Let two weeks of unending Super Bowl hype begin…

Well, this is embarassing…

I was going to make a final decision on the topic of Da Blog on Friday (today, as most of you read this), but I’m instituting an extension because I just recently advertised my prior posts on the topic in the “About me” section on the right sidebar, which in turn was because 43 visitors to Da Blog have added up to one comment so far. You can now make comments until 9 PM PT (midnight ET, since New York Is The Center Of The Universe) on Sunday. (I might not collect the votes until later, though.)

You can also comment on what you want Da Blog to be about to this post. I will post a preview of what will happen if you don’t comment later on Friday. If it lines up with what you want, comment on it anyway, because I will only institute it if I get 0 acceptable comments, so even a tie only means I’ll probably institute both.

(Note that, as they say on Wikipedia, “this is not a vote”. I am ultimately the final arbiter of what I post on, and I will always dip into fields different from my primary focus. As time passes that sharp focus may fade as Da Blog becomes more general and I begin to dip into a wide variety of fields on a regular basis.)

Also, I’m switching Da Counter to show unique visitors rather than hits (which have reached the 70’s), because hits by now are a given – I’ll probably hit 100 by this time next week. I’ve gotten at least two hits for at least the past seven days and have been stabilizing at 4 a day recently. Unless the counter is misinterpreting people without cookies as separate people, which can’t be the whole truth, most of these people appear to be first timers. Which, you know, is good for a number of reasons, but it is also kinda bad, because now only 40% of my hits over the life of Da Blog are repeat customers. Which makes me worried that people are stopping by but aren’t intrigued enough to come back! Which comes back to my blog topic poll, where you can give them a reason to come back.