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A Yale Look At Yale’s Odds vs. Duke Saturday

Minimal doesn’t mean impossible

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NCAA Basketball: Stetson at Duke
Dec 1, 2018; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) dribbles up court as Stetson Hatters guard Keith Matthews (1) defends during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Playing one game at a time is important but fans can look ahead a bit and so we see that Duke’s next opponent, Yale, is a bit more formidable than the traditional Ivy League opponent.

Actually, as we and others have noted, Ivy League basketball has improved a great deal lately which leads to a side question: what happens to the Princeton offense?

It’s still a powerful equalizer but when other teams in the league become good too, does that diminish Princeton’s edge?

Anyway, the good folks at Yale News took what they call a “deep dive” into the numbers to see what kind of chance Yale has in Cameron.

It’s become a solid program and while we appreciate numbers there’s no way to quantify emotion. Take the Duke-Cal matchup in 1995: After Duke beat LSU, Dale Brown, perhaps with a bit of malicious cunning, proclaimed that Cal, led by Jason Kidd, had no chance to win.

Well they played brilliantly and did win and part of it was the emotional response to Brown’s public lack of respect.

There’s no way to code that.

So while Yale says the Elis have a two-percent chance to win this weekend’s game, bear in mind that there’s no way to predict or quantify emotion or, for that matter, a hot streak by a particular guy.

Remember in 2015 when Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 30 points - in the last 4:46 against Miami?

Watch again and remember this is in less than five minutes and he hadn’t even scored in the second half until there was just 4:46 left.

If you had asked if it was possible before hand, no one would have believed it. So just because Yale has a two-percent chance of victory according to a statistical model doesn’t necessarily guarantee Duke a 98% chance of winning.

Remember, Duke hasn’t lost a non-conference game in Cameron since 1999 - but Vermont came within a whisker of doing it, losing 91-90 and having the ball last (if memory serves, the Catamounts didn’t get a shot off in time).

So don’t go counting your chickens just yet.

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