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This is a show for sports professionals, data junkies, and fans alike. It’s a show for anyone who knows that numbers are about much more than the score. Hosts Ben Shields (MIT Sloan School of Management) and Paul Michelman (MIT Sloan Management Review) engage the world’s premier sports analytics experts in a lively, occasionally controversial, conversation about what’s really happening both on and off the field.
 
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show series
 
In today's NBA, are analytics just a regular season tool? Analytics have a major place in today’s basketball world. At some level, every team relies on data and analytics for roster construction, salary negotiation, and in-game strategy. But the playoffs? They're a different story. In the NBA's second season, is it time to ignore the numbers and le…
 
The explosion of streaming media offers fans unlimited access to sports and entertainment. So how can teams entice their audience to the events happening here and now? Sports Innovation cofounder and CEO Angela Ruggiero says success starts with understanding just how fans’ behavior has changed with the advent of digital technology — meaning, execut…
 
Recent years have seen an explosion in the NFL passing game and emerging analytics demonstrate that teams that throw the ball more win the game more. So does this mean the run no longer matters? That’s not entirely clear. We talked with The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen who has gone deep on analyzing the value of the run in today’s NFL.…
 
Counterpoints takes on two pressing questions in the sports analytics field: the issue of information overload and whether there is such a thing as too much data, and a very different — but related — issue: Biometrics. We’ll go to the mat over whether or not professional athletes will be willing to share their personal biometric data in real time.…
 
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The rag-tag group of underdogs overcomes the more skilled favorite thanks to nothing more than their belief in each other. That popular sports movie cliché may feel unrealistic at times, but when it comes to building a team in real life, the value of cohesiveness and chemistry is increasingly measurable and …
 
In the NBA’s modern era of pace-and-space, small ball, and chucking away from 3, it feels like there’s no more place for the lumbering 7-foot center who used to be the backbone of the league. But the burgeoning field of defensive analytics shows that this "dinosaur" might not be going extinct just yet. Ben speaks with Ivana Saric, data scientist fo…
 
A herd mentality and a lack of good data have led teams to make some poor decisions about trading draft picks. Is there a better way?โดย MIT Sloan Management Review
 
Which teams make it to the college football playoffs isn’t as random as it sometimes seems, says University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Laura Albert. In this week’s Counterpoints podcast, we look at how Albert uses analytics to predict the brackets and how the football playoff selections compare to that other big college tournament, March Madnes…
 
Though lacking in glitz and glamour, the tackle, guard, and center positions make up the backbone of every NFL offense. Without skilled players in those roles — and players who can work as a unit — a team’s entire strategy can fall apart. In the past few years, teams like the Rams, Chiefs, and Saints have used a punishing offensive line to ignite h…
 
eSports has arrived as a major player in the sports world. Games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends have hundreds of millions of players, and the best gamers have fan-bases and endorsement deals right up there with the stars of "real" sports. As eSports grows, so do the analytics surrounding it. But while the nature of eSports means that the amount …
 
When NBA superstars like Steph Curry, Joel Embiid, or Kawhi Leonard are given a planned night off, the impact of their absence isn’t just felt on the floor - it’s a financial issue as well. Whether it’s fans not getting what they believe they paid for, prices on the secondary ticket markets crumbling, or teams dealing with empty seats and depressed…
 
Even as soccer has become a multibillion-dollar business, with superstar transfer fees exceeding nine digits figures in euros, the best clubs can still gain a competitive advantage through their youth academies. Ajax, FC Barcelona, and Manchester United are just a few examples of teams that have consistently developed diamonds in the rough into cha…
 
Almost every team’s fans can point to a signature free agent signing that fell flat. Sometimes the reasons for the players’ underperformance are clear -- injuries for example. But often, it’s harder to pinpoint the cause. In those cases we tend to point to lack of effort as the culprit. This is what researchers call “shirking.” According to Richard…
 
Eddie Robinson at Grambling. Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. It’s hard to underestimate the impact these coaches have had on their organizations. But are coaches always an X factor? Consider the Golden State Warriors. Dominating as they have been under Steve Kerr’s steady guiding hand, they have been every bit as successful …
 
Most Counterpoints listeners are well familiar with the sweeping changes that Moneyball brought to offensive strategy in baseball. Are we now on the cusp of a similarly profound transformation of pitching? Some believe the practice of "out-getting" is just that. Out-getting focuses getting outs as efficiently as possible, irrelevant of who gets the…
 
It is incredibly difficult to judge individual talent in the NFL, because so much of a player's ability to succeed is based on context: his teammates and the system in which he operates. But the need to isolate performance is huge. Those who gain a reliable method will have a huge advantage. So where do you start? You start with the most valuable p…
 
Supporters of the shift believe it's a solid baseball strategy. By overloading defenders to the side of the field where a hitter routinely drives the ball, teams should get outs more easily. When to deploy the shift is a game of numbers. It depends on the likelihood of the batter to hit the ball one direction or the other, given his tendencies and …
 
When the Patriots and the Rams take the field on Sunday, February 3, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for Super Bowl 53, both teams will be there on the backs of several players few expected to become as important as they are — and in spite of several others who failed to meet expectations. Or so Cade Massey would have us believe. Massey is a pr…
 
On the Formula One circuit, tenths and even hundredths of seconds can be the difference between podium glory and being out of a job. Races are won and lost thanks to the skills of the drivers and the strength of the car, it is true. But as the sheer volume of data available to F1 teams increases, another group of individuals have become key contrib…
 
In this week’s episode, we take on a question that could lead to an existential crisis for this very podcast: How much of a difference do analytics actually make? We’d better hope the answer is that analytics make a big difference. The emergence of sports analytics has spawned quite an industry already, and it promises a great deal of growth still …
 
In pairing right-handed defensemen with left-handed defensemen, many NHL teams believe they are following a proven and, seemingly obvious, formula. If defensemen play on their strong side, they will be more effective at their jobs. Conventional wisdom on what works can codify with surprising speed in sports. But when something becomes an accepted b…
 
Does everyone benefit equally from the same amount of sleep? And how exactly does one measure its specific impact on performance — athletic or otherwise? After all, if you’re going to convince a young athlete to give up party time or practice time to grab some extra z’s, you’d better have some serious data to make your case. Kristen Holmes-Winn, vi…
 
It’s easy to understand why winning teams would draw more fans — a great team features exciting players, entertaining competition, and the expectation of feeling satisfied once the game is over. But are those qualities actually tied to wins and losses? Or can any team with the right combination of potential and promotion draw a large audience, rega…
 
Basketball IQ is one of the game’s holy analytical grails. We know it’s there, or at least we think we know it’s there. But what is it even made of? Intuition? Vision? Knowledge of the game? Or is it simply natural intelligence and brain processing speed applied to a specific context? Former director of sports analytics at ESPN Ben Alamar is one of…
 
This is a sports analytics show for sports professionals, data junkies, and fans alike. It’s a show for anyone who knows that numbers are about much more than the score. Hosts Ben Shields (MIT Sloan School of Management) and Paul Michelman (MIT Sloan Management Review) engage the world’s premier sports analytics experts in a lively, occasionally co…
 
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