Commentary

Two sides of the Wisconsin Badgers

Stats love Jon Leuer and company -- but humans don't seem to. What gives?

Originally Published: February 3, 2011
By John Gasaway | Special to ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesJon Leuer is one of the most effective players in the country off the deep shot.

Advanced metrics have proved to be pretty handy in college basketball. Last year those metrics liked Duke a lot earlier and a lot more than most people did. That worked out well.

By the same token last March the stats shook their collective head and chuckled when New Mexico was given a lofty No. 3 seed by the NCAA tournament selection committee. And, sure enough, that chuckle also turned out to be wise. No doubt about it, these advanced metrics seem like they really know their stuff.

Yes, but then there are the Wisconsin Badgers.

Every year -- seemingly without fail -- the Badgers look absolutely beautiful on paper. Right now Bo Ryan's team is ranked No. 8 in the nation by Ken Pomeroy's rating system. If it's February you can count on every laptop in sight to going wild for the Badgers. And, just as certainly, every human in sight will say, "No! Wait! You don't understand. This is Wisconsin we're talking about. They won't do anything come March." So we find that this very same group of Badgers is ranked down around No. 18 or 19 in the major polls. Who's right?

Allow me to referee this dispute. I happen to think laptops and humans can get along, even when the subject is Wisconsin.