‘Any Given Sunday’ Concept Works…In 344-Team College Basketball

We’ve all been there before.

It’s the classic dinner table dispute over the quality of any two given sports teams. For me, the dispute always arises with one of my best friends from Pittsburgh.

The matchup?  A die-hard Pitt Panther versus a Penn Stater who bleeds Blue and White.

college-basketball

A visual representation of Penn Stater Derek's arguments with his Pitt Panther friend.

The result?  A conversation that usually ends up looking a little something like this:

  • Me:  “Penn State could crush Pitt this year, Pitt looked terrible against Wagner.”
  • Him: “Stop it, Penn State is an embarrassment to the Big 10.”
  • Me:  “Oh really?  Well we beat South Florida this year, who beat Pitt TWICE!”
  • Him: “You want to play that game? Pitt took care of business against Duquense, something I believe Penn State didn’t do.”

A game indeed.  And a game that most of us have probably played our entire lives.  Well we beat Team X who beat Team Y who crushed Team Z, so theoretically we should handle Team Z with ease.

And it makes sense, right?

In mathematical terms it is called the transitive property.  You know, that property we are all brainwashed with in 6th grade?  If a>b and b>c, then we can conclude that a>c.

Logical enough….  except when it isn’t.  Extrapolation of the property can be dangerous.

College Basketball’s Transitive Madness

Take college basketball, for instance.  Haven’t you wondered why March Madness is always Madness?  Why isn’t there ever a year when the favorites simply win?

This NFL season, I stumbled upon a graphic here at MSF (see it here) the week after the Chiefs knocked off the Packers.  It was entitled, “Any Given Sunday” and it demonstrated how every team in the NFL could be linked circularly by having beaten another NFL team until we got back to the first team. Example: The Cowboys beat the Redskins who beat the Giants, who beat the….you get the picture.

It was an intriguing graphic, and it seemed to show, in a sense, why you had to bring your “A game” each and every Sunday.

Then I had a crazy thought.

What if the same could be done for college basketball?  We’re not just talking 32 teams here, like in the NFL; we’re talking about 344.  Yes. THREE HUNDRED and FOURTY FOUR.  Was it even possible?  My heart said yes, my brain said no.

There was only one way to find out.  So I tried.

And what did I find?  Well naturally, it…worked.

That’s right.  After nearly three and half weeks of mind-numbing and exhaustive data collecting, the pieces fell into place.

Of course, I started with Penn State.  I had to prove that my favorite team was indeed the best in the land…

pat-chambers

Could there possibly be transitive proof that Pat Chambers and Penn State are the best team in the land?

…at least until I connected the cycle.

You can find my extensive results listed below.  This should go to prove that any table-talk of “this team beat that team so therefore this team is better than that team” is simply fallacious.

One can read the table below as follows:

  • Begin with Penn State.
  • Penn State beat Illinois, 57-54. (Score listed to the right of Illinois).
  • Illinois beat Ohio State by 5…
  • Who beat Duke…
  • Who beat North Carolina…
  • Who beat Michigan State….

You get the idea.

You can use this table to theoretically prove that any team in the nation is better than any other team in the nation!

Even, lowly Navy.

With that being said, enjoy the results posted below.  I hope you find them to be as mind-boggling as I do.

Enjoy the Madness of March!

Any Given Sunday…or Big Monday…or Super Tuesday…

TEAM SCORE
Penn State
Illinois 54 52
Ohio State 79 74
Duke 85 63
North Carolina 85 84
Michigan State 67 55
Lehigh 90 81
Bucknell 56 53
Holy Cross 75 41
Lafayette 70 63
Army 90 74
Colgate 79 59
Navy 69 63
Mount St. Marys 64 56
American 49 42
St. Joes 66 60
Drexel 62 49
Virginia Commenwealth 64 58
Hofstra 80 63
Cleveland State 63 53
Vanderbilt 71 58
LSU 76 61
Marquette 67 59
Connecticut 79 64
Notre Dame 67 53
Syracuse 67 58
Georgetown 64 61
South Florida 75 45
DePaul 75 59
Pittsburgh 84 81
Providence 86 74
Louisville 90 59
Seton Hall 60 51
West Virginia 67 48
Cincinnati 77 74
Villanova 82 78
St. John’s 79 76
St. Francis (NY) 63 48
Bryant University 80 67
St. Francis (PA) 59 56
Fairleigh Dickinson 69 63
St. Peter’s 73 62
Canisius 74 60
Marist 67 57
Loyola Maryland 72 54
Iona 87 81
Rider 75 62
Manhattan 88 77
Fairfield 53 51
Niagara 77 69
Siena 58 54
Princeton 63 59
Harvard 70 62
Pennsylvania 56 50
Cornell 54 52
Yale 85 84
Columbia 59 58
Dartmouth 64 62
Brown 58 53
Rhode Island 65 56
Massachusetts 81 78
Fordham 80 76
George Washington 63 58
Charlotte 60 52
Richmond 75 70
LaSalle 78 76
Duquense 71 68
St. Bonaventure 66 52
Dayton 81 73
Temple 87 77
St. Louis 72 67
Xavier 73 68
Southern Illinois 87 77
Bradley 77 60
Indiana State 68 60
Evansville 90 81
Creighton 65 57
Wichita State 68 61
Missouri State 74 67
Northern Iowa 61 60
Drake 66 52
Illinois State 77 60
Rutgers 76 70
Florida 85 83
Alabama 61 52
Arkansas 72 66
Mississippi State 98 88
Tennessee 62 58
Auburn 64 49
Ole Miss 69 68
South Carolina 66 62
Georgia 57 56
South Dakota State 72 61
Oral Roberts 75 60
Oakland 93 86
Western Illinois 74 70
North Dakota State 55 51
Southern Utah 72 69
IUPUI 72 64
South Dakota 88 70
UMKC 76 57
IPFW 81 66
Valparaiso 85 76
Loyola Illinois 66 62
Illinois Chicago 78 69
Youngstown State 72 68
Green Bay 77 47
Wright State 57 56
Milwaukee 70 46
Detroit 84 74
Butler 76 65
Stanford 71 66
USC 51 43
Utah 62 45
Arizona State 64 43
Oregon State 76 66
UCLA 87 84
Washington State 63 60
California 77 75
Washington 69 66
Arizona 79 70
Colorado 71 57
Air Force 76 73
Boise State 74 59
TCU 65 64
Wyoming 58 52
UNLV 68 66
Colorado State 82 63
New Mexico 71 63
San Diego State 77 67
Long Beach State 77 73
Cal State Fullerton 75 61
UC Santa Barbara 99 86
UC Riverside 60 52
UC Davis 59 54
Pacific 73 64
Cal State Northridge 62 61
Cal Poly 94 81
UC Irvine 77 74
San Diego 99 79
Loyola Marymount 60 57
Saint Mary’s 75 60
Gonzaga 83 62
BYU 74 63
San Francisco 81 56
Pepperdine 78 63
Portland 70 65
Santa Clara 84 78
Eastern Michigan 75 55
Ohio 68 55
Kent State 87 65
Buffalo 76 71
Akron 82 70
Bowling Green 79 68
Ball State 61 54
Western Michigan 78 69
Central Michigan 64 61
Toledo 85 69
Northern Illinois 71 41
Miami (OH) 62 59
Belmont 66 61
Mercer 82 78
USC Upstate 73 66
North Florida 77 52
Florida Gulf Coast 88 81
East Tennessee State 72 63
Lipscomb 66 57
Stetson 99 91
Kennesaw State 75 59
Chattanooga 65 59
Western Carolina 78 62
Citadel 68 56
Appalachian State 62 51
ELON 81 66
UNC Greensboro 93 79
College of Charleston 73 66
Georgia Southern 58 53
Wofford 63 49
Furman 79 72
Western Kentucky 76 63
Florida Atlantic 64 57
Troy 88 67
Louisiana Monroe 91 63
Florida International 54 50
South Alabama 65 62
Arkansas State 74 57
North Texas 75 72
Arkansas Little Rock 75 67
Louisiana Lafayette 72 70
Denver 72 71
Middle Tennessee State 75 60
Austin Peay 80 71
Tennessee State 69 63
Murray State 72 68
Tennessee Tech 82 74
Morehead State 66 55
Eastern Kentucky 57 54
Southeast Missouri State 63 59
Jacksonville State 74 56
Eastern Illinois 63 45
SIU- Edwardsville 73 66
Tennessee Martin 69 65
UAB 59 54
Tulane 81 73
Southern Methodist 80 74
Tulsa 57 55
Houston 72 48
East Carolina 82 76
Marshall 69 68
UCF 65 64
UTEP 63 45
Memphis 60 58
Southern Miss 60 58
New Mexico State 80 72
San Jose State 79 63
Fresno State 79 71
Utah State 60 54
Louisiana Tech 69 55
Hawaii 74 70
Idaho 76 70
Nevada 72 68
Montana 70 64
Northern Arizona 78 60
Sacramento State 73 64
Northern Colorado 73 62
Eastern Washington 71 70
Montana State 69 52
Idaho State 73 69
Weber State 64 62
Portland State 88 81
Seattle 66 65
Longwood 100 99
Virginia Military 110 89
UMBC 84 79
Towson 62 58
UNC Wilmington 66 61
William and Mary 68 66
James Madison 68 61
Hampton 74 67
High Point 68 64
Radford 71 62
Delaware 58 54
George Mason 65 60
Albany 66 46
Hartford 72 60
Maine 63 49
New Hampshire 80 69
Boston University 56 54
Stony Brook 61 55
Binghamton 82 48
Vermont 57 53
Old Dominion 65 63
Northeastern 69 57
Georgia State 60 57
Utah Valley 71 68
Texas Pan American 77 69
Cal State Bakersfield 73 67
NJIT 72 70
North Dakota 72 57
Chicago State 75 69
Houston Baptist 65 56
Bethune-Cookman 76 74
South Carolina State 70 59
Gardner-Webb 73 68
Campbell 78 72
Iowa 77 61
Wisconsin 72 65
Purdue 67 62
Michigan 75 61
Minnesota 61 56
Northwestern 75 52
Mississippi Valley State 92 67
Grambling State 79 60
Alabama A&M 75 72
Alcorn State 81 71
Arkansas Pine-Bluff 66 58
Southern University 64 58
Texas Southern 56 54
Alabama State 67 59
Jackson State 49 46
Prairie View A&M 62 48
Stephen F. Austin 53 50
UTSA 59 51
Texas-Arlington 97 88
Sam Houston State 75 63
Texas A&M Corpus Christi 61 53
Texas State 74 68
Central Arkansas 94 63
Southeastern Louisiana 64 63
Northwestern State 66 61
Nicholls State 92 61
McNeese State 78 75
Lamar 57 54
Rice 87 81
University Maryland-Eastern Shore 81 49
Howard 78 65
Coppin State 70 66
Norfolk State 87 82
LIU Brooklyn 73 62
Sacred Heart 103 91
Quinnipiac 78 75
Robert Morris 73 69
Monmouth 81 73
Central Connecticut State 68 60
Wagner 78 61
Delaware State 85 62
North Carolina Central 76 60
Florida A&M 78 61
North Carolina A&T 87 77
Morgan State 62 61
Liberty 81 69
Charleston Southern 75 74
UNC- Asheville 93 88
Presbyterian 66 58
Winthrop 48 45
Coastal Carolina 67 57
Clemson 60 59
Wake Forest 71 60
Boston College 71 56
Florida State 64 60
North Carolina State 76 62
Miami (FL) 77 73
Maryland 90 86
Georgia Tech 61 50
Savannah State 65 45
Jacksonville 73 70
Samford 70 57
Davidson 77 74
Kansas 80 74
Texas 69 66
Texas Tech 74 57
Oklahoma 65 47
Texas A&M 65 62
Oklahoma State 76 61
Missouri 79 72
Iowa State 76 69
Baylor 80 72
Kansas State 75 73
Virginia Tech 69 61
Virginia 47 45
Oregon 67 54
Nebraska 83 76
Indiana 70 69
Kentucky 73 72
Penn State 85 47

 

pat-chambers-loss

So close...but yet so far.

 

And ah yes, I almost forgot.  If you are “one of those” people who like to throw scores around, I must set you straight too.  You know who you are.  The people who say, well Central Michigan beat Toledo by 16, who beat Northern Illinois by 30, who beat Miami (OH) by 3, who then beat Belmont by 5.  Therefore, Central Michigan could beat Belmont by at least 50!

Not. So. Fast.

By calculating the margin of victory from every team in my list, who Penn State theoretically would have beaten, one could come to the conclusion that Penn State should easily beat Kentucky by:  wait for it…approximately 3,151 points.

But wait.  I almost forgot.  Kentucky and Penn State did play.  Final score?  85-47.

In favor of Kentucky,  naturally.

*****

Before I go:  a special shoutout goes to:

  • Davidson for your big W on the road against Kansas.  That was clutch.
  • American, thanks for the win over St. Joes.  Needed that.
  • Rutgers, great upset of Florida.  Appreciate it.
  • Although I already mentioned it, Miami (OH) over Belmont was huge.
  • Binghamton, your absolute stunner over Vermont saved my entire spreadsheet.
  • And last but not least, Houston Baptist.  Your early season victory over Bethune-Cookman could not have been a more beautiful sight to my then-glazed-over eyes.


Comments

  1. Mwgerberich says:

    This is totally amazing!  Who would spend so much time working on something like this?  No wonder every bubble team this week can make their own case, much like watching the mid majors VCU – Drexel; St. Mary’s – Gonzaga last night.  Very cool.  I look forward to seeing more of your work!

  2. This is nice work, but Texas isn’t on your list. It would easily fit between Kansas and Texas Tech (Kansas beat Texas 69-66, Texas beat Texas Tech 74-57). Also, I exported your list to excel (nerd alert) and there are only 343 teams on your list (since Penn State is on there twice). 

  3. Derek Gerberich says:

    Great find, I’ll update that shortly. Texas makes it 344.

  4. I find this truly amazing.

    There is actually another Penn State basketball fan out there. 

  5. Awesome Derek!  I am so proud of you and your research.  You can be the poster child for the math department.  Great work!  Keep it up.

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