Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Ten Standings Prediction

Since everyone is coming out with their conference predictions this time of year, I thought I'd try to do the same, with a different methodology. Instead of making an educated guess, I used trends from the past 3 years to make my predictions, a very rudimentary predictive analytics. For example, Michigan won 3 games in 2008, 5 in 2009, and 7 again in 2010, for average improvement of 1.33 games a season. Since you can't win only a quarter or 2 quarters of a game (unless you ask Missouri fans in 2009), I rounded down to 1, for a projection of 8 wins this season.

While this method is obviously flawed, as teams who lost a lot of games have more room to move up, it still is pretty close to what most predictions are for the season. It looks like it will be Michigan St. versus Ohio St. for the inaugural Big Ten title game if past trends continue into this season.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Total Yards for 2010 - The Great Divide

Since Nebraska lost a lot of offensive NFL talent after last year (Roy Helu and Niles Paul to the Redskins, McNeil to the Colts), the biggest concern a lot of people have is who will replace those yards this season. However, looking at this chart, a bigger questions should be, how will we spread out the yards. As you can see, 3 players got the majority of rushing and receiving yards, Helu, Burkhead, and Martinez. But this was often a feast or famine situation, as if you shut down 2 of them (or all 3) then we weren't going to move the ball.

I'll be intersted in seeing how we spread the ball out this year and who steps up to fill in for the departed players. My guess is will players who weren't on the team last year, like Braylon Heard and Jamal Turner.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big Plays 2010

Everyone talks about how important big plays are in a team's offense, here's a vizualization of big plays (plays that gain 20+ yards) versus negative (plays that gain zero or less yards) on a game-by-game basis for the main offensive threats.

Looking at the numbers, in the 4 losses, we had at least 13 negative yardage plays (16 or more against A&M, OU, and Washington in the bowl). As for big plays, we only had 12 in our 4 losses, compared to an astounding 65 negative plays in those same games.

Comparatively, we had almost 5 big plays per game in our wins, with only an average of 7 negative plays per win. So while are many factors that play into winning a losing the game, as you can see here, minimizing the number of negative plays you have will really help increase your chances of winning the game (not that you needed this vizualization to tell you that).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tableau Public Sportz Viz Entry

Below is my entry in Tableau's sportz visualization contest ( For my entry, I entered every offensive play from the 2010 Nebraska football team into a database to see what might be interesting that you wouldn't see in the game by game summarized box scores. While I spent way too much time entering the data and not enough time visualizing it, this was a good exercise for the upcoming season, which I plan to do a similar analysis week-to-week. It's way easier to enter 1 game's worth of data than 14 at one time.

While I won't go into too much detail about all the tabs right now, I did find some interesting information, such as Rex Burkhead led the team in total percentage of offensive yards 5 of the last 6 games and that on 3rd down at home, Nebraska rushed for over 3 times more yards per rush to the right side compared to the left side.

While it's not as good as I would have liked since I put too much time into collecting the data and I know it won't win, I had fun doing it, and that's the main point, and Tableau really makes it fun to analyze data. My next steps will be to dig a little deeper into the data, and hopefully continue this on a week to week basis creating a new viz for each game.

First post

Hi, testing out the new blog. This is where I will be posting my visualizing of sports data, mainly Huskers stats using They're having a sports viz contest, will be posting my entry shortly.