The Flaw in the Models, or How’d Brazil get beat down that badly?

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Let’s get this out of the way. Based on Nate Silver’s models, Brazil had a 1 in 4000 chance of losing by six goals. By that same model, Brazil had a 65% chance of victory, even without Neymar and Thiago Silva [1]. And there is no statistical model I would trust more than something Nate Silver created (John Hollinger being a not-too-close second).

Even if you take the reasoning that statistical models don’t really care about the difference at the extremes, that 1-in-4000 is not that distinguishable from 1-in-400, this beatdown was still an all time outlier, as in this was one of the most unexpected scorelines in history.

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USA vs. Belgium, Orkut Finally Dropped, NBA Free Agency, and More

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There were/are some big developments over the weekend and taking place currently in the sports and business worlds, so I wanted to focus this post on a discussion of various links and items. You know, just over two weeks ago, I was wondering how I was going to stay productive at work with the World Cup on. Suffice it to say, as I rehab from surgery (more on that at a later date), my questions were answered. I now have time to watch all the soccer games I want. Which brings me to the first item…

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Stop Diawing Around – The NBA Finals Preview You Didn’t Know You Needed

 

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Basketball fans, this one is for you. It’s Thursday morning, but more importantly it’s NBA Finals time, and we’ve gotten the rematch we deserve. It’s the new year, same as the old year. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. The NBA’s great villains and the NBA’s great heroes. Sometimes we need to stop overthinking things every year and saying things like “Oh but the Clippers could be a trendy finals pick,” or “Hmm…wonder if it may just be the Pacers’ year.” This was always how it was going to be, what it was meant to be. Sometimes, it is really as simple as the two best teams will make the finals. And the Spurs and Heat were definitively the two best teams this year.

Included:

Finals Previews Links Roundup | Links Analysis | Fun with Numbers | Ode to Manu | Personal Preview

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Time is linear. What happens last sticks out most.

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Five

“We lost because of that call.” In the thick of the 2014 NBA playoffs’ second round series between the LA Clippers and the OKC Thunder, everyone from Clippers fans to the head coach, Doc Rivers, himself repeated that sentence.

Even the casual sports observer can resonate with that concept. How many times has a controversial penalty or non-call within the last few minutes of a game left choruses of infuriated fans in disgust because they felt that the decision single-handedly swung the game? It doesn’t matter how the team was playing the rest of the match; all that matters is that they had a chance but the swindling referees cost them the assured victory. It was a coin flip coming down to the wire, but then the coin surely got rigged somewhere along the way.

Let’s step back and realize that coin flips are inherently 50-50. Got that? Good, then you understand that for coin flips that go one way, just as many coin flips can go the opposite direction. The impact of one controversial decision late in a game could easily be avoided by the negatively affected team not having missed a point-blank layup earlier (basketball), or if the team had just converted that one 3rd down pass in the second quarter (football). So what’s the problem?

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