By: Edward Egros


A Better Way to Compare Athletes?

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Walker Zimmerman of FC Dallas earned an invitation to play for Team USA and has already logged international acclaim. European clubs are also reportedly interested in his services. It is safe to say he has impressed enough around the world to be considered one of the more talented American-born soccer players currently playing.

Comparing soccer—as well as basketball and hockey players—has often been an inexact science. Some refer to their approach as the "eye" test while others use more analytical approaches. For instance, basketball has "
wins produced per 48 minutes played", hockey has "goals versus threshold" and soccer has "goal probability added". But one of the problems one data scientist poses is it is difficult to compare athletes who play different positions, have different styles of play and may emphasize different skill sets.

At the 2017 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference,
Shael Brown, an undergraduate student at Dalhousie University in Canada, proposes a new metric based upon the PageRank algorithm, the way Google's search engine ranks websites in its results. His presentation discusses how players' "relative ranks" when it comes to the flow of their game, can better help us compare the best in each sport.

To listen to this podcast,
click here.

To read Shael Brown's paper,
click here.

The Art of Projecting the NCAA Tournament Field

IMG_1689To predict the field for college basketball's NCAA Tournament properly, you have to watch a lot of games and keep up with a lot of teams. You also have to determine which metrics most accurately reflect the tournament committee's decisions for inclusion and seeding. One bracketologist who crunches the numbers throughout the season is Shelby Mast. You can read his projections in USA Today, on his website, and you can follow him on Twitter @BracketWAG.

To listen to this podcast, click here.