Friday, November 4, 2011

ESPN the Mag

With many thanks to John Gasaway, I am pleased to announce that my preseason rankings appear in ESPN the Magazine’s Nov. 14th College Basketball Preview. If you are not familiar with my preseason predictions model, here is an overview:

The best predictor of future success is opponent adjusted margin-of-victory. This is the basis for Jeff Sagarin’s Predictor Rankings and Ken Pomeroy’s Tempo Free Rankings. But college rosters experience significant turnover between seasons. Fortunately, Dean Oliver developed statistics that estimate each player’s contribution to the offense and defense. These individual “tempo free” statistics can be used to estimate how each team’s offense and defense will change from one year to the next. Today I use this information to predict the 2011-12 season.

The basic model incorporates several well-established basketball facts: First, experience matters. Teams that have more returning minutes (and possessions) tend to improve. Second, teams that return more efficient scorers (i.e. better shooting percentage, fewer turnovers) improve more than teams that return less efficient scorers. Third, the biggest leap in development is from a player’s freshman year to his sophomore year. Teams that give major minutes to freshmen tend to improve significantly the following season. Fourth, the loss of injured players (such as USC’s Jio Fontan), and the return of injured players (such as Purdue’s Robbie Hummel) has a predictable impact on team performance. Fifth, for incoming transfers, the performance with the previous team provides some information about the player’s future performance. Sixth, coaching ability impacts performance in a predictable manner. And finally, high school recruits can have a significant impact on a team’s performance. High school recruits ranked in the Top 10 have the biggest impact, but players ranked in the Top 100 are also important. This year I also account for the fact that historical team prestige impacts recruiting. (This is less important for BCS teams where the biggest factor is Top 10 and Top 100 recruits. But for smaller schools, historical team prestige is often the only factor we have to separate the quality of recruiting classes.) These factors are combined to produce a numeric ranking of teams for the upcoming college basketball season.

ESPN voted for the Top 25 and only used my rankings to rank the other 319 teams. For the most part, I think ESPN got the top 25 right. But if you have questions about why my model loves or hates certain teams, send me a tweet @DanHanner.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where You Can Find Me

I write for You can find my columns at But if you want a direct link to my content, I actually have two archives on the website:

Here is the archive for articles

Here is the archive for blog posts

What is the difference between an article and a blog post? I have no idea. I just write them and send them in and they appear somewhere.

Starting today, I am going to try to highlight my new content on Twitter. Find me @DanHanner. But if you want to know what you missed this summer, here is a quick summary.

You probably do not want to read more about conference expansion, but I tried to be creative when I wrote about it. For the record, I am the rare person who enjoys it when conferences re-arrange themselves. I would like to see Texas become an independent in football and join C-USA in all other sports. Here I wrote something about Baylor that was a little bit mean. I also wrote this where I blame Texas for Texas A&M leaving.

This is a fun article where I try to pick dark horse teams in 2011-2012.

When writing the article for the Tar Heel tip-off, I started thinking about whether Tony Bennett was really an elite basketball coach.

Here is something I wrote about whether college stats predict NBA draft position. For the record, I have tried to adopt the philosophy of embracing early entrants. I am not sure I can always do it, but that’s my new philosophy.

I went looking for players with great stats but an under-achieving team. It was harder than I thought.

This is the worst title for a post. I would never click on any link that said that. But the article includes a number of tangents and I think it is one of the better pieces I have written. I seriously need to go back and come up with a better title.

If you can read these tables (wow those things are hideously ugly), here is a nice analysis of Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger.

Some nice blurbs on the 2012 holiday tournaments.

Here are some things that seemed good at the time, but may be slightly out of date. I tried to average the coaching stats again this year. I thought these articles were a bit bland, because I have hit this topic before and I didn’t really learn anything new in the process. But if you haven’t seen it before, it is useful. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6. Also, my “predictions” model is being updated, and the predictions are all out-of-date. But the theme about the Big 12 being wide open this year (found at the end of this column) is something you will be reading everywhere soon. In my opinion, nothing else is worth going back to read.

And now this blog will go back to being dormant.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Welcome to Twitter

I have finally caved.

You can now follow me @DanHanner

I have been reluctant to join Twitter for several reasons:

1) I cannot seem to write anything that is less than 140 characters.

2) Twitter is often about sharing thoughts instantly. I like to wait. Allow me to explain. Most live blogs are exceptionally boring. Bill Simmons' live blogs work because they are retro diaries. He jots down numerous thoughts during a game, and then edits those into a humorous summary later. I give credit to people who can think of witty things to say on a moments notice, but that is not me. When I think of random Twitter-length things to say, I jot them down in a notebook and try to turn them into a column. In fact, this is exactly how I generate my Monday Morning column during the college basketball season.

3) When my wife and I went to Maui for our 10 year annivesary, we were walking on the Kaanapali beach boardwalk and there was this gorgeous sunset. We walked by one of the restaurants and I noticed a table of six people, all sitting with their heads down staring at their smart phones. That doesn't make any sense to me. And that's one of the reasons I'm afraid to go on Twitter. If you send me an @reply, there's a good chance I'm not going to check your message right away, and I hate to be the guy who never responds. But I am that guy.

But a few things have swung me to the dark side:

1) Every once in awhile I write something that I enjoy. Usually I hate everything I write, but when I write something good, I want to be able to shout about it to the world. But email is a poor way to do this. Twitter seems better.

2) I am afraid Ballin is a Habit is going to do another one of those, "People to Read" features and I'm going to be the only one without a Twitter account.

3) People tell me it is a better way to communicate. I'm skeptical, but why not try?

But I am warning you in advance: I am not going to check it every day, and I would like to apologize in advance for anything stupid that I do.