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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Prediction Model 1.0

A meteorologist and a statistician agreed on a bet. Before the start of the year they would each guess the weather conditions for each day of the next year, and whoever was closer would win. To the meteorologist's surprise, despite studying charts and trends and the position of the earth relative to Venus, he was beaten by the statistician. He asked the statistician how he was better able to guess the weather and the statistician replied -- I predicted that the weather each day would be just like that from the day before.

Prediction model 1.0 is based on this very simple assumption. It assumes that a team that won in their last game is more likely to win again, and a team that lost is more likely to lose, such that:

If G(t-1) = W and OG(t-1) = L then G(t) = W and
If G(t-1) = L and OG(t-1) = W then G(t) = L

where G(x) is the outcome of the given game.

Frequently, both teams will have won or lost in their last game, and in these circumstances I have given preference to the home team, such that:

If G(t-1) = OG(t-1) then If H(t) = H then G(t) = W and
If G(t-1) = OG(t-1) then If H(t) = A then G(t) = L

Results:

I applied the formula to six conferences in week 5 of the 2007 college football season. I counted every performance by a team in those conferences uniquely, such that if two teams in those conferences played, the results would be double counted. Of 61 games, PM 1.0 accurately predicted 39, or 63.9% of the outcomes. Not too shabby for an extremely simple model in a week filled with upsets.

It also picked upsets of Colorado over Oklahoma, Illinois over Penn State, Florida State over Alabama, and South Florida over West Virginia.

Notable picks from PM 1.0 for week 6:

Illinois over Wisconsin. This one seems perfectly reasonable to me. Illinois at home with tons of young talent coming off a win against Penn State against an overranked Wisconsin team that needs to lose.

Syracuse over West Virginia. Don't underestimate the Orange. If PM 1.0 proves prophetic they could run away with the Big East title and still be one of the worst teams in college football.

Tennessee over Georgia. The Vols are slow and Georgia is playing well, but don't underestimate the importance of home field.

South Carolina over Kentucky and LSU over Florida. Who would have thought that the second biggest game of the week would involve Kentucky? The SEC seems to have a monopoly recently on interesting match ups.

Texas/Oklahoma tie. No home field advantage to decide the tie breaker so, defying the regulations of the sport, Texas and Oklahoma are supposed to break even.

And the pick of the week:
Duke defeats Wake Forest


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