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The Little Team That Can

February 29, 2012

Wanna know what pisses me off?

Its all the discussion by the talking heads regarding CSU’s status as a bubble team and whether they deserve an at-large bid. National media like ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb or Joe Lunardi. Local media who don’t have stupid Bronco discussion to fall back on this time of year. All of the discussion has to do with what is perceived as an inflated RPI. And how the team is lacking big wins or has too many road losses. Blah, blah, blah. Because all of what they say may be the case but it loses out on the real story this season.

And here’s the real story…

After watching CSU beat New Mexico last week starting a line-up with the tallest player at 6’5″ I decided to do a little research. I wanted to find out where CSU ranked in terms of height when compared historically to teams throughout the country that had received an At-Large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

So I shot an e-mail to Ken Pomeroy who is the absolute best when it comes to statistics as they relate to college basketball. Pomeroy has a web-site with statistics that are vital to describing performance. And he has a statistic called Effective Height which combines the height of the players on a team weighted by the number of minutes each one plays.

Pomeroy has tracked this information since 2007 and he graciously sent me data. And here is what the data says were the smallest teams to gain at-large bids since 2007:

Year School National Rank
2007 Tennessee 293
2008 Mississippi State 242
2009 Arizona State 317
2010 Marquette 308
2011 Alabama-Birmingham 293

And now to put CSU’s 2012 performance in perspective…

CSU is currently ranked 339th in all of D-1 in Effective Height And the odds of it going up from here are slim and none with the season-ending back injury to 7-footer Trevor Willliams. If they receive an At-Large bid, they would be the smallest team since Pomeroy has started keeing these stats to receive one!

Statistically the Rams may up against the wall when it comes to gaining an At-Large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They need to close the season with wins over UNLV and Air Force and then probably win at least one round of the MWC Tournament. Not something you’d bet on based on probabilities.

But the truth is that they have been defying statistics and probabilities all season long. And that’s because there are no statistics that measure the level of effort or the size of the heart of those playing the game.

So the next time you watch this team, whether in person or on TV, think back to that children’s book titled The Little Engine That Could. And while you’re thinking they can, realize that the players themselves know they can.

And enjoy!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. outwash permalink
    February 29, 2012 4:31 am

    great article swoll thanks.

    One note on Pomeroy’s “effective height” . I think it is weighted by position. So the statistic gives the most weight to your tallest player, the next highest weight to the “4” position, next highest weight to ‘3’ position, ect. Whereas Pomeroy’s “average height” treats all the positions equally.

    Thanks for researching this. An NCAA bid would be truly historic.


  2. Good SHEPHERD permalink
    February 29, 2012 5:19 pm

    Great stuff, Swoll!

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