Predicting by the numbers

By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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It’s time again to try predicting how the local basketball teams will fare in this year’s race for a league crown. I am not one to simply try and pull a rabbit out of the hat so I resorted to spreadsheets and meaningless numbers for a more “mathematical” approach.

Because of all the time spent crunching numbers, I have limited this forecast to boys basketball. My formula includes the preseason so the numbers could certainly change as the season progresses.

We’ll start with Lincoln’s quest for the Pioneer Valley League title. According to my calculations, the Fighting Zebras will finish dead last. OK, OK, obviously I’m dead wrong but the numbers are what they are.

I base my predictions on what happened last year, the number of seniors who have come and gone, and how the teams are doing so far this season. I’ve left out such significant details as to coaching changes, transfers, a senior’s actual contribution to the team’s success (or lack thereof) and the impact a number of underclassmen might have or had on a particular school’s campaign.

Also missing is strength of schedule this preseason. That’s hard to discern this early in the year since teams are still developing.

For instance, in the Sierra Foothill League I have Rocklin coming in fourth behind Del Oro, Granite Bay and Nevada Union. The difference between the Thunder and No. 2 Grizzlies was just a little over one point.

Again, Rocklin 2012-13 is nothing like last year’s team. The Thunder has a new coach who cut his basketball teeth in the SFL and he bleeds silver and blue. And, if you remove this year’s Foundation Game loss (which technically was a scrimmage and not a game), Rocklin jumps to No. 2 trailing the Golden Eagles by less than a tenth of a point; so much for arithmetic.

When my formula was applied to the Capital Athletic League, Whitney came out in fifth place. Of course, Antelope was No. 1 but what were missing were the latest rosters for a number of the teams and how many seniors were on each one.

However, the Titans will be difficult to unseat as they potentially return their two top scorers but graduation did take a toll on the scarlet and gray.

My gut feelings about all this differ considerably from my mathematics.

I think Lincoln could well challenge for the PVL championship. Losing their scoring leader from last year was a blow but this is coach Robert Ash’s first full season at the Zebras’ helm. Something tells me Coach Ash is destined for success at Lincoln.

That also goes for Rocklin’s Casey Cutts. The game between the two coaches last week was a good indicator of what these two bring to the high school game. Had it not been for the Thunder’s Devin Moss catching fire that game would have gone down to the wire.

Whitney coach Matthew Rickabaugh is also in the process of gaining his stride with the Wildcats. His top scorer has also departed but don’t count out the ‘Cats.

I never was much good at math.