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Monday, March 17, 2014


Many of us spent the last three weeks listening to all sorts of grand claims from what I'm calling the "6-of-the-last-8" crowd. And the month before that, they were the "5-of-the-last-7" group. In each case, Michigan Basketball fanatics tried to cover up their (obvious) inferiority complex by claiming supremacy for their team after a pair of three-game win-streaks in recent years.

I sure got sick of them, how about you? Never blamed them for being happy about their team, but to hear them constantly try to skew more than two decades of history over a pair of short streaks keyed by a pair of one-point wins was a bit much to stomach. Glad to see Tom Izzo and his team put those folks in their place in Indianapolis.

You can't take away the recent UM victories, and I'm not trying to dismiss them. They've certainly won more games recently, and the rivalry series is EVENING-UP as a result. No doubt it's a much closer rivalry now than at any time since Ed Martin was caught.

But the flaw in their reasoning was to exaggerate the value of a few close wins in the context of a one-sided series marked by Spartan blowouts over the Wolverines dating back nearly 15 years.

We like to use standard measuring-sticks to evaluate the status of a team, a program, or a rivalry series. We think in terms of 5s and 10s, and 25s, etc. So when MSU beat UM in football the first two or three years under Mark Dantonio, I couldn't get quite as excited as some folks did at the time, since the 5-year and/or 10-year metrics still favored Michigan. That series is just now shifting, with the Spartans winning 4-of-the-last-5, and a 5-5 split with MSU scoring a lot more points in the last decade. Beyond those time-frames, the series evens up and moves back towards UM.

So when the "5-of-7" crowd started to make noise, we expanded our measurements to see what the data was telling us. When that group switched to "6-of-8", we examined the data-base further. We found that the series was EVENING-UP, but most certainly had not switched to wolverine supremacy.

The game on Sunday has made the point for us. Even though it was just one game, that single outcome could now be used to switch-back the angle of measurement towards MSU, though only by "cherry-picking" the most favorable time-frame. At this point, one could point out that the two teams have split the last six games, but the Spartans have outscored the Wolverines by more than 30 points cumulative in those match-ups. In other words, Michigan has been winning some close games against Michigan State in recent years, but has not dominated them by any means.

So if you need to fight back against some chUMp who can't figure out what numbers mean, feel free to use the "3-of-6-with-more-points-scored" claim to shut that chUMp down. But please don't make it into a t-shirt or a bumper-sticker or even talk that way around mature adults. The six-game viewpoint only shows that the series is EVENING-UP. For while it may still be "6-of-the-last-9", it is also "6-of-the-last-13" (and of course, 3-3 in the last six).

We will soon be updating our summaries of the MSU vs UM basketball program rivalry series for both men's and women's teams. In the meantime, let's keep it real. The Michigan men's basketball team is better now than they have been for a long time, and it will be harder to keep pounding them down in the future. But the future is yet to be written. For the time being, let's just agree that the series is EVENING-UP.

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1 comment:

  1. Making too much sense! Cut it out!


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