More On Expectations

In my article on Shavlik Randolph the other day, I wrote about why I rarely make absolute predictions. I don’t because I understand that humans and athletic competitions are inherently unpredictable. If outcomes could be 100% determined ahead of time, competition would be no fun.
Al Featherston recently wrote a much longer and better article on the same general topic. He focused those same principles on the subject of expectations for very good and great teams. As he points out with plenty of statistics and examples, the great teams rarely win all of their games and the best team rarely wins the national championship.
Think of some classic examples – Duke with Brand, Battier, Langdon, Avery and Carawell in 1999, Illinois last year, North Carolina with Jordan, Dougherty, Doherty, Smith, Perkins in 1984 and Wolf) and UNLV in 1991 with Johnson, Augmon, Hunt, Anthony and Scurry. Were those teams failures because they didn’t win the national championship? Were their seasons disappointments? No! The endings of their seasons were disappointings, but the seasons were still great.
Think about that as you watch Duke and Connecticut this year and listen to folks tell you that they should win it all and it’ll be a shock if they don’t.
Featherston also throws in a bit at the end where he brings up an old memory of mine – of the differences in stats keeping in the ACC in the early 80s. I remember watching great point guards at Virginia – Jeff Jones and Othell Wilson and not understanding why they never ranked near the league lead in assists. It turns out, as Featherston points out, that the UVA stat-keepers just didn’t like giving out assists, while the folks at places like Clemson and UNC doled them out freely. Check the league stats from those days to see what I mean.

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