The TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown is four years old, which means it's following roughly the same timeline as Daryl Morey's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. If Sloan is the Lollapalooza of hoops dorks (or, per Bill Simmons, Dorkapalooza) then the Smackdown is the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow.
Anybody remember that? It was an amazing sidepalooza to the mainpalooza. All at once it was intriguing, groteseque and painful, and I'm sure parts of it were illegal in some counties. The piano player chewing and swallowing glass was among the tamer bits. The other guy used a hammer to pound a nail through his flesh. As this is a family site, I don' t think I can even really go into what "Mr. Lifto" did.
And that's just like the Smackdown!
Actually, not at all. But this is a fun little sideshow (and I have to believe it really was painful last year when my mom beat one of stat geeks, although he handled it with class) with some real skill on display. Take this group of experts and compare the quality of their picks to whatever other experts you pick in advance (no cherry-picking after the fact) and few if any will do better than the combined efforts of this year's crew: David Berri, John Hollinger, Haralabos Voulgaris, Kevin Pelton, Jeff Ma, Neil Paine and Stephen Ilardi. And my mom, of course.
Going through all of the experts' picks and commentary is a real learning process. For instance: those of us around the NBA might feel that we're about to have several close-fought series. But for the record, the geeks were unanimous in which teams they picked to win six of the eight series. (Can you guess which two series divided the pack?) Maybe it's not as close as we think. Or maybe the data is sending off some funny signals.
In any case, I present to you, the 2010 TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown.