Just the Stats: We’re All MF-ing Starboys

The following statistics are completely true pieces of information. Use them at your own risk. Results may vary. As always, follow @StatTardiff on Twitter for more insights.

The NBA Star Power is at an All-Time High
We’ve documented here before the success that the likes of Anthony Davis (31.76 PER) and Russell Westbrook (30.71) are enjoying in 2016-17, so where do they rank in terms of NBA history? Consider this, when you add in PER monsters Kevin Durant (30.83) and James Harden (29.68)…in the top 26 seasons (in terms of PER) in NBA history, only one season has seen multiple players appear (2008-09; LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Paul). Four players playing this well is unprecedented in the NBA, and when you see headlines of Westbrook and Harden trading triple-doubles, it makes sense.

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College Football’s Best Game Comes Down to the Real Stars – The Refs
Picture this. You’re a referee in a college football game, and in double-overtime, the team trailing by three points gains approximately one yard on 4th-and-1. Problem is, you can’t really tell if it was more or less than one yard. You have two choices:

  1. Award a first down. This keeps the game alive.
  2. Declare the runner short of the first down. This ends the game.

Seems easy enough, right? Now imagine that it’s Michigan and Ohio State, and that most of the 110,045 fans in attendance (wearing scarlet and gray) will call for your head if you choose Option #2. You will have effectively ended their team’s season, given the victory to their biggest rival, and be the guy who made that call.

I’d pick Option #1, too. Turns out we’re not alone. Check out some research on the matter, and you’ll find that this is totally a thing. Keep looking, and you’ll find more of the same.

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Chess has Star Power, Right?
If you thought we didn’t care about the World Chess Championships, think again. (Okay, maybe it’s just me.) After 12 matches and 10 draws, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karkajin are headed to a gauntlet of tiebreaker chess. Four rounds of rapid chess (a real thing), and if necessary, two blitz games (also a real thing), as many as four more rounds of two blitz games, and finally an armageddon-format sudden-death finale (the realest of things). The most to lose? Top-ranked Carlsen, who held win expectancies above 60% in three draws, one more than the ninth-ranked Karkajin. All of what I’m saying is completely real. Tune in for the final day on Wednesday and follow along with FiveThirtyEight’s coverage.

Matt Tardiff is the resident stathead at Chin Music Pod, and his closest moment to stardom was winning the Team MVP for the 7-14 Watertown High School baseball team, posting a 4-5 record as a starting pitcher. His playing days far behind him, he has turned to statistics and can be found on Twitter @StatTardiff.

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