Final Thoughts on the World Cup

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And, with that, the world’s largest sporting event comes to a close. It was one filled with goals, excitement, drama, basically anything you could want from one month-long tournament. But the month is over, and it will be four more years until the next one. Before we move onto hoping the USA can make an even deeper run next time around, let’s do the final two games justice and talk about them one last time. With that, we present our thoughts on the third-place game and the final.

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Thoughts on the World Cup Semifinals

Luiz Felipe Scolari says he has not been put off managing again in England

The US Men’s National Team may no longer be involved in this year’s edition of the World Cup, but that most certainly does not mean we will be ignoring the rest of what the tournament has in store. In fact, it would be quite foolish to pass on watching the few remaining games in Brazil because a) it will be four long years until the next one and b) if the USA wants to be considered a world power in the sport, these are the teams with whom we will have to compete. With all that said, let’s talk a little about the respective fates of the four semifinalists. Read more of this post

Looking Back on the USMNT: Thoughts on the USMNT against Belgium and into the Future

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Crushing. Exasperating. Frustrating. Slap any adjective you want on the way the USMNT went out; it doesn’t really matter. Sure, the team had their chances, but it doesn’t change the fact that they went out in the Round of 16 (albeit, against a Belgian side that was much stronger than the Ghanians in 2010). To a casual fan, it might seem like the team hasn’t made any real progress, especially when you consider their appearance in the quarterfinals in 2002. But that is certainly not the case. Read more of this post

Thoughts on the World Cup: The Round of 16 and Quarterfinals

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After a rollicking series of 48 group games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we have reached what is often called the “business side” of the tournament. The minnows have been separated from the sharks, and we have a situation where the teams can no longer tie. It’s a situation very similar to the NCAA’s March Madness: win or go home. And in some cases, that plane ride is a long, lonely trip home full of second-guessing. But there’s no second-guessing that the games in the first two rounds of the knockout stage have been full of excitement and high drama, despite there being fewer goals scored. Without further ado, we bring you our thoughts from the rounds of 16 and 8. Our thoughts on the USMNT will be coming in a separate post, now that we’ve had more time to fully digest their result against Belgium. Read more of this post

Surviving a Group of Death: Thoughts from the USMNT’s Escape and the Rest from Thursday

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Soccer is weird. You’ve probably learned this from watching just a few matches of this zany tournament they’re calling “Brazil 2014,” but it rings true today, especially, most certainly. The U.S. has emerged from the Group of Death. Read more of this post

Thoughts on the World Cup: Group Stage Part Three

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Time is running out on the Group stage of World Cup 2014, and our boys are nearing kickoff of their match against the Germans. There will be no predictions here, only things that we’ve learned from the games from Monday through Wednesday. Some of the matches were entertaining; others were played very cautiously. But we should cherish every one we get since this tournament only comes around every four years. On to the important stuff. Read more of this post

Desire to Conspire: Should the U.S. Partner with Germany to Cheat the Group Stage?

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If the United States and Germany tie on Thursday, they both advance to the Round of 16. This is 100% guaranteed, as they would both have 5 points, which is more than the possible 4 points that Ghana or Portugal could have at the end of the day. In a world where advancing is the only thing that mattered, the USA and Germany would likely be conspiring for a tie, whether publicly or behind closed doors. Fortunately for FIFA, the order of those advancing in the group affects placement in the round of 16, so the team in first place gets to face a second place team of another group, a team that is usually weaker than a first place team. Read more of this post

A Bayesian Approach to Draft Rigging

2014 NBA Draft Lottery

It is very unlikely that the NBA draft is rigged in any way. There is just not enough incentive for the NBA to rig the draft (especially for a city like Cleveland) and have it be a viable business strategy. Of course, that doesn’t stop the outcry among NBA fans that the lottery is purposefully rigged. Because of this, I feel that it would be a very interesting approach to use Bayesian inference to express an individual’s personal belief in the draft being rigged.

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Who Knew a Draw Could Sting so Badly? Thoughts on USA-Portugal and the Rest from Sunday’s Games

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Ouch. I won’t bother with dwelling on the final play of last night’s USA game; I think we’ve all seen more than enough of it. But as frustrating as it is, we could be England (or Spain, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc.), going into our final group game with absolutely nothing to play for. It’s the Group of Death. So be it.

Again, we’ll start with the earlier games on Sunday, which were certainly entertaining in their own right. Read more of this post

Thoughts on the World Cup: Group Stage Part Deux

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Now that we’re most of the way through the second round of group games, we hope that we have a little better picture of how the tournament is going to play out. But in such a small sample of games, it’s hard to determine exactly why results are happening the way they are. After seeing Chile beat Spain soundly, maybe the Netherlands’ 5-1 over the reigning world champs was more on Spain than we wanted to admit. And Ghana’s 2-2 draw with Germany certainly caught a lot of people by surprise; while it may be worse for the USA’s chances of advancing from the group, maybe Ghana being better (or Germany being slightly worse) than expected would give us a better shot against some of the stronger teams in this World Cup. Read more of this post

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