Monday, May 09, 2005

One reason I'm taking Florida over Tennessee in the East

2004 record in games decided by one score:

Florida - 1-4
Tennessee - 6-1

I want to be careful about using the "L" word, but one of the best rules for making baseball picks before the season is to find teams that out-performed their record the previous year and pick them to regress to their mean and vice versa. 2002-3 Ohio State was a classic example of this phenomenon. OSU fans bristled mightily at being told that their repeated escapes in 2002 had any element of luck, but sure enough, the following season, they lost both of their close games on the road. Vol fans can bristle all they want, but the bottom line is that they won the East last year with a really bad pass defense, so expecting them to be a top five team this year requires a major leap of faith.

Conversely, aside from Florida's massive coaching upgrade, they were better than 7-5 last year. They were unlucky to lose almost every close game they played in. If that luck evens out, or if bad coaching was the cause, they should be a lot better this year, even assuming that SEC defenses aren't befuddled by Urban's offenses.

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