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Who is Jeff Sagarin and Why He Hatin’?

If there’s one thing Jeff Sagarin knows, other than how to properly decorate your office in pictures of Bad Kitty, its rankin’ stuff. After UK’s weekend win over Indiana, Jeff Sagarin ranked the Cats at #16 on his list. Here’s what the entire top 20 looked like:

1. Syracuse
2. Duke
3. Texas
4. Purdue
5. West Virginia
6. Kansas
7. Kansas State
8. New Mexico
9. Georgetown
10. Ole Miss
11. Villanova
12. California
13. Florida
14. Southern Mississippi
15. Ohio State
16. Kentucky
17. Clemson
18. Temple
19. UConn
20. Wisconsin

So, under Sagarin’s rating system, the Cats still have a bit of work to do if they wish to catch the Southern Miss Golden Eagles anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Cats sit at #3 in both the AP and Coach’s Polls. At 16th, although respectable, begs the question who this Jeff Sagarin character is and why he not showin our Cats some ‘spect?

The short story of Jeff Sagarin, via Wikipedia, is that the man is quite qualified. He graduated from MIT (where the girls tell stories of the one time they got a little too drunk and slummed it up with a Harvard guy…eww) in 1970 and has provided USA Today with his ratings system since 1985. He also helps the Dallas Mavericks select their lineups and future free agent selections by using a ratings system he helped develop called Winval.

Although he doesn’t divulge the exact methodology of his Sagarin ranking system, he does allow the public to know that he utilizes two main tools, which I’ll summarize briefly. The first is the Elo system, which uses only wins and losses. Margin of victory or defeat do not matter. The Cats are ranked 2nd under the Elo system with a 10-0 mark, right behind Syracuse because the Orange have more victories against Sagarin’s top 25 and 50 (UConn at 19 and UNC at 22 are UK’s only two top 50 wins). Predictor is the second system and it takes into account the margin of victory but also utilizes the law of diminishing returns which basically makes a 21-7 victory better than a 7-6 victory but a 35-0 victory almost exactly the same as a 70-0 victory (in football terms). This is where the Cats lose ground because of their low margins of victory in a few games.

But perhaps even more telling of exactly why the Cats are so far down Ol’ Sag’s list is this little fact: After graduating from MIT, Sagarin went on to receive his Master of Business Administration at (drumroll)…Indiana University. And even though he is a native New Yorker, he moved to Bloomington in 1977 and, despite the fact that he is knee-deep in bad drivers and wrinkled old craft ladies at the Brown County Fairgrounds, he still calls the place home.

A source close to Sagarin, who wished to remain anonymous, informed me that Jeff’s system takes the wins and the margin of victory a team has against Indiana, doubles that score, makes it negative, subtracts five points for each posterizing dunk committed during the game (thanks a lot John Wall) and then subtracts 25 more points for each celebratory noogie.

So the moral of the story is this: If UK doesn’t get a #1 seed come March, don’t blame the selection committee, blame John Wall’s athleticism, Boogie’s cute “Please Noogie Me” smile, and John Calipari’s lack of emotional restraint.

Article written by Dustin Rumbaugh

I enjoy basketball, Kentucky sports and extremely short walks on the beach, followed by a nap. Sorry ladies, I'm taken.