The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

The Boots (November 4, 2008)

Boot Up: Cavaliers + Hornets – The Cavaliers lost in New Orleans the other night as Chris Paul had yet another amazing night, but you will be hearing about these two teams well into the NBA Playoffs this season. Simply because LeBron had an off shooting night on the road against one of the top teams in the Western Conference, does not mean that Cleveland will trail behind Boston, Detroit, or Orlando again this season. This was not supposed to be a very easy game for the Cavaliers, and I expect within the team’s record to start to bounce back within the next week or so. The Hornets on the other hand, should continue to be a force in the Western Conference with stud-muffin Chris Paul and free agent pick up James Posey. In the next Boot Down about the most recent big trade in the NBA, I will analyze the rankings of the Eastern Conference, and here is my analysis about the West:

Western Conference Preview:

The LA Lakers are the top team in the NBA without a doubt. A healthy Andrew Bynum playing alongside Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Kobe Bryant means that the Lakers have the best starting lineup in the entire league. As is well documented on The Wages of Wins blog, it seems like that Lakers will be the top team in the league for quite some time as well.

The Mavericks, Suns, and Warriors are all fading and there is a distinct chance that none of these three may make the playoffs this season. Jason Kidd (35), Dirk Nowitzki (30), Jason Terry (31), Steve Nash (34), Grant Hill (36), and Shaquille O’Neal (36) all represent the aging sector of the West, and that is enough to make John Hollinger write that the East might actually be better this year. In addition, the Warriors without Baron Davis on roster, and Monta Ellis until possibly New Years, are simply just not that good anymore.

The Blazers are here to stay, and the Minnesota Timberwolves might not be that bad. I have been saying it for a while, and will continue to say it despite the recent injury to Greg Oden; the Blazers will make the playoffs in the West. Either the Nuggets or Mavericks will fall out of the race this year, while the Blazers with their incredibly talented young core will slide on in. Minnesota on the other hand, has developed quite a nice roster recently around Al Jefferson, and Mike Miller. They have young developing players in Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Kevin Love, Rodney Carney and Craig Smith, and if I had to pick one extra surprise team outside of Portland, it would be them.

1. LA Lakers (stayed the same since July predictions; 57 wins, #1 in West last year)
2. Houston (no change; 55 wins, #5 last year)
3. New Orleans (up from 4; 56 wins, #2)
4. Utah (down from 3; 54 wins, #4)
5. San Antonio (no change; 56 wins, #3)
6. Portland (no change; 41 wins, #10)
7. Phoenix (no change; 55 wins, #6)
8. Dallas (up from 9; 51 wins, #7)
9. Minnesota (up from 11; 22 wins, T-#13)
10. LA Clippers (down from 8; 23 wins, #12)
11. Denver (down from 10; 50 wins, #8)
12. Golden State (no change; 48 wins, #9)
13. Memphis (up from 15; 22 wins T-#13)
14. Sacramento (down from 13; 38 wins, #11)
15. Oklahoma City (down from 14; 20 wins, #15)

Boot Down: Another Stupid NBA Trade – Let me get this straight… The Pistons acquired Allen Iverson, a historically normal yet incredibly beloved scorer, for their team leader and a solid rebounder off the bench. I do not understand it at all. Certainly, it makes sense for the Pistons to begin to cut their costs in order to jump into the free agent frenzy of two summers from now, but until then it seems to me like they are conceding their rank in the Eastern Conference. A roster of Rasheed Wallace, Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, Kwame Brown, Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, Allen Iverson and Rodney Stuckey does not seem better than the lineup they had during their championship runs, and it might even bring them below the Cavaliers, 76ers and Magic in the East. The Nuggets on the other hand, add tons of money to their salary cap after getting rid of Marcus Camby over the summer for the exact opposite reason. I am not sure of what they are trying to do, but in the short run, I really like the combination of Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith, and Carmelo Anthony in the backcourt.

Eastern Conference Preview:

The Celtics will remain the best in the East, but certainly not the best in the NBA. Garnett, Pierce, Allen and, of course Rajon Rondo will certainly be enough for them to dominate all year long in the conference, but it is unlikely that they will be able to hold on in the playoffs. They will face tougher competition in the playoffs, as well as in the regular season as their stars are not getting any younger.

Orlando in adding Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus is not at all fading from the picture, despite the addition of Elton Brand to the Philadelphia 76ers and the addition of Mo Williams to the Cavaliers. Although the Magic did lose Carlos Arroyo in the offseason, they will still have the returning talent of All-World Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson, and Rashard Lewis. Expect all three of these teams to be near the top of the conference standings all year long.

Chicago, Indiana, Miami, and Charlotte will all be better than last year. This is the main reason why the East maybe quickly approaching the talent level of the West: there are just so many more teams with young, developing stars. Derrick Rose will combine with Joakim Noah and Luol Deng to make for an intriguing offense style of play under new Coach Vinny Del Negro. Danny Granger is one of the more underrated players in the league, and the addition of T.J. Ford will be a huge bust to the Pacers. Beasley, Marion and Wade are one of the best trios in the entire NBA, and will be good for a very long time if they can stay together, while Charlotte’s recent draft picks playing under new Coach Larry Brown are almost as plentiful as Portland’s.

1. Boston (stayed the same since July predictions; 66 wins, #1 in East last year)
2. Cleveland (no change; 45 wins, #4 last year)
3. Orlando (no change; 52 wins, #3)
4. Philadelphia (no change; 40 wins, #7)
5. Detroit (no change; 59 wins, #2)
6. Toronto (up from 8; 41 wins, #6)
7. Atlanta (down from 6; 37 wins, #8)
8. Miami (up from 10; 15 wins, #15)
9. Chicago (down from 7; 33 wins, #11)
10. Indiana (down from 9, 36 wins, #9)
11. Charlotte (no change; 32 wins, #12)
12. Milwaukee (no change; 26 wins, #13)
13. Washington (up from 14; 43 wins, #5)
14. New Jersey (down from 13; 34 wins, #10)
15. New York (no change; 23 wins, #14)

Boot Up: Election Day Review – Yeah, I know I said that that last report was my final analysis of this year’s election…. Nevertheless, here I am returning on Election Day with my FINAL look at all of the polling numbers. In short, all of the important states in this election have continued to trend towards Barack Obama in the last ten days. Even Pennsylvania, a state that many analysts predicted to trend towards John McCain in the final days of the campaign, has flat-lined for the most part. In the table below, I report all 22 toss-up states as I did last week, with my final 2008 numbers, the reported information on www.fivethirtyeight.com from November 3, their average since September 15, and the numbers I had in my table ten days ago:

Another Look at the Election Toss-Ups

Another Look at the Election Toss-Ups

The only state in this entire table that has not moved more towards Barack Obama in the last ten days is West Virginia, a state that has not been within six points over the last two and a half weeks. At the very best, it looks like Obama might be able to pull off Montana and North Dakota, but there will have to be a miracle of sorts for him to get Georgia or West Virginia.

It remains important to note that Barack Obama needs only to win one of the states in the purple category at the end of that table. With all of the other states, he already has 264 electoral votes to McCain’s 163. John McCain will need to win Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida for starters, just to get to 227 electoral votes. He will need another 43 from there to win the election, meaning that if he does not get a state like Ohio, it is pretty much over. Here is a look at the possible pathways to victory for John McCain with just these eight states and Pennsylvania available on the board. The probability of McCain winning the election under these conditions over at www.270towin.com is less than 1%.

Many polls recently have shown Barack Obama catching up to John McCain in several other typical GOP strongholds, including McCain’s home state of Arizona. Just to increase the spread of information, here is one final table with a list of the nine most competitive states after the pure toss-ups in the table above. Note that Maine is the only other state that is at all competitive on the Democratic aisle, but unlike the Republican states in this category, it has maintained a very strong lean since September, and especially recently.

The Next Tier of States to Watch

The Next Tier of States to Watch

I will be analyzing the numbers from my dorm here at the University of Dayton all night tonight. If you are at all interested in hearing my live opinion on some of the most updated exit polls and results, just send me an e-mail at mandy25505@yahoo.com. I will be checking my e-mail constantly, and I will be at my computer all night inputting new numbers to check whether certain states are still in play.

Boot Down: BCS Mayhem – I still cannot believe that Texas Tech pulled off an upset for the ages this past week over Texas. Their victory changed the entire landscape of the BCS, as Texas with one loss joins the ranks of Oklahoma and Florida in the second tier, instead of Alabama and Penn State at the very top. Despite their victory this past week, I still find it highly unlikely for Texas Tech to run the table in the Big XII, and I also highly doubt that Alabama will win both this win against LSU, and in the SEC Championship against big bad Florida. That is why, today November 4, I am boldly predicting a Penn State and Florida National Championship. This means that for the third year in a row, the people of this great nation will be stuck watching a SEC team dominate a Big Ten team that did not play a difficult enough schedule.

Here is my logic to this prediction: Texas will eventually win the Big XII, because Texas Tech will lose to Oklahoma State at home this week or at Oklahoma next week. A quirky rule in the Big XII tiebreakers has a three-way tie eventually decided by the highest ranking in the BCS Standings, and because Texas will be higher than both Oklahoma State/Oklahoma and Texas Tech heading into the Championship game, I expect them to be the representative from the Big XII South. They will then have the privilege of bolstering their strength of schedule by taking on either Missouri or Kansas from the Big XII North Division and easily winning the conference. All this while, Florida will easily win out during the rest of their regular season schedule, before advancing to play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The strength of Florida’s victory over #1 Alabama in this game will then be just enough to propel them over Texas, as voters and the computers will realize that Texas only beat Oklahoma State and Oklahoma during the regular season.

All this makes for yet another crazy season in college football. As Barack Obama stated last night on Monday Night Football, “I think it is about time we had playoffs in college football.” Despite all of this however, there still remains hope for Ohio State fans that all of the upsets at the top of the BCS Standings will enable them to move up to play in the Rose Bowl. Everyone knows how the Rose Bowl Committee loves their classical Big Ten and Pac-10 games, and I seriously doubt if they pass up on the opportunity to pit Ohio State against Southern California yet again.

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November 4, 2008 - Posted by | Politics, The Boots | , , , , , , ,

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