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February 12, 2024

Blog: Resetting the field at the midway point (previewing the 2023–24 girls basketball semi-states)

The regional round is complete, the Tournament Simulations (LIVE) page has been updated, and we're into the last two weeks of the state tournament. This is the second year with the one-game regional, two-game semi-state format, and while I have some annoyances about the process, I really do like the pacing of the new format.

With the semi-state draw now complete and teams looking ahead to Saturday, some thoughts on matchups and top contenders below. Again, rankings as presented are based on the latest TWISTR ratings in each class.

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January 28, 2024

Blog: We're going to the end of the line (previewing the 2023–24 girls basketball state tournament)

With the exception of three games scheduled for Monday night, the girls basketball regular season has come to a close. Last week, I introduced Tournament Simulations to TWISTR, and those figures were updated earlier today. I may or may not have a "live" version of the simulations available as the tournament progresses, but the linked page will remain "static" to look back on.

Before the tournament gets underway Tuesday, I wanted to throw together a little (ok, kinda long) preview based on how TWISTR sees the draw. Like with other blog posts, rankings reflect (1) a team's TWISTR rank as of January 28 and (2) the rank within that team's enrollment classification. Best of luck to everyone's favored teams this week and throughout February!

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January 22, 2024

Blog: Adding tournament simulations to TWISTR (and sharing some thoughts on the girls basketball draw)

Every year around this time, I'm reminded a little of Whose Line Is It Anyway? — you know, the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter? In Indiana, teams play a three-month season and, at the end of it … none of it really matters. Because we cling to a random draw for our state tournament format, there's no real benefit gained from having a strong regular season, nor punishment for underperforming. It's poetic in some sense, frustrating in others, but it's how we do it.

If you're interested in diving into the draw a little bit yourself, I introduced a new page to the TWISTR site, titled Tournament Simulations. They're called simulations and not probabilities, as they're really the result of 10,000 Monte Carlo model runs, but they should provide an overall guide to many of the contenders in this year's tournament. I'm not gonna dive too deep into the methodology here, but I do want to pass along some thoughts of my own on the tournament draw.

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December 31, 2023

Blog: Bringing responsible recency bias to fall and spring sports (previewing some updates for 2024)

Happy New Year! The holidays can mean a lot of different things to different people, and for me, it often means a bit of downtime at the end of the year. For the 2023 holiday season, that turned into finally getting around to an item on my to-do list: making some enhancements to the TWISTR ratings for soccer, volleyball, baseball and softball.

If you've been checking the TWISTR ratings since I first published them in early 2023, you may have noticed that the basketball ratings (and later football ones) contained additional information and features the other sports lacked. Some of those features were missing for a good reason (a SCORING metric wouldn't make sense in volleyball, for example, where every winning team scores 2 or 3 set wins), but the lack of the INDEPENDENT (INDY) and FORECASTER (CASTER) ratings really weren't. They were simply missing because the fall and spring sports utilized a different ratings code base from basketball's.

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November 26, 2023

Blog: Some thoughts on small samples and connectivity (introducing football ratings to TWISTR)

On Thanksgiving Day, helped by a little bit of rare free time, I clicked "publish" on IHSAA football ratings for the very first time. Given the next two days marked the end of the 2023 IHSAA football season, I concede it's kind of a useless time to publish the initial ratings. The delay is for a good reason, though — it's really hard to model football, especially at the high school level.

When we build computer ratings for high school basketball or other sports, we're banking primarily on two factors coming through for us:

  1. Large sample sizes to reliably identify how strong each individual team is
  2. Connectivity between teams to reliably compare groups of teams that don't play each other

Football … really provides us with neither of these.

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September 20, 2023

Blog: Trying to make lemonade out of oranges (assorted musings on volleyball ratings)

There's always thoughts rattling around in my head, and now being fairly deep into the fall season, it feels like a good time to introduce the TWISTR blog. There won't be a standard update cadence or anything to these, just more of a place for me to share some thoughts related to the ratings as they happen.

I've been thinking a lot about the TWISTR volleyball ratings recently, the heels of yeserday's Hamilton Southeastern–Roncalli contest feels as good a time as any.

When I was initially developing the TWISTR ratings algorithm, I struggled for a while to figure out a good way to integrate volleyball. Not only is volleyball fundamentally scored differently from other sports, but the scoring information that is available is less consistent and less useful than in other sports.

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