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Meaningless statistical analysis/The Red Line

February 16, 2012
By Brandon Veale - DMG Sports Editor (bveale@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

Numbers don't lie, but they can occasionally babble nonsensically.

Sportswriters are trained to recognize coincidental correlations and then attempt to retroactively create causality.

Our most cherished example of this was Tech women's basketball player Angela Guisfredi (now VanWagner): The Huskies were, at one point, 31-0 in games in which she made a three-pointer, leading to my occasionally calling her "The Dagger."

The dagger might have got you five minutes into the game, or with 30 seconds left in a 30-point game, a stab to the heart or just a flesh wound early in the battle, but you bled out just the same.

Of course, trends were made to be broken - Guisfredi made threes in two Tech losses during her senior season, but in that spirit, we present a series of totally meaningless statistical factoids for you to consider as the stretch drive takes place in high school basketball.

1. All seven of Calumet's girls' basketball losses have been by 10 points or more.

Fact Box

There were a lot of setbacks to be had in the world of the WCHA. In particular, Michigan Tech had a setback in its Winter Carnival series, and I had a setback trying to predict it, going 3-6-1.

However, there's still three weeks left in the season - so there's games to play and and to pick. Redemption starts here.

Michigan Tech at North Dakota

The Huskies season has ended in North Dakota three of the last five years. That could still happen, but under drastically different circumstances. The teams are separated by just one point in the league standings with six games remaining. Like many teams before it, North Dakota got off to a poor start, losing six of their first eight WCHA games. They've won four of five since, but the usual suspects: Matt Frattin, Chay Genoway, etc., are gone. If Tech can win in Duluth and Minneapolis, why not Grand Forks?

The Verdict: UND 5-3 Friday, Tech 4-1 Saturday

Denver at Wisconsin

Wisconsin is in next-to-last in the WCHA. That statement makes no sense. After last weekend, Denver is right back in the race for the MacNaughton Cup. That statement makes only slightly more sense than the first one, but Minnesota and UMD both dumped points, while Denver swept the Gophers. DU is now two points back of the lead, making this week's series look like a oddly shaped banana peel. The one place Wisconsin's been good this year is at home, and the Badgers are going to want to make their last series at the Kohl Center this weekend a good one.

The Verdict: DU 6-3 Friday, UW 3-1 Saturday

Bemidji State at Minnesota

How many chances is Minnesota going to get at the MacNaughton Cup? Leading contender UMD faltered in spectacular fashion, going 2-3-1 over the last three weeks, and Minnesota responds by going 0-for-Denver. The Gophers try to get back on track against a suddenly red-hot Bemidji State team that swept Colorado College and is a factor down the stretch in the race for home ice. The Gophers blow two more points here, and UMD retakes the league lead.

The Verdict: BSU 2-1 Friday, UMn 4-2 Saturday

Alaska-Anchorage at St. Cloud State

The big winner last weekend was probably St. Cloud State, which sat idle but didn't lose major ground in the race for home ice. The Huskies, now rested, get a UAA team almost certain to finish last, followed by a chance to decide their own destiny in Houghton next weekend. UMD at home on the last weekend's not ideal, but they may be in good enough position to stay in the top six by then. SCSU picks up four points and the Huskies and the Huskies enter next weekend's series exactly even.

The Verdict: SCSU sweeps 5-2, 4-2

Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota State

UMD hit its bump in the road, but this weekend's trip to Mankato is an opportunity to get back on the winning track. The Mavericks aren't pushovers but aren't top-half material either. Minnesota won't be doling out many more chances to gain ground in the MacNaughton Cup, so the Bulldogs had better strike while the iron is hot.

The Verdict: UMD sweeps 6-3, 4-2

Nebraska-Omaha at Colorado College

Really, who wins this series isn't that big of a deal, provided it's a sweep. A four-point weekend probably elevates the Tigers or Mavericks no worse than four points clear of the field with two weekends to go and throws the swept team back into a lions' den that could feature as many as four teams on 25 points alone. A split gives both sides positional advantage, however tenuous, and makes it harder for the Huskies to catch either from behind. I'll write off CC's trip to Bemidji as a bad weekend and pick the Tigers to end the weekend in fourth, with UNO back into a sixth-place tie, this time with St. Cloud in the mix, too.

The Verdict: CC sweeps 4-3, 4-2

Last week: 3-6-1

For the season: 97-71-18 (57.0 percent)

2. Lake Linden-Hubbell's girls' basketball team has alternated wins and losses in its last 13 games dating back to a Dec. 16 win at Hancock - in case you're wondering, the pattern indicates loss tonight at home against Dollar Bay.

3. The Lakes need two wins in their last three games to avoid hosting a district tournament in which all five participating teams have a losing record.

4. Speaking of the Bays, they might not be too sad that tonight's game and the districts are in Lake Linden. All three of their wins to this point (Hancock, Chassell, Jeffers) have been on the road.

5. On the boys' side, much has been made of Ewen-Trout Creek's prolific offense (102 points in 32 minutes? How does one find the time?). However, Jeffers (43.4 ppg) currently has more players averaging in double figures (Troy Kinnunen, Ethan Kinnunen, Alex Outinen) than do the Panthers (77.9 ppg with 23.5 coming from Dillon Gordon and 17.8 from Jordan LaPlant).

6. Calumet is 1-3 in WestPAC boys' basketball home games and would be 4-0 in road league games with a win at Houghton Feb. 28.

7. Ewen-Trout Creek scored 75 points in a half Tuesday night. Of the other 10 local teams, only Hancock and L'Anse have scored 75 points in a game this season.

Furthermore, Hancock needed West Iron County to get two technicals to get to 78, while L'Anse needed double overtime to get to 77.

8. Houghton has outscored its opponents 769-750 this season and is 6-9.

The Gremlins' losses have been by six, eight, four, four, six, five, nine, seven and 10 points.

9. On the ladies' side, there remain 14 girls who have scored in every game their team has played.

The leading scorer is Taylor Dillinger of Houghton (13.4 ppg), while Lily Williams of Hancock (5.5 ppg) has the least. Don't knock it. That's consistent production.

10. In case you were wondering - the boys' side has 22 such players, led by Gordon's 23.5 per game. The Consistent Contributor award goes to Calumet's Paul Torola (5.7 ppg).

What does this all mean? Little to nothing. I thrive on silly stuff like this, though a day looms when much more consequential numbers will go into my stat spreadsheets.

It might seem meaningless, but some day we'll find it, the statistical connection, the writers, the dreamers and me.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale. For this week's WCHA?picks, check out the column at mininggazette.com.

 
 

 

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