Bill James Wants To Help You Relax

We've noticed the sabermetric Baseball Prospectus-type guys doing a lot of work in the world of college basketball lately. It seems to fit. There's plenty of statistics to play with, but unlike the NBA, college basketball can still be painted with the same brush of blissful, presumed philosophic "innocence" that people assign to baseball. Makes sense to us: Those are our two favorite sports too.

Anyway, Bill James, Mr. Smiling Don Quixote Baseball Face, writes in Slate today that he has figured out how a lead in college basketball is "safe."

* Take the number of points one team is ahead.

* Subtract three.

* Add a half-point if the team that is ahead has the ball, and subtract a half-point if the other team has the ball. (Numbers less than zero become zero.)

* Square that.

* If the result is greater than the number of seconds left in the game, the lead is safe.

Who said James was just about math? We're not sure we understand this, considering how fluid the definition of the word "safe" is. (We assure you, Wisconsin's lead was "safe" five minutes into the second half yesterday; doesn't the pace of the game and the number of possessions have anything to do with anything? Who said anything about time?) But we're sure Mr. James has enjoyed it while chilling at a bunch of Jayhawks blowouts.

By the way, James is now online! Great! Sweet! Oh ... wait ... subscription only. Nevermind.

The Lead Is Safe [Slate]