During February 10th’s Michigan State-Michigan game, ESPN’s color-commentator Steve Lavin made a fairly large generalization about college basketball teams:
“This is the time of year when teams start to hit a wall. In January, you’ve got a hop in your step, everyone is 0-0 coming out of non-conference play. In March, you’ve got tournaments. But February is when teams slow down, particularly younger teams.”
Initially, I yielded two questions from Lavin’s comment. The first: do teams, in fact, lose more games in February than in other months? Second: If so, is the effect greater in younger teams than their older counterparts?
After explaining the context, I discussed these questions with one of my closest and brightest friends. This was a good decision, because it took him about half a second to point out the inanity of the first question; namely, that all teams can’t hit a wall at the same time, because the number of losers always equals the number of winners. It’s reasonable to believe that Lavin didn’t mean literally all teams suffer in February, but some specificity would have helped.
The first question still stands, however, if you realize what Lavin actually meant. He meant “this is the time of year when good teams hit a wall,” because really, how many basketball games with bad teams does Lavin watch? None, just like the rest of us (unless you’re a Vanderbilt fan). This intent releases him from the aforementioned logical problem, and allows for the possibility that bad teams benefit from the wall-hitting of the good ones.
So, me being me, I decided to research the questions associated with Lavin’s statement. Read the rest of this entry »