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Monday, July 13, 2015


(originally published on 3-9-15)

Many fans of Michigan Basketball are pointing to their overtime losses this season as the reason why everything went sour. After all, the Wolverines have lost four out of five OT games this year, and if they were all wins, maybe UM would be back up on one side or another of "The Bubble". (And as they say, if my Aunt had nuggets, she'd be my Uncle!)

Well, that story passes muster on first glance. If any team could simply switch four losses to four wins, they'd be having a much better season, right? But let's take a closer look.

Turns out UM keyed their recent mini-run in large part by winning close games. Overtime finishes are the closest of all games, and most teams, on average, should win/lose about 50% of such contests. But the Wolverines actually won 88% (7 of 8) of their overtime games during their three-year glory streak in 2012, 2013, and 2014. In the four years prior to their Quest for Relevancy, John Beilein found victory six times in eight extra sessions.

Michigan was 13-3 in overtime games
under John Beilein prior to this season.

In statistical theory, this process is known as "regression to the mean". Over time and repetitions, all data tends to settle back down to the natural law of averages.* So if enough time is allowed to operate within this system, Michigan could be expected to lose the next seven games that go into overtime. If that happens, their John Beilein Overtime Record would then be ".500".

The close losses this year are
"balancing out" the record at UM.

So there's no need for griping or depression or promising that things will improve when their luck turns for the better. There's no need for any of that because nothing is happening here. The reason Michigan has lost four out of five overtime games in 2015 is because the cycle of chance played out in their favor for awhile, but now it's balancing out. Case closed.


2015:  1-4
2014:  2-0
2013:  2-1
2012:  3-0
2011:  1-1
2010:  2-0
2009:  3-1
2008:  0-0

14-7 Overall
13-3 prior to this season (82%)

*apologies to MSUSpartan76 if the wording here is faulty in any way
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