March 22, 2013 - by Tom Federico
After a very successful inaugural year, TeamRankings’ Stat Geek Idol competition is back!
Last March, Jeff Haley captured the crown with his analysis of play-by-play data showing the impacts of pace, drawing rave reviews for his work from SGI final round judges including Mark Cuban, Dean Oliver, Ken Pomeroy, and Jeff Ma.
Who’s going to impress the judges and bring home the greenbacks this year? If you’re an armchair stat geek, this is your big chance to get your work noticed by some of the biggest names in basketball analytics and media!
Since last year’s contest was so successful, we’re doubling the prize for the 2013 winner to two grand. We were inspired by last year’s response and want to raise the bar even higher.
See the bottom of this post for how to enter.
This year’s submission format will be different than SGI1. In terms of a deliverable, this year we are giving you a 374 square inches of blank canvas (that’s four 8.5” x 11” pages) to blow us away with something analytical about college basketball. We are intentionally defining the format in a vague way because we don’t want to constrain creativity or skill sets. Just send us four pages of work.
A four page article, all text, works. Four pages of data visualizations with hardly any text? Yup, that also works. Or anything else that fits. Just keep in mind if you focus on graphics, that whatever you send us, we’re going to scale it to 374 square inches, print it out, and judge what we see. If it’s not easy to read and understand at that size, that’s bad for you.
Since large data sets often sit behind interesting analysis, we don’t expect you to try to cram all of the raw data that powers your SGI entry into four pages. However, if we have questions or concerns during the judging process, we may ask to see your underlying data set and/or learn more about its sources.
Last year, we structured SGI as a multi-round “tournament” to mimic March Madness, with three rounds of submissions. We’re simplifying for SGI2. It’s just one single submission, due on March 31.
After a review process by Team Rankings staff and some external quantitatively-minded peers, a short list of SGI finalists will be announced within several days of the submission deadline. These finalists will then be further judged via either a two or three dimensional process:
We plan to announce the $2,000 winner within a day or so of the 2013 NCAA tournament championship game on Monday, April 8.
You can analyze anything that relates to college basketball in an important and meaningful way. It doesn’t have to be specifically about this season, either.
The three things we’re looking for are straightforward:
A great SGI submission presents ironclad quantitative reasoning that either sheds light on something previously unknown yet important about college basketball, or confirms or dispels conventional wisdom about the game. Either the topic is completely fresh, or it’s a completely new and unique way of exploring an existing topic/debate. Finally, it is delivered in a way that is easy — and ideally entertaining — for a decently intelligent college basketball fan to follow.
You should assume that your audience for SGI are college hoops fans who respect and enjoy data-driven analysis, but who aren’t practitioners or math nerds themselves. If you drop a bunch of heavy mathematical or statistical terms without simple and clear explanation, you are going to lose them.
On the other hand, you should assume they do already have a grounding in the more foundational basketball research that’s been put out. They understand “the myth of the hot hand” and why per-game stats are silly, for example, so no need to regurgitate the basics.
It’s also OK if your submission has already been published elsewhere within the last year. Our goal is to reward great analysis, not just great analysis done on demand.
For reference, here’s the Final Four from 64 total entries competing in 2012:
Jeff Haley: Hurry Up Offense: How Pushing The Pace Affects Shooting & Rebounding
Gregory Matthews: 4 Infographics To Prep You For The Final Four
Jordan Sperber: A Video Charter’s Guide To The Final Four
Nathan Walker: Coaches Love Assists … And Turnovers?
Any questions, just drop a comment below, and please help us spread the word!
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