Archive for February 4, 2009

Michael Phelps Can Get Real Stoned

February 4, 2009 Comments off

Hat tip to Eben, who clued me in to this Slate Explainer article:

…fans are wondering whether Phelps’ abnormally large lung capacity means he can take monster bong rips. Can he?

He can. Total lung capacity refers to the volume of air contained in the lungs at the point of “maximal” inspiration—i.e., the biggest breath you can take. It’s measured in liters. The greater a smoker’s total lung capacity, the more he can inhale from a given joint, bowl, or bong. According to some estimates, Phelps’ lung capacity is twice that of the average human, or 12 liters rather than six. So if he puts his mind to it, he can take a hit that’s twice as big as that of the next partygoer.

Categories: funny, Olympics, player issues

Top Ten Conferences’ RPI as of Feb 04 – A Look at Median RPI

February 4, 2009 1 comment

The median measure of numbers gives a truer understanding of the average; it’s less skewed by spectacularly good or spectacularly bad results. And so, while skimming work and thinking about cookies, I put together a spreadsheet and chart on how top heavy some conferences are.

I was thinking about the disparity between the better teams in the Big East and the lower level teams and expanded to the top ten leagues by RPI. Are they all this top heavy? The top of the league has great teams (though how Georgetown’s RPI is 19 is curious to me). Some conferences have a couple of really good teams at top, and some dogs at the bottom.

So I played with some numbers and created some measures to look at disparity within the conference; not just the difference between #1 and the rear, but the difference between the top half of the league and the bottom half. Obviously, leagues like Conference USA and the Atlantic 10 have a single monster team and a bunch of middle-pack, hoping-to-get-to-the-dance squads. These measures are better for conferences with more top teams.

Original spreadsheet here.

So far this year, the basketball conferences with weak sisters at the bottom are Conference USA and the Atlantic 10. Though of the “Power Conferences” or the “BCS Conferences,” the Big East has the weakest bottom half, with a median RPI of 119; the next closest is the SEC at 110, who also have a low top-half RPI – their conference is more even. The Big Ten’s bottom half is the strongest of these ten leagues.

And apparently, the ACC is better than the Big East.

RPI Top Half
RPI Bottom Half
Big East
Big Ten
Big 12
Pac 10
Mountain West
Missouri Valley

I used the difference between the conference’s median RPI and average RPI (median – average, as of 02/04/09, taken from to measure what kind of effect the lower-level teams have on the league’s overall ranking. In all cases the median number was higher – lower ranked teams bring down the average. Conversely, higher ranked teams bring up the median. You can use this measure to either say “the ACC is really tough this year – Georgia Tech is the poorest team by RPI, but they’re not the easy out DePaul is!”, or you can say, “maybe Memphis isn’t that good, they get to slap around the Southern Methodists of the world!”

It’s your call.

Click on image below for larger version.

top heavy conferences