March Madness


Sports Teams In Toronto

The one down side to summer is that there isn’t a lot of variety available in terms sporting events to go watch in person. The Raptors and the Leafs have finished up, leaving the Blue Jays who were the only team I saw in person when I first lived here, the Toronto FC and I suppose you have the Canadian Football League but I’m not really interested in seeing much of that in person although I am interested in trying to get tickets for the Bills in Toronto game this year against the Bears.

That being said about the Jays, I haven’t been to Rogers Centre since it was renovated, revamped and renamed – that place will always be SkyDome to me. I am thinking of going there towards the end of September when the Yankees roll into town for a 3-game set. Who knows, maybe the Jays continue this good stretch and cut the 10.5 game deficit into something manageable heading into the last few series. Especially with the stadium within walking distance from my work, it is no excuse not to make a couple of games down the stretch of the season.

Most importantly, I can’t wait for hockey season to start up again. I was in elementary and middle school when I lived here for 5 years so I would always every game and eagerly await Hockey Night in Canada but never really got a chance to see them play in person. Hopefully this is the year they will finally stop the drought and make the playoffs. I wonder how much a couple of decent seats will cost me since every single home is sold out irrespective of the fact that they haven’t won a title since 1967 but then again people still go out to see the Cubs too.

Even though Bosh has gotten up and left in hopes for a ring, I’m still hopeful that the Raptors can at least compete for a playoff spot in the East. A few years back when the Raptors played the Nets in the playoffs, I remember going to the games in Jersey where the fans in attendance were split 50-50. There was such a lack of interest by the local fans there coupled with the fact that the Raptors growing fan base was willing to make a trip since it was easier to get Raptors tickets in NJ than back home. They should have another decent shot to finish second in the division but whether that will be good enough to make the playoffs, we’ll see.

Back in 1994 when I was still in Pakistan, we all used to get up in the middle of the night to watch the FIFA World Cup games. Even though there was a slight translation difficulty when we moved with a tiny kid like me asking people if they wanted to play ‘football’ and getting weird looks in return, the passion for the sport did not fade. With my elementary school being within walking distance, I would come home during lunch breaks just to catch parts of the game and update the rest of the class upon my return. I will admit that I don’t think I have seen more than a handful of the Toronto FC games but with all these arenas and fields located centrally around my work place, it makes it very convenient on days I want to do stuff right after a tiring work day.

I’m still not sure how actively they show collegiate sports here north of the border, but I will have to keep track of RU football and eventually college basketball once that rolls around. Unfortunately, I can probably already assume that March Madness will not be the same here as it is there and that’s an unfortunate sacrifice I will have to make.


Bracket Update: Round 1

Through day 2 of this March Madness, I still have a couple of brackets which are doing pretty well. I have different brackets on ESPN, Yahoo! Sports and Facebook. I’ll break each one down but the best of the 3 is a tie with ESPN and Yahoo! Sports both having 26/32 correct picks and then Facebook only one game behind at 25/32 but that might be the one in the best shape.

A couple of things to note before my review:

  • With round one now complete … the ESPN.com Tournament Challenge looks like this:
  • Approximately 4.8 million completed brackets were submitted.
  • There are no brackets that are completely correct.
  • There are 3 brackets that have missed only one game.
  • There are 95 brackets that have missed two games.
  • There are 1,111 brackets that have missed three games.
  • Most brackets, on average, have missed 10 games.

    Click ‘Read more‘ to read the rest of review of my brackets. (more…)


March Madness Historical Data

Before you go out and blindly fill out your bracket, here are some historical information on the seeds and how well they have performed.

First of all, I can’t stand people who fill out brackets and you have all four #1 seeds in your Final Four. People got lucky when all four of them did make it to the Final 4 two years ago as that had never happened in history before. As a matter of fact, 3 #1 seeds have made it to the Final 4 only three other times since 1979 (1993, 1997 and 1999).

Be careful on making bold predictions for teams making a long run though. Everyone knows a 16-seed has yet to win a game in the tournament but be on the lookout for Lehigh and Vermont teams giving Kansas and Syracuse some trouble before bowing out. I am hopeful that the 1/16 upset happens this year (sans the Duke game) but you never know. Did you know no 14 or 15 seed has won a game in the tournament in the past 3 years, and they have won a combined 3 games in the past decade? You should be comfortable in advancing all the top three seeds without much hesitation.

Teams seeded 13th or lower in the NCAA tournament have been first-round “giant killers” 41 times since the field was expanded to 64 teams. Of those surprises, 30 have been decided by fewer than 6 points or in overtime. So if you feel confident about Siena or Murray State, go for it and take that chance.

The dreaded 5/12 upset seems to happen every year. Only twice in the past 20 years (2000 and 2007) has there not been a 12-seed advancing at least into the second round but the furthest a 12-seed has made it is the Elite 8. The only double digit seeds to make it to the Final 4 are LSU (’86) and George Mason (’06) who were both 11-seeds.

The 8/9 games are statistically a toss-up. Since 1985, the 8-seed has won 46 times but has lost 54 times but over the course of the tournament, the 8-seed is 66-99 while the 9th seed are 58-100.

When determining teams for your Final 4, you’re safe to have team that are seeded 5th or higher. In the past decade, only 3 teams seeded 6th or lower have made the Final 4 and it has only happened in 2 years (2000, 2006).

No seed ranked 9th or lower has ever won the Championship. No 5th or 7th seed has ever won a Championship but they have made it to the Title Game 3 times (1984, 2000 and 2002). Unlikely champions are a 4th seed (once – 1997), 6th seed (twice – 1983, 1988) and 8th seed (once – 1985).

Let me know who you have in your Final 4 and your eventual champions. What kind of upsets are you expecting? Do you believe that Purdue will really be that bad and lose to Siena? Which #1-seed goes down first?

My answers: expecting two 5/12 upsets a couple of 10 and 11 seeds winning. Think Purdue will keep the game close but Siena will win it in the end. First #1 seed to go down will be Kentucky because of their youth and inexperience.


Weekend Recap and More 1

Didn’t post anything over the past two days because basically my day has been encompassed of sleeping, eating, LOTS OF STUDYING, some Smash and March Madness. All of this probably started Thursday night, (notice the last post is from Friday at about 4:20 AM). I looked over the Section 0 and 1 that night and played some Super Smash Bros. Brawl – a game that was probably not a fan of at first, because I was never really into character games like that but I think it is safe to say I might have rushed to judgment on that one. Whoops. As for the studying for this big exam goes, I breezed through Section 0 and 1 that night because it mostly reviewed Algebra and Pre-Calculus stuff as well as basic probability concepts. That wasn’t so bad and it only covered about the first 50 pages of this exam review book (out of 400+ pages). Then Friday I started a little bit of Section 2 – Conditional Probability and Independence. Yea that was a review of the Prob/Stats class I have already taken but that was about a year ago and since I haven’t used much of these concepts since then, there is a tendency to forget. I was real good yesterday with a solid 5 hour lockdown mode and completely finish Secion 2 with its 20+ problem sets that I did twice just to make sure I had everything down pat. Section I got through most of it last night and today and now I think this pretty much covered everything I knew, maybe another section on random variables I think. Then the new stuff starts.

Okay, enough math stuff for this post. I’ll try to limit those to one paragraph a post. I’ve been playing quite a lot of smash in the time where I have had nothing else to do but don’t confuse that with me being any good. You can probably apply that to March Madness brackets as well where it’s always good to get humbled by your sister and a fellow math major who didn’t even know what ESPN stood for – Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (for those who didn’t know). My two picks for today both went down the drain – Texas just stunk it up against Memphis who I have said all year isn’t a very good team (maybe they’re a little good now). Davidson who after everything was in the game even though Curry shot like 5/24 or something but those last 14 seconds… no excuses. They took too much time to bring the ball up the court. No excuses.

Here’s some good news for me I guess, I went 7/8 in my women’s bracket. Only incorrect pick was having #3 Duke in the Elite 8 over #2 Texas A&M. Looking forward to the UConn/Rutgers game on Tuesday – I really think the winner of that game will represent the left side of the bracket in the Championship game. On the other side I don’t think Pat Summit gets stopped this year either and will win her game vs. A&M and then beat UNC. I’m hoping for a Rutgers/Tennessee game – one can only hope.

Probably gonna go watch Valley of Elah now – a movie Joe recommended to me. I’ll see how it is, if I like it, might post about it tomorrow if I have time. Opening Day tomorrow for Blue Jays and Yankees. I might post a story tomorrow or something soon about my facination with the Yankees. Obviously there’s gotta be a reason everyone thinks I’m a closet New York Yankees fan.


(A)ctuary, (B)aseball, (C)ollege Basketball

Well I haven’t really posted much about what is going on recently so I’ll try to hit as many of those as I can in this post. Gonna cover my ABC talk here… a little regarding my actuary test that I really need to start studying hardcore for, probably gonna talk a little baseball (who wins what division and makes the playoffs) and a tournament called March Madness.

I finally registered for my first Actuary exam. It’s called Exam 1/P – Probability. You can guess what topic is covered on there, but it’s a 3 hour test of rigorous stuff which I am not looking forward to at all. I’ll probably cut back on this blogging a little bit just a little bit because I really need to start studying for that. I am on Chapter 2 of the book which is really well written and I think there are like 10 in total and the exam is the 2nd week of May. Not a lot of time left and I know I will look for every opportunity to try not study, so if you see or talk to me where I am wasting time, tell me to go and study for my test. It’s really cool stuff though (yes I’m a math major) but the concepts and what not and calculating the probability of this event or that event happening given that you already know this or that about the situation. What else could you want?

Anyways, enough math talk and back to sports. I’ve woken up the past few days and really tried to get back to watching ESPN in the morning with my “breakfast” whether that be at 8am or 1pm and you can really tell baseball stuff starting to creep their way into the news. Before the season officially starts over here in the US, I’ll put up a little prediction for each division and why.

AL: Boston (East), Detroit (Central), Los Angeles (West) and Toronto (Wild Card)
NL: New York (East), Chicago (Central), Los Angeles (West) and Philadelphia (Wild Card)

I know I’m gonna hear a lot from my Yankee friends about how could I leave them out of the playoffs but here is why. Andy Pettitte is experiencing problems already before the season starts, you already can’t count on Moose after the season he had last year plus you throw in two rookies in the rotation and you are asking for trouble if you expect them to carry a team to the post season. Mariano isn’t getting any younger and what’s Joba gonna do if the pitchers that pitch before and after him can’t get the job done?

As for Boston and Detroit, they both just have ridiculous offenses that will carry the team. Boston I like their pitching more with Beckett having a solid minor league outing two days ago and Papelbon ready to slam the door shut in the bullpen. Detroit concerns me with their pitching injuries but I think they can overcome that in the early going with their monstrous lineup that they will field everyday with Magglio, Cabrera, Sheff, and company. For the West it was a toss up between Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or Seattle and I went with Angels simply they have been there more often recently and even with the loss of Escobar and Lackey being injured in the early going, I think the West has fallen significantly talent wise and it will be a disappointing season for that division. Wild Card where most people certainly could through the Yankees in there but I think the East can produce three 85-90+ win teams and I think if Burnett can stay healthy, and the addition of Eckstein and Rolen on the left side of the infield from a team that won the World Series not too long ago should help Wells rebound and let’s not forget Rios who is about to sign a long term extension to stay with the team.

As for the NL, I don’t understand how teams don’t automatically have the Mets representing the NL in the World Series… some are even doubting if they will win the division. Here is a team that if they didn’t have the biggest collapse of all time would have easily won the division with 3 weeks to a month to go in the a season and now they go on and add without a doubt one of the most dominant pitchers in the league right now. How does that not improve the team? How does that not make them the front runner by a long margin in the NL? I just don’t get it. In the Central, could the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs winning the World Series mean something to the city and its fans? Can they stay healthy long enough to do something down the stretch of the season and make the playoffs? I think Kerry Wood will be a solid closer for them now that he is hitting 90+ on his pitches again in spring training, this team has a potential to run away in the Central. For the West, you could randomly choose any team (minus the Giants) and they have just as good of a chance to winning the division as any of the other 3 teams. The reason I chose the Dodgers are because they finally added a power hitter in Andruw Jones as their CF and let’s not forget who is managing this ball club now. Joe Torre knows how to win and you know he wants to stick it to the Yankees by having a very productive season on the West Coast. I probably would have taken Phillies to win the division had the Mets not made their move and I certainly don’t see too many teams giving them a problem although they could face an in-division foe in the Braves for that wild card. I don’t really see it but people have said to keep an eye out on them.

Finally, some March Madness. Yesterday wasn’t a good day for me… both Tennessee and West Virginia lost for me and today started off real well with impressive wins by Davidson and Texas but what a let down Michigan State was against Memphis. They really just blew them out of the water in that first half up 50-20. Intriguing matchups here in teh Elite 8 with all 4 #1 seeds still alive. Make a note that never in the history of the tournament have all 4 #1 seeds made it to the Final Four… and I don’t think it will happen this year either. I’m counting on either Texas to really use that home court and explosive offense to slow down Memphis just enough to pull out a victory where a #2 beating a #1 isn’t that much of an upset. My Upset special however comes at the hands of the Wildcats from Davidson. Kansas needs to be put on notice. Curry can light it up and he did against Wisconsin in the first half and that just led to more trouble in the second half. What I liked for Davidson was that other players stepped up as well and they will need to do that again if they want to eliminate a #1 seed. UNC and UCLA really shouldn’t have many problems even though UCLA gave me a score by allowing Western Kentucky to stick around that late in the game. UNC has really showboated their way through the tournament and nothing would make me happier to see Louisville beat them, but I just don’t see it happening.

An update on the 8th grade kid who went 16/16 on his Sweet 16 teams… he went 7/8 this round – his only incorrect pick being Tennessee losing to Louisville. This kid has made only 8 incorrect predictions out of 72 games that have been played so far. That is a remarkable 89% accuracy. Simply amazing. Congrats kid.