Friday, March 15, 2013

Studs and Duds: Dropping the "Tuck Rule"

By Jeremy Conlin and Joe Parello

Studs and Duds is a weekly feature on Suite Sports. Who had a good week? Who had a bad week?


The Miami Heat

They had to fight for a win in Philly the other night, and LeBron has occasionally looked in human the past few games, but this team has still won 20 STRAIGHT! Thus, they will remain on my Stud list until they lose a game.

They begin a four game road trip in Milwaukee tonight, and things get interesting when they visit the TD Garden to face the Celtics Monday, but if this streak lasts beyond their March-closing game in San Antonio, it's tough to see the Heat not breaking the record streak of 33 games set by the Lakers in 1971-72.

Of course, that's really looking ahead, but when you've won 20 straight, people start to do that.


That Image at the Top of the Post

Seriously, I looked at that three times before I realized Liam Neeson was there. It is awesome.


The NFL's Competition Committee

The committee just pushed through a proposal that recommends the NFL abandon the infamous "Tuck Rule." The rule in question garnered national attention during the January 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots, then led by first year starter Tom Brady, and the Oakland Raiders.

During the game, Brady appeared to have been sacked and stripped of the football, ensuring victory for the Raiders. But, upon further review, it was ruled that Brady had pump faked and was bringing the ball back into his body. Even though, this obviously was not a pass, the rule on the books says, for some reason, that if a quarterback fumbles in the process of pulling down a pump fake (Tucking the ball), it is still incomplete.

As is par the course for this, and probably all other parallel universes, Tom Brady was the lucky recipient of this madness, as the Patriots kept the ball, and Adam Vinatieri kicked the game winning field goal in snowy Foxboro. The Patriots dynasty began that day.

Now, over a decade later, the NFL seems to finally be on the verge of eliminating this rule that is universally hated (Outside of New England). The committee doesn't make a whole lot of popular decisions, but it will be hard for fans to be anything but excited about this proposed rule change. I mean, come, it's a (Expletive deleted) fumble!!!


Kobe Bryant

It's been awhile since we did our last Studs and Duds - almost a month in fact. Because of that, I feel comfortable including Kobe's performance during that entire stretch. If you start on February 22 (the last time we posted a S&D), Kobe averaged a 36/6/6 on 56%(!) shooting from the floor and 48%(!!!!) shooting from three. There are a number of reasons the Lakers are officially back in the playoff hunt (Utah's continued ineptitude among them), but Kobe's brilliance over the last few weeks certainly tops that list.



Kobe Bryant

We all knew his level of play was unsustainable, and Kobe did, in fact, come crashing back down to Earth (in more ways than one). Over his last three games, Bryant has averaged just 20 points on 35% shooting from the floor (just 28% from three). Then at the end of Monday's game, he landed awkwardly following a potential game-winning jump shot against Atlanta, rolled his ankle, and subsequently posted a picture of aforementioned ankle which looked like there was a grapefruit attached to it. According to the Lakers, Kobe is out "indefinitely," which doesn't really mean anything. That could mean one game, it could mean 15. Knowing Kobe (or - conspiracy theory - the Lakers' propensity to over-exaggerate Kobe's injuries to help support the "Kobe is a Warrior!" narrative), he'll be back sooner rather than later, but I can't imagine he'll be very effective when he does return.


Minnesota Basketball

The Gophers are as maddening as any bubble team in the country. Despite their incredible No. 2 strength of schedule, marquee win over Indiana and solid computer rankings across the board, you get the feeling that Minnesota really could lose to anybody at any time.

The Gophers have now lost three in a row, two of those to conference bottom dwellers Nebraska and Purdue and, after a 15-1 start, have gone just 5-11 down the stretch. What gets you about Minnesota is, you know they're good. They've beaten Indiana, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, but they've also gotten blown out by Purdue and Iowa, with an unforgivable loss to Northwestern.

This shouldn't be happening. This is supposed to be Tubby Smith's best team yet in the Twin Cities, and the experienced front line of Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe was supposed to make the Gophers a consistent force in America's toughest conference.

Clearly, that hasn't happened. Still, does anybody want to see Minnesota in the first round? I wouldn't think so.


The Gambler's Fallacy

With the Heat on their long winning streak, there's been a lot of speculation about when they will lose. One argument that I've heard (more than once) basically boils down to this: they've won 20 games in a row, so they'll probably lose tonight against Milwaukee (or Sunday against Toronto, or...) because they're "due" for a loss.

This is a classic case of the Gambler's Fallacy, plain and simple. The Heat aren't more likely to lose their next game because they've won 20 in a row. They aren't more likely to win their next game, either. Individual basketball games aren't like hands of blackjack, where there's compounding probability based on what just happened. Imagine it this way: if you flipped a coin five times, and it came up tails all five times, would your sixth flip all of a sudden have a 70% chance of landing heads (because you're "due" for a heads)? Of course not. It'd still be 50/50.

The metric Simple Rating System (SRS - based on scoring margin adjusted for strength of schedule) is able to spit out a win probability for each individual game. SRS predicts that Miami will win on the road in Milwaukee 63% of the time. That number doesn't get adjusted downwards just because Miami has won a bunch of games in a row and they're "due" for a loss - if anything, it would get adjusted upwards (because a long winning streak is indicative of sustained good performance).

Can they lose? Of course they can. Just don't say it was because they were "due."


Welker and Brady

We get it, you guys had a total Bro-mance when Welker wasn't dropping critical balls in the Super Bowl/AFC Championship Game. Reports came out that somebody in the Brady camp was "livid," or "irate," or "butthurt," or one of those stupid adjectives, upon hearing that the Pats chose not to re-sign Welker.

Welker has moved on to play with another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Denver's Peyton Manning, but that didn't stop him from blowing Brady air-kisses during his introductory press conference in the Mile High City.

"Yeah, that was definitely probably the hardest part, leaving Tom," Welker said Thursday. "He's a great competitor, a great player, a great friend across the board. I wish the best to him.""Yeah, that was definitely probably the hardest part, leaving Tom," Welker said Thursday. "He's a great competitor, a great player, a great friend across the board. I wish the best to him."

So, moving your family and leaving the city you played in for five seasons, while essentially being told you were too old at the same time was easy… But leaving Tom Brady? That was darn near impossible. Muah, muah, xoxoxo, miss you Tommy!