Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 9, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

ABSOLUTELY FINAL BCS UPDATE....So we all know that LSU edged out USC for the #2 spot in the BCS. We also know that six of the seven computers that are part of the BCS formula ranked LSU ahead of USC, and the margin was so close that if even one of those computers had switched its ranking then USC would have come out ahead.

Today, though, Chris Dufresne of the LA Times digs deeper and answers the real question for stat heads: how close were the computer rankings? Not just #2 vs. #3, but the actual numerical scores computed internally by the computer programs. Here's the answer for four of the computers:

LSU Score

USC Score

Colley Matrix

.88160

.87636

Peter Wolfe

7.032

6.789

Seattle Times

.776

.760

Richard Billingsley

300.683

300.567

Talk about your game of inches. Colley Matrix had LSU ahead by .4% and Billingsley had LSU ahead by .04%. Ouch.

So in the end the whole thing turned on a single game: Notre Dame vs. Syracuse. If Notre Dame had won, Colley Matrix would have ended up ranking USC slightly higher than LSU. The same is likely true if Hawaii had beaten Boise State.

Of course, if USC had come out on top, LSU fans could do the same number crunching and be equally aggrieved. But I'm not an LSU fan, am I?

Kevin Drum 9:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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