Friday, December 9, 2011

Playing the prediction game

It looks like we've got Richmond figured out, and we never miss on Longwood.

But Virginia Tech? Seems like we don't have a clue.

We'll keep making predicting their games, though. Everyone else's games, too. Trying to pick the winners, score and all, has become one of the most fun things we do.

Now, we don't take these picks - or ourselves, for that matter - too seriously. No advanced metrics or serious numbers-crunching. We just study each matchup for a bit, then go with a gut feeling. So far it seems to be working - out of the 90 games involving state teams this season, our gut has been right 70 times.

Our start was an inauspicious one. For our very first pick on the very first day of the regular season, we thought Old Dominion would christen the Karen Barefoot Era with a 10-point home victory over Virginia Tech. Instead, the Hokies christened the Dennis Wolff Era with a 12-point road victory over ODU.

But recently, we've hit our stride. From Nov. 27 through Saturday, we hit on 17 consecutive correct picks over the six-day span and came within one game of a perfect week (who knew JMU would lose at Towson?).

Probably our favorite pick came on Thanksgiving Day, when we played a hunch that winless Old Dominion would find a way to get it done against Alabama in the Virgin Islands' Paradise Jam Tournament. Becca Allison saved us, er, the Lady Monarchs, by draining a jumper at the buzzer for a one-point victory. Just like we predicted, right:?

The one that still has us scratching our head came two days later, when George Washington Hall of Famer Tajama Abraham took her undefeated Radford team to play her old school. We just knew the Highlanders would be fired up to make their coach look good and deliver a prime-time performance. Instead, they fell behind 23-0 and went on to get blown out by 24.

But that's the only Radford game we've missed on. We also have just one loss picking games involving Hampton and Liberty, and were perfect with Longwood and Richmond. For some reason, though, we can't quite figure out those Hokies, who we've swung and missed on four times. That's twice as many losses as we have with any other school.

That's just one of the reasons we have no plans to start playing our hunches in Vegas any time soon. Otherwise, we're really getting a kick out of trying to figure out which way these games are going to go. It's a great way to focus in on each game. And fans seem to enjoy knowing where we stand (or think we stand).

So we'll keep making the picks. And who knows? Eventually, we may even start getting a few Tech games right.

For a game-by-game look at our predictions and the actual results, check out our prediction archive.

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