Competing Against the Poll - Rules of the Game

One thing I’ve always enjoyed with sports (in particular, college basketball) is being ahead of the curve on team opinions – for example, identifying a promising, undervalued team before a string of big wins (like Notre Dame last year), or seeing through a highly-ranked team’s fraudulent play (like Seton Hall in the middle of the year). More than just calling these teams out in posts throughout the year, though, I wanted to find a way to actually quantify how my opinions rated compared to the general sheep opinion of the masses. The most commonly accepted measuring tool for this public opinion is the AP poll; thus, I give you: Competing Against the Poll!

The idea is fairly simple: the AP poll rates teams 1-25 with an “others receiving votes” section, releasing total voting points received for every team that gets at least one. For example, UNC is #1 in the preseason AP poll with 1,566 points; Michigan is 25th with 126 points; and Xavier is an “other receiving votes” with 12 points. I will treat these values as “market prices” for these teams, starting with an allotted budget of points with which to purchase teams. From there, team “values” will go up or down depending on how they perform (how many votes they get), and stocks/teams will either earn points with strong play or lose points as they lose games. So if I bought Xavier at 12 points and they had a huge non-conference win that vaulted them into the top-25 with 150 points, I would have earned 150-12=138 points. The goal is to end the year with as many points as possible, meaning we effectively predicted when teams would outplay the polls’ assessments of them.

Also, as that really only reflects when a team does well, I’m also including a “sell” feature wherein I obtain a team for their point value (say, #9 Gonzaga at 1,047), only I’m expecting that team to underperform. In this case, I would “earn” points when Gonzaga falls in the poll and “lose” points when they move up. So if I chose to sell Gonzaga at 1,047, and they moved up to #7 with 1,200 points, I would have lost 153 points.

To make it a little more interesting, the three of us here at are going to all compete against each other for pride (and maybe some other side bets). In discussing this game with my fellow three-man-weavers, we decided on these rules:

1.      Each guy will have a long-term portfolio of 4 teams, as well as 1 week-to-week “buy” and 1 “sell”
2.      Of the 4 long-term teams, no more than 3 can be “buys,” and no more than 3 can be “sells” – must have at least 1 of each
3.      3,000-point budget to start the year – to purchase the 4 long-term portfolio teams
4.      Teams in the long-term portfolio can be held for as short or long a time as the owner prefers – for example, can sell quick for profit, or can hold a team long term for further increases in value
5.      One team in the long-term portfolio must be ranked in the top-10 – this is to prevent from just having 4 long-shot “other” teams – have an opinion on a bigtime squad!
6.      Unused point balances will sit in the bank with no change in value
7.      The week-to-week picks can be any team (no budget) – all that matters for them is the one-week increase or decrease

My goal is to post updates each Sunday night during the season with each guy’s current portfolio picks and total point value. That way, I can rip on Matt and/or Ky as their terrible opinions crash and burn. We’ll see how the year is going and tweak rules as needed.

Without further ado, here are our preseason selections: