3/7/2022 Boilermaker Water Cooler Chat: Roulette Edition

Photo: Mark Elsner

Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports.

I am no math major. I am not great with numbers, nor am I great with deriving the analytics which the computers tell us who is good or not at basketball. I have always preferred the eye test.

What I do understand about statistics, probability, game theory, whatever… is very high level, and almost on the theoretical end of the spectrum.

You would imagine that “luck” should follow some sort of normal distribution. Approximately 1/2 of the time things should go your way, approximately 1/2 of the time things should go against you. There’s standard deviations in there, probability indexes, variables, homoscedasticity, among other science-y sounding words which factor in.

The bottom line is, if luck is completely left to numbers, then things should be random. Eventually a bell curve will flesh out, and the mathematicians will be happy campers at the end of the day. Statistics pretty much boil down to two hypotheses:

  • The Null Hypothesis: Nothing is going on, and any variation in outcome is found by chance.
  • The Alternative Hypothesis: Something is going on, a trend is happening.

What happens then, when a team loses 6 games in a regular season. 4 of which on “last second” shots. What are the odds that a team will achieve 66.6% (2/3) of their losses will be due to uncharacteristically lucky bounces?

What are the odds that a last second shot goes in? What are the odds that the last second shot is a three? What are the odds that the last second 3 is missed so badly that is is banked in? What are the odds that a last second, banked in, three point shot, is immediately preceded by another 3 point “range” shot that is also missed so badly that it is banked in? Yeah, if you’re looking at a bell curve… you’re venturing well into the .3% range of error.

Again, I am not math major here, but even I can see that there has been some skewed data for Purdue this season, and (in fairness) historically. I’m an eye test guy… and seeing is believing. Truth is stranger than fiction. Being a Purdue fan is seeing things happen before your very eyes. Unimaginable horrors of sport, which defy game theory, and statistical probability. It’s the Boilermaker way.

The Games:

#8 Purdue 67, #10 Wisconsin 70: Purdue faced Wisconsin in a must win game, traveling north on a chilly Tuesday. While Purdue held Wisconsin super-human Johnny Davis in check most of the game, the Badgers responded with a solid team performance.

Purdue on the other hand played improved defense, but sloppy offense. Double digit turnovers negated a second half surge. Jaden Ivey had 22 points, including a dagger three to tie the game in the waning moments.

What both preceded and followed that dagger three was the aforementioned bank shots. Two scoring attempts from Johnny Davis, and another by Chucky Hepburn, were missed so badly that they went in. Both of which were long distance, 3 point range, albeit Davis’ was a foot on the line variety. Both of these shots were the billiards equivalent of “slop”. Johnny Davis is even quoted as calling the game winning, Chucky Hepburn shot as “… Some bullsh*t, but it went in.”

Bottom line is, Wisconsin comes out victorious.

Indiana 67, #8 Purdue 69: Purdue ho-hummed its way into the most lack-luster win over perhaps the most lack-luster Indiana Hoosiers ballclub that I have seen.

Purdue did not play well, but just well enough to obtain a painful but relieving victory. Eric Hunter Jr. led the way with 17 points, leading the way to a senior night victory for the outgoing Boilermaker leader.

Break It Down:

Well, the last few games for this Purdue squad has been… tense. Absorbing a last second, banked in, three pointer to lose the Big Ten title is painful. Luckily, however, the Boilermakers did not allow a hangover to allow Indiana to take advantage of a wounded Purdue squad.

The bottom line is simple, Purdue has wet themselves down the stretch, and they need to towel themselves off before the big dance.

Is this team good enough to win a national championship? Sure. Is this team flawed enough to lose in the first round to a mid major? Absolutely. Probably on a last second, overhead, banked-in, circus shot. It’ll be played ad nauseum in perputiutiy, for all of March Madness history.

Sorry, I’ve digressed.

Can this team make a run in March? Yes. I firmly believe that this team is better suited for non-Big Ten style of basketball. Not only do the records show this, but the eye test does as well.

Unfortunately we wish that teams would be peaking at this time of the year, and this Purdue squad is not doing so. That doesn’t mean that this is a lost cause, as the Big Dance is a crapshoot. Maybe the statistically significant bad luck will turn for the Boilermakers.

Big Man on Campus:

Eric Hunter Jr. experienced his last home game, leading the Boiler Nation to one final victory in Mackey Arena.

While Hunter Jr. may not have been an all B1G type of player, he has absolutely been invaluable to the Boilermakers throughout his 4 years. He will also be a key to Purdue’s run in the NCAA Tournament, as his steady hand is something that the Boilers can rely on.

A Look Ahead:

Purdue now enters the Big Ten Tournament scope of the season. The Boilermakers will be the 3 seed, earning a double bye, playing on Friday night 3/11. While it is likely that Purdue will take on Ohio State, you never know what will happen.

It is March, and single elimination tournaments can cause some havoc!

Purdue – Indiana Photo Gallery: https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball-19-20/21-22/Indiana/

Photo: Mark Elsner

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About Benjamin Kolodzinski 105 Articles
Blending the passion of a sports fan with years of media experience, Ben Kolodzinski is a unique personality for ISC Purdue. Since the 2017-18 NCAA seasons, Ben has written weekly columns for ISC, with a style that can only be described as snarky, irreverent, and often times irrelevant. A 2008 graduate from Purdue West Lafayette, Kolodzinski has worked for several local and regional media outlets. Best known for his television and radio work at Lakeshore Public Media (Lakeshore Public Television, and 89.1 The Lakeshore), Kolodzinski helped grow Northwest Indiana's only nightly news show Lakeshore News Tonight, along with The Region's only local sports shows Prep Sports Report, and Prep Football Report. As of 2022, Kolodzinski hosts Lakeshore Gamenight, a prep football radio show and cohosts Lakeshore PBS Scoreboard, a prep football TV highlight show. Kolodzinski is known, locally, for having a fun loving and gregarious personality, and for attempting to inject humor into his reporting... sometimes successfully.

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