Can Something Cease Cassius Winston?

WASHINGTON — At the end it was Cassius Winston, all alone, dribbling out the clock on Michigan State’s 68-67 victory against Duke on Sunday. With 4.7 seconds left, up by one, Michigan State passed the ball out of bounds to Winston, who did the rest. The Blue Devils could not foul him because they could not catch him. Four NBA draft prospects chased Winston around the court until he heaved the ball upward as the buzzer sounded.

The team that vanquished the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed lost its second-leading scorer, Joshua Langford, in late December. Its third-leading scorer, Nick Ward, missed the last five regular-season games with a hand injury. At that point, it looked less likely every day that Tom Izzo would take the Spartans to his eighth Final Four. But they remained standing Sunday because Winston just kept doing more.

The junior point guard is second to Murray State’s Ja Morant in assist rate, at 45.4 percent. He is second to Duke’s Zion Williamson in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rating stat, among players with at least 28 percent of possessions used and 40 percent of minutes played. “He is as good a player as we’ve played against,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in a press conference after the game on Sunday.

When Langford’s season ended, Winston found another level. He played four more minutes per game and averaged 2 more points. He took one extra shot per game but did not drop significantly in his shooting percentage. He drove to the basket more and shot 52 percent on 2-pointers. And he maintained his assist clip despite the absence of his best playmaker. Outside of Winston and Ward, who now comes off the bench, no active Spartan was averaging double-digit scoring entering Sunday. (Sophomore big man Xavier Tillman scored 19 on Sunday, though.) Winston’s combination of passing and scoring efficiency makes him an outlier among high-major players.

Even with Winston, this Michigan State team does not look the part of a No. 2 seed in the Final Four — certainly not one that can knock off high-powered Duke. This is Izzo’s seventh top-two seed in the NCAA Tournament. Only one of the first six did not have a player selected in that year’s NBA draft, but this team does not have a sure draft pick. Before the tournament started, the 6-foot-1 Winston was Michigan State’s highest-rated player in ESPN’s draft rankings, at No. 87. “You’d line up and I’m not sure you’d pick him out to be one of the best basketball players in the country, but when you watch the things he does and the way he handles himself and the IQ that he has, which is off the charts, he’s found a way to be a hell of a player,” Izzo said at the press conference Sunday.

On Sunday, the Blue Devils were taller and more athletic at almost every position. They were the spectacle of the college basketball season. They had four players in the top 30 of those draft rankings, led by Williamson at No. 1. Yet, after Sunday’s loss, the presumptive top pick told reporters Winston “took over.”

Winston finished the Duke game with 20 points and 10 assists, pushing his four-game NCAA Tournament total to 76 points and 31 assists. Since the tournament expanded in 1985, only one other player — Billy Donovan for Providence in 1987 — has averaged 19 points and seven assists in four wins leading to the Final Four.

When Langford was out and Ward was sidelined or limited, Winston’s workload became a concern. But with one weekend left in the season, Winston hasn’t slowed down yet. He has battled knee tendinitis for most of the season yet started every game. He injured his toe and foot in the regular-season finale against Michigan on March 9 but still led Michigan State to the Big Ten tournament title. “He carries the locker room, and he has a lot on his plate,” Michigan State freshman Aaron Henry told me before the Duke game. “He does a good job of getting everybody involved and helping us win games.”

After Winston ended Duke’s season, Krzyzewski took the point guard’s impact beyond numbers. “He’s able to run what Tom is thinking in real time and feel the game, and that’s really one of the biggest gifts a player can give a coach,” he said. Krzyzewski, who typically relies on four freshmen, hinted at another theme of this year’s Final Four: experience. With the exception of Henry and Gabe Brown, everyone in the Spartans’ rotation has played together for at least two seasons.

On that inbounds play with 4.7 seconds left, in front of Duke’s bench, Tillman subtly motioned for Winston to speed up the floor for the pass, which allowed Winston to run out the clock. “I think he was telling everybody what to do,” Winston said afterward. “He was looking at me telling me to go this way, go this way.”

Added Krzyzewski: “I thought they played older than we did. But that’s happened to us — we’re young.” The Spartans played solid defense, limited turnovers and started and ended the weekend with the ball in Winston’s hands. In this tournament, you could do worse. When Michigan State settled into its locker room, each player with a piece of the net tied to his cap, Brown shouted from his chair, “CASSIUS WINSTON,” as if nothing else needed to be said.

Check out our latest March Madness predictions.

April Fools Day Approaches; Some Greatest Practices Previous…

We are almost at April Fool’s Day, always a chance still for the most creative to casually try their luck at putting one over…in an era of #Fakenews, we will be on the look for some good ones, but here are some best practices in and around sports of years past.

NASCAR driver Aric Almirola hawked Smithfield Brands new “Bacon Crisp Cereal”.  New Orleans Pelican star Anthony Davis sent a video in which he appears to shave his famous eyebrow with a giant Red Bull towel dominating the frame. The Jacksonville Jaguars fake-tweeted a new uniform, a stunt that backfired among some fans who liked the faux duds more than the team’s actual uniforms.

One of the best in 2017 saw former NFL star Randy Moss “announce” he was joining the USL  the Charlotte Independence, dressed in his blue kit with the No. 84 on the back and donning bright yellow gloves just in time for the team’s home opener that weekend.

One year the New York Islanders pretended to forfeit a game and save their travel time to the Minnesota North Stars by announcing on air that they were “mailing in” the two points and not showing up, something which people say some NBA teams have actually done for a regular season game or two the last few years. Then there was the legendary Sidd Finch, created by George Plimpton and the folks at Sports Illustrated.  Sidd’s story, on the cover of SI, became the stuff of legend and was quite believable for the short time, and lives on in video form even today, along with Plimpton’s expanded book on the topic.

In 2003, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got into a shoving match with a phony NBA official during a timeout. Cuban, never one to shy away from controversy, was poking fun at himself for being fined repeatedly for his complaints about NBA officiating. A Mavericks equipment manager restrained Cuban during the fake fight, drawing cheers from the crowd and even a few laughs from the real officials at the game. The Mavericks’ players weren’t in on the April Fools’ Day prank, so Dallas reserve center Evan Eschmeyer rushed to help restrain the man who signs his checks.

One brand that also did a good job to seize the opportunity, although more tongue in cheek, to use April 1 as a platform for sports promotion and to have a little fun. Pirate Brands announced that the New York Mets had “traded” star third baseman David Wright to…well, the Pirates. The press release and all the great digital platforms around it went out on the 31st, and generated some fun buzz and great images for the move, which was essentially a dry announcement about Wright joining the company’s board and getting an equity stake with the group (although they created healthy snack alternatives for kids and worked with Wright’s Foundation). Still, they made something that was not much into something, using the April Fools platform.  There was also a nice college push by LSU several years ago to announce they were turning the turf at Tiger Stadium purple, all equipped with a secret, faster formula to give the football team an even added edge. Great exposure, until the joke came up.

Sean Gleason, CEO of Professional Bull Riders (PBR), informed fans via Facebook last year that the league has been growing so fast it was going to give them even more bang for the buck by doubling the amount of time required for every qualified ride from 8 to 16 seconds, well, the story seemed downright believable to many.

In the spirit of famed former New York electronics retailer, Krazy Eddie, running his Christmas Campaign in August, the league decided to capture fans’ attention by going extra early with its “bull” on Friday, March 30. Gleason teed up a legitimate web story, and in many quarters, all hell broke loose among fans caught completely off guard.

The official website story had realistic quotes from riders and stock contractors, peppered with several giveaway clues to the ruse. The bulls were not available for comment. Reigning PBR World Champion Jess Lockwood would debut the format this coming weekend in Sioux Falls on the bull named, “April Fool’s Day.”

Maybe it was in being out of the gate early on March 30, or the fact that bulls have some funky names (my favorite is the now-retired Chicken on A Chain). Or perhaps we are so intrigued by #FakeNews that our guard is permanently defective. Whatever the reason, many fans were hoodwinked, and PBR became the one league in 2018 to pull off a legitimate April Fool’s Joke.

Those who bought in were incredulous. The sport would be ruined for fixing what’s not broken! And already this season the increasingly powerful bulls have decimated the cowboys. As it is, half of the top 15 is out hurt! What happens when you ask these battered cowboys to ride another eight seconds?

Next to the league’s 2018 schedule announcement, the rules-change ruse was the year’s most-read PBR web site news story.

Being nothing but a bunch of #FakeNews, that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

A Methodology to the Insanity: Predicting NCAA Event Success

By Frank Zhu

It’s time for March Madness. Every year since 1985, tens of millions of brackets attempting to predict the results of 63 college basketball games are submitted, and every year, none has stayed perfect. According to the NCAA, this year was the first year that a bracket has been perfect entering the Sweet Sixteen.

With the stakes in the millions of dollars (or occasionally, a billion dollars), it’s no wonder an online search for “march madness bracket tips” brings up hundreds of thousands of results. This article will test 3 myths of March Madness to help you build your bracket, using NCAA regular season data from 2002 to 2017 gathered from KenPom and Kaggle.

Since teams seeded lower in the NCAA tournament tend to be better than higher seeds, this article uses a metric called performance to adjust for this difference.

Performance is the actual number of games a team won in a tournament minus the average number of games teams with that seeding have historically won in a tournament. On average, each 1st seed has won 3.3 games every tournament. In the case of Virginia last year, they lost in the first round, failing to win a single game. As a result, their performance would be 0 (the number of games won) – 3.3 (games they were expected to win), or -3.3.

Every team which played in the NCAA tournament from 2002 – 2017 was given a performance rating, and each team’s performance was compared to stats such as points scored, points allowed, and team experience to determine which factors predicted tournament success. This article will use R2 as a measure of how well each factor correlates with performance. R2 is a value that falls between 0 and 1, and it represents the percentage of variance explained by the model. The closer it is to 1, the better more closely the factor is related to a team under/over-performing their seeding.

Myth #1: Offense/Defense wins championships.

As seen in the graphs above, having a great offense or a great defense during the regular season are not great predictors of success. The regression of defense vs. performance had an R2  value of .006, and the regression of offense vs. performance had an R2 value of .013, which is close to zero and indicates little correlation.

Furthermore, there is a wide range of performance values for each X value. But what if the key to success is having both a good offense and a good defense? Below is a graph of performance against a team’s combined offensive and defensive rank. Lower is better – if a team ranked first in offense, their offense was the best in the country, and higher ranked teams had worse offenses.

On closer inspection, the R-squared value for the correlation is 0.019, indicating very little correlation. However, the trendline appears to slope upwards, paradoxically indicating a worse offense and defense leads to success.

To resolve this issue, let’s look at four points (highlighted in green) that stand out on the right of the graph – 2012 Norfolk State, 2014 UAB, 2008 San Diego State, and 2005 Bucknell University. What these schools share in common is they caused upsets – 15th seeded Norfolk State knocked off a 2nd seeded Missouri team, UAB and Bucknell were 14th seeds, and 13th seeded San Diego won its first-round matchup against 4th seeded Connecticut.

These four teams are indicative of a wider trend in the data – since expectations for lower-seeded teams are minimal, winning a single game causes them to overperform expectations –  the average games a tournament a 13th, 14th, and 15th seed will win are .234, .125, and .078, respectively. This graph shows being the better team overall is not a guarantee of success – upsets do happen. Let’s take a look at two more myths.

Myth #2: 3-Pointers are the key to success

Like the NBA, college basketball teams are shooting more threes than ever before. Does launching more threes or being accurate from deep lead to more success?

The answer is no. The spread of performance is highly variable. Teams reliant on the three have overperformed, and they have crashed out in the first round. Teams who shoot fewer threes have also overperformed, and they have also lost early. Both the 3-point rate (R2 = 0.0009), which is the number of possessions ended by shooting a three, and the percent of three-pointers made (R2 = 0.0009) did not correlate with a team’s performance.

Myth #3: Experience Matters

Experience is one of those “intangibles” announcers love – and when March Madness pits an underdog team with veteran players versus a team of “one-and-dones” and five-star recruits, it makes for a compelling storyline. But does having a team with more “basketball IQ” and more games under their belts lead to outperforming expectations?

To determine whether experience affects performance, KenPom’s experience metric was used.  Experience (in years) was calculated by taking each team’s players and weighing their class year (0 for a freshman, 1 for a sophomore, etc…) by regular season minutes played. A team with an experience closer to 0 relies more on freshmen, and a team with a higher experience would have more upperclassmen.

From the graph of average team experience (R2 = .0002), there is no correlation between having more experienced players and outperforming expectations. This could be due to the fact that freshmen who declare for the NBA draft after one year – the “one-and-dones” – are typically extremely talented, and their talent could make up for a possible lack of experience.

As a caveat, however, this measure of experience does not take into account two factors: redshirting, which would indicate a player is a class year older than they are, and regular season injuries, which could mean the distribution of minutes is not accurate for the team during the tournament.

So we’ve busted several bracket building myths. Having a great offense or defense (or both) doesn’t predict overperformance. Looking for teams that resemble the Houston Rockets and haul up dozens of threes a game won’t help, and even though cheering for a team with veteran players might be fantastic, there is no discernible effect of player experience on success.

However, at its core, the unpredictability of March Madness is what makes it so entertaining. Regardless if your bracket nails the first 20 games or gets none of them, good luck and enjoy watching!

If you have any questions for Frank about this article, please feel free to reach out to him at frank_zhu@college.harvard.edu

Recap: Hayward, Tatum come via within the clutch, Celtics win at Miami, 112-102

In a nutshell

Maybe the Celtics will be fine in the postseason after all. They were tonight, at least, beating the Heat for the second time in three days, 112-102, at Miami. The Heat desperately needed the game in their chase for the East’s final playoff berth, and the Celts this season have had a bad habit of not matching opponents’ intensity on the road. Tonight, though, they responded with the effort and aggression that we’ve been expecting all season, and earned themselves an impressive W.

Starring for the Celts were Gordon Hayward (25 points, 12-13 FTs, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, +16), Kyrie Irving (23 points), and Al Horford (21/8/4).

The turning point came in the middle of the fourth quarter when Jayson Tatum scored nine straight Celtics points to help the Cs build a 100-94 lead. They rode that all the way home. Taco Jay and Gordo combined for 20 points in the fourth.

The Celtics were without Jaylen Brown (back spasms) and Mook Morris (sore knee), which opened up playing time for Semi Ojeleye and Brad Wanamaker.

What went well

Like they did Monday, the Heat consistently employed a zone defense, but the Celtics attacked it successfully. The Cs repeatedly found open shots in the middle of the zone (they had 44 points in the paint) and by kicking it inside-out for threes (9 of 24).

It may not happen often, but Boston survived the 2nd and 3rd quarters on the road, with a combined 54-50 advantage over the middle 24 minutes. Celtics led by four at halftime and two entering the fourth.

The defense held Goran Dragic to just 11 points. He had 30 on Monday.

Terry Rozier made a three! And Marcus Smart did not attempt a three (except one when he was fouled).

Boston (27 of 31) had a huge free throw advantage over Miami (12 of 20).

What went wrong

It was Dwyane Wade’s final game against the Celtics, which he finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. A highlight was scoring seven straight in the third quarter, but he also got T’d up for beefing with an official. Sayonara, Dwyayayayayane, we won’t miss you.

Miami owned the glass, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds that led to a 25-8 advantage in second-chance points. That kept them in the game on a night when they shot just 41.5%.

Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo combined for 30 points (14-20 shooting) and 27 rebounds. Ouch.

Did you see this?

On Monday, Boston scored 15 straight points to take an early 17-2 lead. Tonight they opened the game with a 9-0 run.

Kyrie being a good guy:

Highlights

Attacking the zone with ball movement:

Box score

MLB Managers, GM’s On Social: Astros, Brodie and Joe Maddon Lead The Means…

Last week we looked at the social imprint March Madness coaches had, and were surprised to see the lack of engagement. So we turned our attention to baseball as Opening Weekend is upon is to see if the social space was more vibrant amongst skippers and even GM’s. Well, not exactly.

While baseball realizes the importance of social engagement, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLBPA have aggressively created new partnerships to help expand the ability for social engagement and sharing amongst players and coaches and staff, the ship is still very slow and steady. For baseball it still appears to be more generational, as time moves along and players who are socially savvy and accustomed to engagement move into the Majors, the numbers will keep rising.

While it is no secret that the folks at MLB Advanced Media continue to use the digital space to enhance the experience of all, there is still a gap in keeping young people interested in a game that can be long, sometimes not that action packed and for the new immigrant (especially the young one in an inner-city) hard to understand at times.

With the transient nature of players in sport, managers, and GM’s for that matter, are becoming more and more of a constant for clubs, as baseball gets started we looked worked with the folks at the Complete SET Agency  to see what teams are doing the social work in the dugout and the Front Office.

First and foremost, the Astros trio of AJ Hinch in the dugout, Jeff Luhnow as GM and as one of the new emerging and proactive faces Alex Bregman, on the field makes for a very unique and engaged group. They are the only team in MLB to have all three spots very active on social. On the GM side there is Luhnow and the Mets Brodie Van Wagenen, and that’s it. No other GM’s have any visible face on social. By the way to get an even better feel of Van Wagenen’s proactive communications strategy, read this piece in the New York Times. Great example of positive communication and inclusivity.

Back to the guys on the field. The 2018 season started with five MLB Managers working the social side, and the new season dawns with that number up to seven. One of the active on social team from last year, the Tigers Brad Ausmus, moved on to the Angels and removed all his social activity. There are no less than 27 fake or burner accounts around the LA skipper, but he is not part of any. Cmon back Brad, you were doing a good job with the conversation in Detroit!

The seven  MLB Managers who are now engaged; Hinch (Hou) , Joe Maddon (Cubs), the Red Sox Alex Cora, Rocco Baldelli (Minn), the Yankees Aaron Boone, the Phillies Gabe Kapler and the Giants Bruce Bochy  are all much more engaged than many of the managers past.  The measuring stick for engagement on the Manager level has been and continues to be Cubs skipper Maddon, whose 400,000 plus followers and quips about things other than baseball have made him a must follow for those around the game.  While not John Calipari-like, Maddon is there and gets the space, and it certainly hasn’t affected his performance on the field.  Boone at 166 k is second, with Hinch, who as slowed engagement since the start of spring training, third at 71 k.

Now as with any form of engagement in the social space, Twitter is not for everyone. The information has to be authentic and consistent and fun, and it certainly isn’t easy to always navigate the trolls out there looking to stir up trouble behind a wall of secrecy. However as a simple and engaging content platform, Twitter for Managers and GM’s can be very, very effective, and can give fans, especially those more used to social engagement, a very fun look into the inner workings of a baseball club, or any sports club for that matter. It does not have to be demanding, it can be a casual and very effective voice without being a shill for the organization as just a promotional tool. While baseball is very much about tradition, and sometimes the powers that be raise some eyebrows with the thought of bucking such traditions, the use of twitter by a larger group of managers can help engage and grow Manfred’s plan, while not encumbering the user in any way. There is no need to give away state secrets, but a tweet or two of a picture from the clubhouse, an insight

on the goings on, positive ones, around the team, a shout out here and there to alma mater, would be a welcome addition to the long season ahead in the social space.

 

Are managers under a good amount of pressure already without having to be forced into engaging in the social space? Maybe. However for those who have an interest, and have looked at the way managers like   Maddon and a GM like Van Wagenen   have handled the space, turning more than a minority loose on Twitter could be a fun and engaging project as the season comes up.

 

Tweet away front office folks, we would love to learn and see more from your perspective.

HSAC’s 68 Information: March Insanity 2019

By Danny Blumenthal

March is upon us, which means that it’s time for HSAC’s annual article surveying the field of 68 to help you fill out your bracket. Here are the facts and figures that make this year’s teams unique:

Overall Trends

1.) Be wary of choosing teams that started the season outside the Top 25, such as Texas Tech, Houston, Marquette, and Wisconsin. According to HSAC’s analysis, teams that outperform their preseason rank often underperform in the tournament.

2.) It’s critical to make free throws in close games, and over the last 10 years, every champion has been above average in free throw percentage. However, several of this year’s contenders, including Michigan (#201), Houston (#188), Kansas State (#317), and Duke (#237), struggle to knock down their free throws.

3.) Pencil in a blue blood for your Final Four. One of UNC, Kansas, Florida, Duke, or Kentucky has appeared in 29 of the last 30 Final Fours.

4.) Last year, two 9-seeds made the Sweet Sixteen. Don’t count on that happening again, especially with this year’s class of undeserving 9-seeds. Before last year, only 5 out of 132 teams seeded ninth advanced to the second weekend.

5.) 16 of the last 17 national champions ranked in the top-25 in adjusted offensive efficiency, with the only exception being #57 UCONN in 2014. Contenders who fall outside the top 25 this year include Kansas State, Florida State, Kansas, and Texas Tech.

6.) For those who believe in momentum, Wofford has won 20 straight, New Mexico State has won 19 in a row, and UC Irvine enters the tournament on a 16-game winning streak.

7.) In 29 of the last 30 years, the national champion ranked in the top 100 in points per game. Several of the top teams in the tournament don’t put up many points, including Michigan (#240), Villanova (#123), Texas Tech (#157), and Virginia (#193). They’ll need to step up their game if they want to win the title.

8.) A Big 10 team hasn’t won the national championship in 19 years. In that time, ACC schools have won 7 titles.

9.) Abilene Christian and Gardner-Webb are both making their NCAA Tournament debuts this season. There are now 42 Division I teams that have never gone dancing, and only 4 of them (Army, The Citadel, St. Francis, and William & Mary) have been eligible every single year.

10.) 28 of the last 30 champions outscored their opponents by 10 or more points per game. This year, Gonzaga had the highest margin of victory, winning by an average of more than 24 points per game. In contrast, teams like Purdue, Kansas, Florida State, and LSU only won their games by single-digits.

11.) Some pundits claim that teams that get upset early, like Virginia, Tennessee, UNC, and Michigan State last year, are due for a bounceback the following year. However, HSAC’s research has found that teams don’t play better the year after losing to Cinderella.

12.) Over the last 10 years, every first round matchup except one has averaged between 138 and 142 points. Defenses tend to dominate the 6-11 matchup, as teams combine to score only 129.8 points per game in these contests.

East Region

13.) Duke generates 55.7% of its offense from 2-point shots, the second-highest rate of any tournament team. However, they may be on upset alert should they reach the 2nd round, as both VCU and UCF have top-15 defenses inside the arc.

14.) Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Minneapolis has hosted the Final Four twice. Both of those times, Duke emerged as the national champion.

15.) Some commentators argue that the key to pulling off an upset is shooting a lot of three-pointers. One team that does this is North Dakota State, which generates 40% of its offense from beyond the arc. However, this trend may be overrated, as there doesn’t seem to be a strong relationship between shooting a lot of threes and being a Cinderella team.

16.) UCF gets to the free throw line at the highest rate of any team in the tournament, but the Knights are the 2nd-worst team in the field at actually making their free throws. In an 8-9 matchup many expect to be close, every point will count.

17.) While many experts argue that underdogs should play at a slower tempo in order to minimize the number of possessions and increase variance, past HSAC research has found this not to be the case. Surprisingly, successful underdogs played at a higher tempo than average. That’s bad news for 12th-seeded Liberty, which plays at the 4th-slowest pace in the country.

18.) Mississippi State had the SEC’s tallest frontcourt this season. Look for the Bulldogs to exploit this height advantage against Liberty, one of the shortest teams in the field.

19.) Virginia Tech is the only team in the field to give up a higher percentage of points on threes than twos. Luckily for them, their first round opponent, Saint Louis, only generates 25% of their points from long range, good for 320th in the country.

20.) In spite of being the worst team in the tournament at forcing turnovers, Maryland still boasts a top-25 defense. Nevertheless, the strategy of settling into a half-court defense and letting teams take shots may not be effective against Belmont, which has the third best effective field goal percentage in the nation.

21.) Belmont’s Dylan Windler is the only guard in the last 25 years to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.

22.) While LSU has a top-10 offense, their defense is only ranked 62nd. Over the last 5 tournaments, no team ranked outside the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency has reached the Final Four. In addition, the Tigers may be in trouble in the opening round, as Yale’s top-tier offense could pose problems for LSU. The Bulldogs knock down 49.8% of their shots, the 6th highest rate in the country.

23.) Yale’s men’s basketball team has been around for 124 years, tied for the longest of any Division I school. Over that time, the Bulldogs have played 2,960 games and won exactly half of them.

24.) Although Louisville is the 7-seed, KenPom rates them as the fourth-best team in the East Region, ahead of #3 LSU, #5 Mississippi State, and #6 Maryland.

25.) Minnesota generates only 22% of its offense from beyond the arc, the lowest rate of any team in the tournament. That may be a problem in the 2nd round, as potential opponent Michigan State has a top-5 defense against two-pointers.

26.) Michigan State has historically been an unselfish squad, ranking in the top 10 in assist percentage in each of the last 5 seasons. This year is no different, as the Spartans have recorded assists on 68.2% of their made field goals – the top rate in the country

West Region

27.) Gonzaga’s high-flying offense, which is ranked #1 by KenPom entering the tournament, features 3 players who average at least 15 points per game. However, they may run into a speed bump in the 2nd round. Gonzaga could face Syracuse, whose famed 2-3 zone stifled the Zags in both the 2010 and 2016 tournaments.

28.) The Northeast Conference is the only conference to have never won a Round of 64 game. This year, Fairleigh Dickinson will try to break the curse.

29.) Despite being the tallest team in the nation (for the 2nd straight year), Syracuse gives up a lot of second chances. Consequently, Baylor may not be a good matchup for the Orange, as the Bears are the best offensive-rebounding team in the field.

30.) Syracuse has won NCAA Tournament games at 9 different seed lines, but has never done so as an 8 seed. Syracuse has won NCAA Tournament games at 9 different seed lines, but has never done so as an 8 seed.

31.) The tournament’s top 2 scorers, Markus Howard and Ja Morant, will be featured in the MarquetteMurray State game.

32.) In addition, Marquette vs. Murray State will be a battle of strengths. The Golden Eagles are one of the best teams in the country at knocking down long-range shots, but the Racers possess a top-5 defense against three-pointers.

33.) Vermont was tied for first place in the country in preventing opponents from grabbing offensive rebounds. That will be useful against Florida State, which has one of the tallest frontcourts in the tournament.

34.) Three brothers from Evansville, Indiana (Ernie, Everett, and Robin Duncan) all play for Vermont. They are the first trio of brothers to all play on the same team, at the same time, since 1977.

35.) Expect a fast-paced game if St. John’s advances to play Buffalo. These teams get their shots up in a hurry and both average under 15.5 seconds per possession.

36.) In each of the last 8 tournaments, one (and only one) First Four team has advanced to the 2nd round. In 7 of the last 8 years, the winner of the Wednesday night game has been the lucky team. This year’s tournament pits St. John’s against Arizona State in the Wednesday night tilt.

37.) Texas Tech ranks 4th in the country in points allowed and has the top-rated defense according to KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings. However, their mediocre offense (157th in PPG) could do them in as the tournament progresses. They could meet their polar opposite in the 2nd round, as Buffalo ranks in the top 5 in points per game, but is only 161st in points allowed.  

38.) Nevada is the most experienced team in the tournament. The Wolf Pack bring back each of their top three scorers from last season’s Sweet Sixteen team.

39.) When Nevada faces Florida, it will be interesting to see which team dictates the flow of the game. The Wolf Pack get their shots up quickly and hardly turn the ball over, while the Gators play at a much slower tempo (#346 in the country) and are excellent at forcing turnovers.

40.) Michigan relies heavily on its starting 5, as they have played more than 80% of the team’s minutes this season. If someone gets in foul trouble, the Wolverines could be on upset alert. That is especially true against a well-rounded Montana team that boasts three players who average 15 or more points per game.

South Region

41.) Virginia plays at the slowest tempo in the country, averaging only 59.3 possessions per 40 minutes. However, after adjusting for this, they rank in the top 5 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

42.) If the game between Mississippi and Oklahoma goes down to the wire, stick with the Rebels. Mississippi is the best free throw shooting team in the tournament, while the Sooners shoot almost 10% worse from the line.

43.) On March 22, 2014, Wisconsin knocked Oregon out of the NCAA Tournament. Exactly 1 year later, the Badgers eliminated the Ducks again. This year, the teams will face off for the third time. The date? March 22.

44.) Wisconsin brings back 75.4% of its minutes from last year, the highest rate of any team from the Big 10. Ethan Happ and company may be able to exploit an Oregon team that ranks outside the top 300 in experience.

45.) Don’t expect many points in the Kansas StateUC Irvine game, as both teams rank in the top 20 in the country in fewest points allowed.

46.) Villanova is the only team in the tournament that took more than half of its shots from beyond the arc. Since the Wildcats rely so heavily on the three, St. Mary’s might not be a good opening round matchup for them. The Gaels force their opponents to take lots of two-pointers and have only allowed opponents to score 25% of their points from beyond the arc.

47.) No defending champion has made it past the Sweet Sixteen since Florida in 2007. Villanova could be in trouble against St. Mary’s, the best 11-seed in the tournament, especially since 11-seeds have a winning record (21-19) against 6-seeds over the last 10 seasons. As HSAC recently explored, there does not seem to be a significant difference between the efficiency ratings of 6- and 11-seeds.

48.) Old Dominion relies heavily on Ahmad Caver, who has played 94% of available minutes this season.

49.) Be careful picking Purdue to go deep into this tournament. Head coach Matt Painter has been to 11 different tournaments and never made it past the Sweet Sixteen.

50.) A team seeded seventh or lower has made the Final Four in 6 straight seasons. One Cinderella to keep an eye on may be 7th-seeded Cincinnati, which boasts one of the top defenses in the country. In addition, if the Bearcats make it past Iowa, they would most likely face Tennessee, the lowest-ranked 2-seed in the tournament, in the next round.

51.) The selection committee did a favor for Cincinnati, giving them the opportunity to reach the Final Four without traveling far (1st weekend – Columbus, 2nd weekend – Louisville). This is especially beneficial for the Bearcats, whose 49-3 home record over the last 3 years is the best of any major conference team.

52.) According to Sports-Reference’s Simple Rating System, this is only the 2nd year since 1949 (when Sports-Reference started tracking SRS) that Colgate has had an above-average team. In addition, this is the first time in 119 years that the Raiders have won 20 games in a season.

53.) Over the last 10 years, the 2-15 matchup is the highest scoring first round matchup. In these games, the teams have combined to score 141.35 points per game. One game that could highlight this trend is TennesseeColgate, which features 2 of the top 20 teams in the country in effective field goal percentage.

Midwest Region

54.) UNC coach Roy Williams has been to the NCAA Tournament 28 times in his career and has gone 28-0 in the first round. In addition, at 16-0, the Tar Heels are the only team since 2000 to have played at least 4 first round games without a loss.

55.) Mike Hopkins has brought the famous zone defense from Syracuse to Washington, and the Huskies have not disappointed. They force turnovers on almost 25% of opponents’ possessions, good for 4th in the nation.

56.) Of the teams who have played at least 25 NCAA Tournament games, Utah State has the worst all-time record, going 6-22 in the Big Dance.

57.) Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, Auburn has never lost in the opening round. In contrast, New Mexico State has been bounced in the first round in each of its last 10 March Madness appearances.

58.) The last time Kansas wasn’t a top-3 seed was 2006, when this season’s leading scorer Dedric Lawson was 8 years old. That year, they were a 4-seed and were eliminated in the first round.

59.) Kansas was a perfect 16-0 at home this season, but was only 9-9 away from Allen Fieldhouse. Luckily for the Jayhawks, their potential Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games would be in Kansas City, only 45 minutes from campus.

60.) Since the beginning of March, Kansas has ranked 63rd in adjusted efficiency. That’s more than 20 spots lower than the Jayhawks’ first round opponent, Northeastern.

61.) Northeastern hasn’t won in the NCAA Tournament since Jim Calhoun led them to a play-in game victory in 1984. However, this might be the year they end the drought, as the sharp-shooting Huskies are the only team in the field to rank in the top 20 in both 2-point and 3-point field goal percentage.

62.) Ohio State is a perfect 6-0 all-time against Iowa State, including March Madness wins in both 1985 and 2013.

63.) With their win over Kansas, the Iowa State Cyclones became the lowest-seeded team to ever win the Big 12 Tournament. Nevertheless, surprise conference tournament winners don’t always carry that momentum into March.

64.) In 2015, 14th-seeded Georgia State upset a 3-seed from Texas. As they try to replicate that Cinderella story, they are following a different formula this year. While the 2015 edition of the Panthers relied heavily on two-pointers, this year’s team is one of the best in the tournament at knocking down threes.

65.) However, that might not be the way to beat Houston, as the Cougars have the #2 three-point defense in the country.

66.) Despite having the Big East’s tallest frontcourt, Seton Hall saw nearly 12% of its two-pointers blocked, last in the conference.

67.) Wofford’s Fletcher Magee is one of only 2 players in NCAA history to make 500+ three-pointers. In addition, Storm Murphy is the only qualifying player in the tournament to knock down more than half of his three-point attempts. That could be beneficial against potential 2nd-round opponent Kentucky, which has one of the worst three-point defenses in the tournament.

68.) A year after trotting out the least-experienced team ever in KenPom’s dataset, Kentucky is again the youngest team in the field. The average Wildcat has been in college for only 0.58 years.

Thanks to kenpom.com, sports-reference.com/cbb, and ncaa.com for being such valuable resources for many of these statistics.

 

Notre Dame Is Much less One-Dimensional Than It Was Final Yr

Muffet McGraw has been worried all season about Notre Dame’s defense. When the Fighting Irish beat Bethune-Cookman in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, McGraw said in postgame interviews that her team had “a long way to go to be a good defensive team.” This was after Notre Dame conceded only 50 points and won the game by 42.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and McGraw’s team has now reached the Final Four for a ninth time. Next up is a bitter rival — and the most decorated team in the sport’s history — in the Connecticut Huskies. It’s safe to assume which aspect of Notre Dame’s game concerns McGraw the most ahead of this epic rematch of last year’s semifinal.

After all, Notre Dame is a juggernaut on offense. The Irish are first in the nation in points per game and third in offensive efficiency, according to HerHoopStats.com — trailing only Oregon and Mississippi State. Both stats are on par with what the team posted last season en route to the national title.

But despite McGraw’s concerns, Notre Dame has come a long way toward becoming a good defensive team. It’s just not on the same level as the impeccable execution Notre Dame displays on the offensive side of the ball. Last season, Notre Dame ranked 150th in defensive efficiency. For comparison with recent champions, South Carolina finished 18th in 2016-17, while UConn’s 2015-16 team finished first — in fact, the Huskies finished first in all four of Breanna Stewart’s title-winning seasons. (Not a coincidence.)

Typically, championship teams play far more effective defense than the Irish did last season. So far in 2018-19, though, they’ve bridged that gap significantly. Though they are allowing 64.2 points per game, 153rd in the country, that number fails to account for Notre Dame’s pace. In defensive efficiency, they are up to 52nd in the country.

Notre Dame’s defense has made big strides

How the Final Four teams have changed from a year ago in terms of their efficiency on offense and defense

Points Per 100 PossessionsOpp. Points Per 100 Possessions
Team2017-182018-19Diff.2017-182018-19Diff.
Notre Dame114.2117.5+3.391.886.1+5.7
Baylor117.4113.1-4.377.276.4+0.8
Oregon117.8121.9+4.191.192.5-1.4
UConn122.2116.8-5.473.779.6-5.9

Source: Her Hoop Stats

Notre Dame star Arike Ogunbowale is a big part of that, though she’s by no means alone. The whole team had to pitch in to guard Texas A&M star Chennedy Carter in the Sweet 16 on Saturday, and while Carter did manage to score 35 points, this number is deceiving: It took Carter 34 shots to do it. Ogunbowale scored 34 in the game but did so on just 25 shots.

“I think we got stops when it mattered,” Ogunbowale said after the Texas A&M game. “Fourth quarter we held [Carter], we got stops. And like I say, we got stops when it mattered. So that’s all that matters.”

This has been the case for much of the season. Notre Dame is allowing 0.73 points per possession this season overall, per Synergy Sports. But after timeouts, that number drops to 0.59, good for sixth in the country. So when McGraw and company have a chance to set up their defense, the Irish essentially become as effective as anyone, with that number besting everyone else still left in the NCAA field.

So how do they do it? A combination of forcing turnovers, closing out on perimeter shooters and an elevated dose of protecting the rim.

The Notre Dame steal percentage is up from last season, 12.0 percent this year from 11.1 percent a year ago. Much of that improvement comes from Ogunbowale herself, whose steal rate jumped from 2.3 to 3.2 percent. All five starters, however, have steal rates north of 2 percent, reflecting an ability to get into passing lanes, and those live-ball turnovers are immensely valuable for a Notre Dame team that scores at a rate of 1.12 points per possession in transition.

The biggest change, though, is the element of rim protection provided by Brianna Turner after the Notre Dame center missed last season with an injury. No Notre Dame starter last season topped Jessica Shepard’s 2.3 block percentage. But this year, Turner checks in at 9.2 percent, and as a team, Notre Dame is at 11.5 percent. That’s 38th in the country, up from 225th in Division I last year.

But while most attention goes to Turner’s blocks — a particular aesthetic favorite of McGraw when she watches her team — there are improvements by other players that have made a difference as well.

Take Shepard’s ability to end possessions by simply anchoring herself in the right spot off of misses by opponents. Her improved strength and agility this season has led to a significant jump in her defensive rebounding percentage, from 17.1 percent last year to 20.5 percent this season.

“Jessica is such a phenomenal player inside and out,” Turner said of her teammate when talking to reporters in Chicago on Sunday. “She’s the strongest player I’ve ever played against or with, so that just speaks for itself. Her ability to like chase down rebounds and just offensively, as well, just her strength is really one of her great assets.”

Then there’s Marina Mabrey, known primarily for shooting threes and taking over at point guard last season out of necessity. But the versatile Mabrey is also a standout on defense. Already strong last season at 0.676 points per possession allowed, per Synergy, she’s dropped that number all the way to 0.625 in 2018-19, 45th in the country among 713 eligible Division I players with a minimum of 200 possessions. This stems from her ability to defend spot-up shooters. Her allowed points per possessions on these plays is down to .587 from 0.855 a year ago. The result is a Notre Dame team that allowed opponents to shoot 34.5 percent from three last year, 302nd in the nation, but now is giving up just 28.6 percent to opponents beyond the arc this year, 33rd best in the country.

To be sure, there are still gaps in the Notre Dame defense. As McGraw noted last weekend, the team’s offense is what holds the key to its defense, an inside-out formulation compared with most teams.

“We do like to run,” McGraw said. “We’re a transition-type team. I think our offense feeds our defense, which is kind of the opposite of the way it’s supposed to go.”

It’s true: While the Irish are among the nation’s leaders in offensive efficiency both in the halfcourt and in transition, they have a far more effective defense in the halfcourt set (55th in the nation, per Synergy) than in transition (197th). Put simply, the best way for Notre Dame to defend is to make baskets and keep opponents from running.

And while Notre Dame has every chance to repeat, don’t think of this 2018-19 Irish team as a clone of last year’s champion.



Check out our latest March Madness predictions.

MLL Rebrand Begins With New Web site, New Emblem And Draft Reside Streaming

MLL New Logo Rebrand

Major League Lacrosse (MLL) continued their brand upgrade via a complete rebrand launched today. MLL conducted research and collected insightful feedback from constituents in order to study the data and formulate a business game-plan for now and the future of the professional outdoor lax league. The new Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) is coming this year and this fact pushed the MLL to step up their branding efforts in 2019. Management is delivering this time through a new web site, new brand logo and a new draft logo, plus the addition of a new player imager. Original content will be designed with an aim towards targeting their growing GenZ following. Distribution partnerships, social media channels and ongoing player support are key marketing opportunities for MLL fan engagement. Fans got to see the rebrand activated online and onsite at the 2019 Draft held in Charlotte, NC for the first time in league history. Step by digital step, the MLL are getting ready for a 2019 next-gen kind of season to remember.

New Major League Lacrosse Logo Car Wrap

MLL Branding

Is it a good problem to have to rebrand? For the MLL, after 19-years, the answer is an ecstatic yes for their nine franchises.

“We are thrilled to unveil the new MLL branding, as it symbolizes our renewed focus on supporting our players and providing a stellar game day experience for players and fans alike,” said Alexander Brown, MLL Commissioner. “The new MLL branding was thoughtfully crafted and reflects the exciting present and expanding future of our league and the sport of lacrosse.”

Improved gameday is only part of the new way of thinking.

Sports Tech Upgrades

Delivery of live and archived games to fans so they can watch on any device, wherever they are and at any time, is a Standard for all professional sports leagues. MLL entered this realm with their first livestream that took place at the 2019 Draft. Click the link below to watch the archived draft.

https://www.laxsportsnetwork.com/videos/2019-mll-draft-rounds-1-3

Look for teams and the league to stream live games directly from their respective websites.

Yes,
the MLL televised games in the past even going so far as to offer pay-per-view
but was unsuccessful. Will a streaming focus work for the MLL? The answer to
that is complicated and has to do with how many eyeballs watch, whether the new
talent is enough to sustain the league in the eyes of fans and sponsors until
new superstars are found, and can two pro leagues survive in a niche sport at
the same time.

Social media is a top priority for the MLL, their handles are much more engaged than just a few years ago but the PLL is dominating social media chatter so what is next for the MLL?

First, the league’s Instagram account was reset last week as you can see from their limited uploads currently sitting at 15 images and videos making it look like a new account preloaded with 142,000 followers.

The social purge continued with all existing branding on their MLL Twitter and Facebook accounts removed.

Finally,
followers were prepped about a change coming through a ten second clip of
Boston Cannons’ attackman Mark Cockerton running on all social media handles.

The next
evening MLL unveiled the new branding using social and digital channels. The
new branding featured a twenty second video with Bayhawks star Colin Heacock
announcing “We’re ready, are you?”

Website: majorleaguelacrosse.com
Instagram: instagram.com/majorleaguelax
Twitter: twitter.com/MLL_Lacrosse

SportsBiz

MLL
did their due diligence over the course of the 2018 season. Together with Nielsen
Sports, they conducted a comprehensive fan research study. The
results fueled the creative rebranding process, led by Troika/Mission Group
(TMG), a global brand experience and integrated communications agency.

Troika,
TMG’s L.A. office, and MLL listened to the player’s thoughts and gathered stakeholder
feedback. Troika and MLL decided to pitch the rich history of the league, the
geographic growth of the sport, the rapidly growing reach of MLL, attributes
that are central to the sport of lacrosse, and the bright future of the sport
and the league.

“As we pride ourselves on carefully crafting identities for
blue-chip brands, we were honored to be chosen as the agency to work with MLL
on its rebranding efforts,”
said Dan Pappalardo,
President of Troika
. “Although MLL
operates in a niche sports market, the league’s vision and its new branding
help position MLL as a leader in the national sports market landscape.”

A
strong digital focus is essential to MLL’s rebrand. The League plans to activate
their digital communication channels in order to present and celebrate top
players and amazing stories. In the upcoming months, MLL will present their
players to the public in a manner reflective of the unparalleled talent and passion
they put forth both on and off the field.

MLL’s new comprehensive digital and social strategy includes working with select top players from across the league to produce unique digital creative distributed both by the league and by the players.

2019 MLL Draft presented by Cascade

MLL hosted the 2019 Collegiate Draft presented by Cascade Saturday, March 9 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. The Draft was free of charge to attend and featured representatives from every MLL team. Major League Lacrosse streamed the event for the first time in league history, from their website. More than 550 fans, players, league executives, and sponsors attended. The Ohio Machine picked Alex Woodall, Towson University’s faceoff specialist, with the first overall pick.

Bringing the MLL Draft down south for the first time to the HOF was smart business development. That city is pure sports crazy and lacrosse is no exception.

More MLL onsite activation included a wrapped race car showcasing the new branding.

New Website

The
MLL also released a new website for the first time in more than a decade to
coincide with the rebrand. The clean, fresh and fast new website, created with
MLL partner, Sidearm Sports, is set to feature a new custom state-of-the-art
statistics platform, player features, an intuitive user-friendly design and
live streaming capabilities.

Logo

The new logo is said to be fast,
aggressive, innovative, and player focused.

The
new brand logo look and feel represents the youthful, intense, and bold nature
embodied in the game of lacrosse. The red, white and blue color scheme pops especially
with the hint of a silver gradient surrounding the shield. The shield is centered
around the player, a core MLL theme.

About Major League Lacrosse

MLL has led the sport of lacrosse into the mainstream of
competitive team sports since 2001. In the spring of 2018, MLL entered into new
leadership for the first time in 17 years when it selected Alexander Brown as
the Commissioner.

The league is made up of nine teams: The Atlanta Blaze,
Boston Cannons, Charlotte Hounds, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Dallas Rattlers, Denver
Outlaws, Florida Launch, New York Lizards, and Ohio Machine.

The 2019 season opens May 31. Visit MLL website for tickets.

New MLL Website

Sports Techie, MLL is based in Boston, MA. I heard a stat about growing up in Boston as a kid and being a local sports fan. It means their young fans get to add a new Championship under their belt every two years whether it’s the Patriots, Red Sox or perhaps the Celtics this season. Some cities wait decades, hello Seattle Mariners, New York Knicks and Arizona Cardinals. Therefore, league management is surrounded by a sport dynasty in the Pats and winners in most the other teams located in this American treasure of a sports city. All that winning can’t hurt the MLL!

The MLL are looking for innovative ways to help ensure their continued success in the face of lacrosse competition after losing many of their star players to the new league and having to in effect, regroup. The player’s in today’s MLL seem to be all in with the new rebrand.

“I am excited about the direction we are going,” said Zach Currier, standout midfielder for the
Denver Outlaws
. “The rebrand is more
than the innovative logo. It brings the game, the players and the passion for
our sport to the fans in a way no one else can.”

The MLL’s goal of creating content designed to engage MLL’s core GenZ audience with a focus on human characteristics authentic to each featured players’ style of play and personalities seems wise. Attracting millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers to the new MLL is the bottom line.

Does the United States, Canada and rest of the world have enough lacrosse enthusiasts for both the PLL and MLL to succeed?

Bet, yes.

Two leagues are better than none.

See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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Social Soccer: The High 20

Here’s a fascinating soccer league table that might surprise you. The biggest clubs in the world are revealed and ranked in this infographic that reveals how many social media followers each has right now.  And it’s yet another El Clásico at the top with Barcelona and Real Madrid neck-and-neck.  Six teams from the Premier League (EPL) unsurprisingly feature in the top 20 and it’s Manchester United who is the biggest of these by some stretch.  The marketing of top soccer clubs is so important to their income and sustainability and, in particular, the sales of merchandise to a global fan base. The Sports Techie community blog loves football social media!

Check this social league table periodically and you will see that this is a new style “live” infographic that actually updates hourly,  thus keeping these follower numbers continually up to date.  The big three social media platforms of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are being checked for updates by footballpredictions.net, the creators of the infographic, in the background in order to make this live table possible.

(Source: Footballpredictions.net)

Sports Techie, soccer and social media go together like people and their smartphones.

Other data driven numbers that caught THE Sports Techie digital eye:

Barca and Real are so close in follows as noted above it’s truly amazing for both Spain and La Liga.

ManU certainly crushes it with social media followers over fellow EPL teams.

Interesting that Juvenus at 6 is ranked just below FC Bayern Munich at 5 because of the German powerhouses presence on Facebook numbering 13 million more than Juve even though the Italian powerhouse has more Twitter and Instagram followers.

PGG signed Neymar away from Barca yet they seem stuck at 8 ever wishing for a top 5 standing, something that could happen it they maximize Instagram while staying steady with Facebook.

Now I’m a pretty serious soccer fan all-in-all but when I got to team 12 (at that hour) it was Galatasaray, or Galatasaray Spor Kulübü as they are known throughout Turkey with their HQ located inside the European portion of Istanbul. In the Fenerbahçe neighbourhood of Istanbul, Fenerbahçe S.K., also know as simply Fenerbahçe, came in ranked 17. Who knew Istanbul was so social media savvy with soccer!

Finally, fascinating that in a country as large as Brazil, with the amount of Portuguese speaking futbol loving fans as they sport, their highest ranked squad is Flemengo at 15. Overall, when you add in Corinthians at 16 and Boca Jrs at 20, it becomes more telling in terms of social media reach and popularity. Might one of these three organizations sky rocket to the top ten as more and more Brazilians get connected online into the 21st century?

Thanks for the revealing sports tech,
footballpredictions.net.

See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Skyhook Basis Advantages By way of Goldin Auctions Winter Public sale

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was my favorite player before Magic Johnson, now it’s LeBron James and Keven Durant. Who is next to carry on the legacy? It might indeed be one of the Skyhook Foundation kids that will benefit in the near future from Kareem’s decision to sell his memorabilia consisting of four NBA Championship rings, All-Star rings, MVP trophies and more, for their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program. Kids of Kareem’s community benefit from the cause by the auction’s ability to leverage his great legacy within the game to help fund Abdul-Jabbar’s Foundation. Jabbar’s 247-lot netted nearly $3 million of the $6 million in sales at the record setting GOLDIN AUCTIONS 2019 WINTER AUCTION. Mike Trout is the newest baseball legacy in real-time as his card went for $186,580 setting a new standard. Ty Cobb, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle memorabilia, plus a KD card, were also included in the 2,000-lots of memorabilia. Glad to see the coming together of Goldin Auctions, Kareem and Skyhook Foundation to help fulfill the mission to “give kids a shot that can’t be blocked,” and keep it going.

#1: 1989 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Game Used, Signed & Inscribed Spalding Basketball Used For Last Points In Career-38,387 NBA Record (Abdul-Jabbar LOA)

Kareem

The Sports Techie community blog followers and readers are diverse in age and some may not remember or know about the 71-year-old, 7 foot 2 inch, Abdul-Jabbar, as in my 5-year old son. Previously known as Lew Alcindor, he is one of pro and college basketball’s all-time best ever. Probably high school too. He played center at UCLA for legendary coach John Wooden.

My brothers, friends and I would play nerf basketball at home or dunk hoops at the local school while pretending to be Kareem when he played for the Bruins, Milwaukee Bucks and then Los Angles Lakers, trying to imitate his unblockable sky hook shot.

Showtime was something to behold in Southern California and Kareem was a big part of the success the L.A. Lakers enjoyed after the arrival of Magic from Michigan State University in the 80s’. I loved Kareem’s NBA Finals battles with Boston Celtics center, Robert Parrish, aka “The Chief.” He played against the my favorite team, the stolen Seattle SuperSonics, many times through his career and the Sonics usually lost but not always.

I truly understand why collectors with extra disposable income would jump at the chance via auction to purchase Kareem memorabilia that defines his amazing basketball career and personal interests while at the same time benefiting Skyhook Foundation. Kareem said, “When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple. Sell it all.”

Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook

Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook takes kids before 6th grade up to Angeles National Forest, where they conduct hands on STEM experimentation’s. The foundation also provides resources for children, many living in poverty, to help them get an idea where good jobs of the 21st century are going to be. Kareem spoke about helping boys and girls use their educational opportunities in the best way. They currently have a six-year waiting list.

The time is now to make more of an impact via the Foundation. Goldin Auctions and all the bidders helped pave the way for Kareem’s wishes to come true with regards to his treasured, hard earned and respected memorabilia. Call it a win-win-win-win.

Kareem added, “Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future.”

UCLA Legacy Series – Kareem & Camp Skyhook

GOLDIN
AUCTIONS 2019 WINTER AUCTION

The Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Collection included four NBA championship rings netting $1.2 million, three NBA MVP Awards earning $366,000 and eight NBA All-Star jerseys bought at $400,000, totaling $2.9 million including buyer’s premium. Kareem’s personal items were attributed to a smudge below half of the entire $6 million auction take.

The complete collection
can be viewed at https://goldinauctions.com/Category/Kareem_Abdul_Jabbar_Collection-219.html

Here’s a look at the final sale prices for some of the marquee items.

Lot #63 – 1987 Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar Lakers NBA Championship Ring –

(Final
Price: $398,937) — *Record for any NBA Championship Ring and any
Lakers item  

Lot #2 – 1985 Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar Lakers NBA Championship Ring (Finals MVP) – 
(Final Price: $343,700)

Lot #1 – 1989 Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar Game-Used, Signed & Inscribed Spalding Basketball from his
Final Career Points (38,387
) –
(Final Price: $270,050)

Lot #64 – 1988
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Lakers NBA Championship Ring 
(Final Price:
$245,500)

Lot #43 – 1980
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Lakers NBA Championship Ring 
(Final Price:
$245,500)

Lot #33 – Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar’s 1971-72 NBA Most Valuable Player Podoloff Trophy
 presented to Lew
Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks -the second of his six NBA MVP Awards (Final
Price: $123,977)

Lot #3 – Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar’s 1975-76 NBA Most Valuable Player Podoloff Trophy
 – Awarded after his
first season with the Lakers in which he led the team with 27.7 ppg, 16.9 rpg.
and 4.1 blks. (Final Price: $122,750)

Lot #37 – Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar’s 1973-74 NBA Most Valuable Player Podoloff Trophy
 presented to Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar of the Milwaukee Bucks – the third of his six career NBA MVP
Awards (Final Price: $122,750)

Lot #238 – 2009 Bowman
Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP89 Mike Trout (Orange Refractor) Signed Rookie Card
(#14/25) BGS Gem Mint 9.5/BGS 10
 – Among the 25 copies recorded in BGS’s census reporting,
just one example has achieved a higher tier. (Final Price: $186,580) – *Record
for any Mike Trout Item

Lot #190 – 1909-11
T206 White Border Ty Cobb with “Ty Cobb” Back (PSA PR 1)
 – The Matchbox Find
Example. One of fewer than 20 examples validated by PSA. (Final Price:
$148,527)

Lot #182 – 1968 Willie
Mays Games-Used & Signed S.F. Giant Home Jersey (MEARS A9.5 & Beckett)
 (Final Price:
$88,380)

Lot #175 – 1923-25
Babe Ruth Game-Used Hillerich & Bradsby Pre Model Bat (PSA/DNA GU 8)
 (Final Price:
$88,380)

Lot #208 – 1952 Topps
#311 Mickey Mantle Rookie Card (SGC 82 EX/MT+ 6.5)
(Final Price: $76,105)

Lot #205 – 1951 Bowman
#305 Willie Mays Rookie Card PSA NM-MT 8 –

(Final
Price: $44,190)  

Lot #514 – 2007-08
Exquisite Collection #94 Kevin Durant Signed Jersey Rookie Card (#12/35) PSA
Authentic/Auto 10
 –
(Final Price: $34,370)  

Lot #351 – 1907-09 H.M. Taylor Detroit Tigers Postcard “Ty Cobb at Bat” PSA VG3 (Final Price: $13,502)

Mike Trout

Collectors were in awe of the possible collector’s steal of the night in Trout’s $186,580 fetching price for a 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP89 Mike Trout (Orange Refractor) card, setting a new threshold as most expensive Trout item ever auctioned off.

Goldin Auctions took part
in two other historic record-setting for modern cards including a 1979-80 Wayne
Gretzky rookie card going for an astonishing $465,000 and the 2003-04 LeBron
James Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Logoman Rookie Card sold at $312,000.

About
Goldin Auctions

Sports memorabilia impresario Ken Goldin has sold more than $700 million in memorabilia from many of the biggest names in sports, history and pop culture and was the pioneer of using the medium of television to sell sports memorabilia. Over the past few years, Goldin Auctions sold a Honus Wagner T206 card for a public sale record $3.12 million, Babe Ruth’s 1918 contract for a record $1.02 million, the Mike Piazza Post-9/11 home run jersey for $365,000, and the 1979-80 Wayne Gretzky PSA 10 rookie card for a record $465,000. Goldin Auctions strives to break new ground and offer collectors the best in collectible treasures up for auction in the marketplace. Goldin Auctions is the official auction partner of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum.

Goldin Auctions is currently accepting consignments for all 2019 auctions. To consign an item, visit GoldinAuctions.com or call 856- 767-8550 or email info@goldinauctions.com.

Sports Techie, my personal views align with Kareem’s in a lot of ways, especially regarding our love of basketball, STEM and helping next-gen kids.

I am glad he was able to experience this one-of-a-kind opportunity because there is only one Kareem and only one Goldin Auctions. I liked how similar to an eBay bid, bids came in at the last moments and Kareem himself was using social media to hype up the live bidding process via his Twitter handle, even giving a shoutout to Magic!

My auction is stirring up a lot of memories for me. ⁦@MagicJohnson⁩ was a special part of my NBA life for so long & we created a magical legacy together. This is a special item to me. 1 hour left to bid!!!
⁦⁦@NBA⁩ ⁦@celticshttps://t.co/cSAfGqEgqs pic.twitter.com/lSSCndX9xm— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) March 3, 2019

Ken Goldin has a track record of success. You can see why after GOLDIN AUCTIONS 2019 WINTER AUCTION.

The online auction era is fast evolving. To witness the surge in monetary value of a Trout rookie card is mind boggling and exciting at the same time.

The best story of all, is Kareem’s wish to share his many basketball accolades, hardware and jewelry along with other historical items he collected along the way, like lot 87, to benefit his Foundation.

#87: Abraham Lincoln “Portrait of an Achiever” Artwork on 37×16 Framed Canvas(Steve Kaufman Art) (Abdul-Jabbar LOA)

President Lincoln’s portrait sold for $4,603 after 22 bids.

Way to go Kareem, Skyhook Foundation is on the right path. Coach Wooden would be mighty proud of you, as am I and your many fans around the world.

Bravo!

See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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