Talking College Sports All Over the Place

Yesterday I spoke with Kathleen Hays and Vonnie Quinn on Bloomberg Radio.  Our conversation focused on the University of Michigan’s hiring of Jim Harbaugh.  And if you are a Michigan football fan…. well, I probably didn’t make you happy (and won’t make you happy if you listen right now!).   In addition, if you read the Detroit News, you can see further evidence that I am still NOT making fans of this team happy (the college team I grew up rooting for!).

Not everything I have said recently is critical of Michigan.  Huffington Post recently started a new sports blog called The Tackle.  My initial column for this venture focused on the men’s basketball program at the University of Michigan.  Yes, the team is not very good this year.  But I noted that even players who do not produce many wins still produce more revenue for their college team than they cost the university.  So that’s good news!  At least, if you are rooting for your universities’ finances (which you probably are not!).   Of course, if you are concerned about workers being exploited… well, that is still a problem (yes, I am still critical of college sports).

The story on Michigan’s basketball team reports the Wins Produced of the player’s employed by the team in 2013-14 and after 12 games in 2014-15.  The model is quite similar to the model employed to analyze the NBA.  And I have estimated the model for each season back to 2002-03 (it is remarkably stable).

The results of this analysis was also used in my latest for  How the NBA’s Age Limit Helps Colleges But Hurts Players reports how much John Calipari and the University of Kentucky benefit from hiring one-and-done players.  This analysis also employs Wins Produced.  And as one can see, some one-and-done players were very productive.  Of course, some were not.  But regardless, all of these players were worth more to Kentucky than the scholarship they received.

The Kentucky post also noted the productivity of the current Kentucky players.  But the entire list was not presented.   So for those who are interested (and the few people still reading this blog!), here is the productivity of Kentucky’s players after 13 games.


Player Minutes WP40 Wins Produced
Willie Cauley-Stein 312 0.364 2.84
Dakari Johnson 235 0.373 2.19
Karl-Anthony Towns 253 0.344 2.18
Tyler Ulis 219 0.380 2.08
Trey Lyles 264 0.239 1.58
Andrew Harrison 291 0.206 1.50
Marcus Lee 178 0.255 1.14
Devin Booker 227 0.190 1.08
Alex Poythress 162 0.133 0.54
Aaron Harrison 310 0.060 0.47
Derek Willis 52 0.280 0.36
Dominique Hawkins 75 0.064 0.12
Sam Malone 4 0.056 0.01
Tod Lanter 1 0.106 0.00
EJ Floreal 9 -0.059 -0.01
Brian Long 8 -0.119 -0.02


As  you can see, the team’s Wins Produced exceeds 13 wins.  That’s because Kentucky is outscoring their opponent’s by more than 27 points a game.  Yes, this team is unusually good (so far).

I will likely be doing more analysis of individual college teams for future articles I write for and Huffington Post.  When that happens, I will likely comment further in this forum.

– DJ