Attention Stat Heads: Win $2,000 In Stat Geek Idol 2 — Due March 31

posted in NCAA Basketball, NCAA Tournament, Stat Geek Idol

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!

Grand Prize

$2,000 Cash

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.

Finalist Judges

  • Mark Cuban, Owner, Dallas Mavericks – Shark #1, Shark Tank
  • Dean Oliver, Director of Production Analytics, ESPN – Author, Basketball On Paper
  • Ken Pomeroy, Owner, – College basketball team consultant
  • Jeff Ma, Founder, TenXer & Citizen Sports – Former member, MIT Blackjack team
  • Ben Alamar, Professor, Menlo College – Author, Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers
  • Luke Winn, Senior college basketball writer, Sports Illustrated
  • John Gasaway, College basketball analyst, ESPN Insider
  • John Stasko, Professor & Associate Chair, Georgia Tech – Faculty, CS 4801 SA, Sports Analytics
  • Tobias Moskowitz, Professor, University of Chicago – Author, Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won
  • Jeff Haley, Founder, – Stat Geek Idol champion 2012

Submission Deadline

Sunday, March 31 @ 11:59 pm Pacific time

See the bottom of this post for how to enter.

Submission Format

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.

Contest Format

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:

  • The rankings of a panel of “celebrity” judges (to be announced)
  • The reviews of an analytical panel set up by Team Rankings
  • Possibly: An audience voting component (if we have time to do it)

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.

Judging Criteria

The three things we’re looking for are straightforward:

  1. Quality/rigor of analysis
  2. Uniqueness/creativity of analysis
  3. Presentation of analysis

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 HaleyHurry Up Offense: How Pushing The Pace Affects Shooting & Rebounding
Gregory Matthews4 Infographics To Prep You For The Final Four
Jordan SperberA Video Charter’s Guide To The Final Four
Nathan WalkerCoaches Love Assists … And Turnovers?

How To Enter

  1. Register for the contest if you haven’t yet.
    (If you registered last year, you don’t need to do it again.)
  2. Email your submission to before the submission deadline

Any questions, just drop a comment below, and please help us spread the word!

  • Wondering

    Two questions:

    If I want to cite other articles, can I simply have a link to it in the text, or should I cite it at the end of the article?
    Also, just want to clarify that you guys don’t care about single or double spacing, just the 4 page limit.


    Link in the text is fine…if you want to use a URL shortener to save space that’s fine too.

    As for single vs. double spacing, the technical answer is no, we don’t care. The slightly more nuanced answer is that the more concise and to the point your prose is, the better, and presentation counts. Four pages of single spaced 8 point font text is not something most readers are going to be excited to dive into, and analysis is useless if you can’t get an audience for it. And most big time decision-makers in sports have even less time on their hands than your average reader.

    I’d say single-spaced, 11+ pt font and text that is well structured with interspersed headers, etc. would present just fine.

  • yepi

    thank ! has share