Sometimes the Math Adds Up, Sometimes Not

The most likely outcome of the pending move of the Big 12's Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns to the SEC — as our colleague Jean Neuberger reported on August 11 is the Big 12 collapsing altogether, with the four surviving "AQ" conferences expanding from 12 or 14 teams, as applicable, to 16.

But to answer the $64 question, Notre Dame's return to independent status has rolled back the total number of "AQ" schools to a convenient 64 — just the right amount for the new "Big Four" to have 16 teams apiece.

Even which of the Big 12's remaining eight teams — what an exquisite irony that this conference originally was known as the Big 8! — go into what conferences poses no problem at all.

The Big 10 absorbs Iowa State and West Virginia — you will be absorbed, Cyclones and Mountaineers! — while the Pac 12 welcomes Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. That leaves Baylor and TCU for the ACC — not perfect, but truth be told, there is no perfect way to do this.

Same goes for what the schedules would look like: In the most likely scenario, there would be four four-team divisions, or "pods." Each team plays its three division rivals every year, and the teams in the other three divisions every other year, simply playing the two teams from a given division that they did not play in Year 1 in Year 2.

Using a model heavily borrowed from the schedule format that the NFL observed from 1988 through 1994, every pair of teams from the same division can be assured of two additional games against common opponents, over and above the three games within the division.

Common opponents can also be used to break a tie for seeding between two division winners who finished with the same record (within the conference) and did not play each other during the season — and the four division winners would be seeded in determining the matchups for the new conference semifinal playoffs — 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 — with the higher seeds also getting home-field advantage, certainly in the semifinals, and maybe even in the conference title game as well.

(This is only fair because a team from a weak division might easily win that division with a losing record within the conference while another team wins a strong division after having gone undefeated in conference play.)

However, the assignments for these games would not be determined by where the teams finished in their division the season before, but rather, by alphabetical order — which is actually what the NFL has used to determine home-and-away assignments for out-of-division games since its own realignment in 2002.

True, with no wild-card berths in the new conference semifinal playoffs, inequities — as in the NFL last season, when the 7-9 Washington Football Team made the playoffs while the 10-6 Miami Dolphins did not — are likely to be both frequent, and significant.

Guess this is why the lesser bowl games exist — just like the corresponding inequities give the NIT its raison d'etre in college basketball.

But at least the SEC, and presumably, the three conferences in the conspiracy — oops, I mean proposed alliance — against it, would appear to understand basic arithmetic.

That is more than one can say for Caesars Sportsbook.

On Friday, Caesars posted its list of over-unders for win totals for each NBA team for the 2021-22 season, which begins on October 19 — just 91 days after the Bucks closed out their NBA Finals win over Phoenix on July 20 — with the Brooklyn Nets having the highest total, 54.5, despite seeing their 2020-21 season end in the Elite Eight. (Oklahoma City has the lowest win total, at 22.5 — despite the fact that three teams won fewer games than the Thunder did a season ago.)

While one can agree or disagree with the Nets being installed as the conceptual favorites, it is beyond dispute that the book's numbers are off: add up all 30 of the over-under totals, and they come to 1,241 (they also listed the Kings twice, and the Rockets not at all).

And what's wrong with that? This: 30 (the number of teams) times 41 (the number of wins that each team needs for a .500 season) only adds up to 1,230.

Would you want to bet with an outfit like this?

Leave a Comment

Featured Site