Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bruce Pearl Before Swine

As I’m sure anybody reading these words must know, Tennessee managed to achieve “fuhreal” status on Saturday, and fritter it away by Tuesday.  It was an impressive about face, as they played like the #1 team in the country at Pittsburgh, then like UC-Irvine at home against Oakland:


A few messages insinuating that the loss showed Bruce Pearl’s true colors flashed across my Twitter feed last night, and it made me wonder if this kind of massive quality swing was really as rare as people were making it out to be.  So I checked.

I found every instance since the 2002-03 season where a team:

  1. Won on the road vs. a top 10 opponent (by Pomeroy rating)
  2. In their next game, lost to a team ranked 50 or lower

I figured that would catch only very impressive wins.  And I couldn’t really make the loss section much more strict, because Oakland is a pretty decent team (#71 as I write this).  With the above criteria, there were 9 cases from the last 8 and a half years.


And, wow.  A third of them are Bruce Pearl’s Tennessee teams.  So for non-Tennessee teams, the chances of it happening any given year are around a quarter of a percent.  For one of Pearl’s Tennessee teams, the chances are around 50%. Apparently there’s something to the idea that his teams are prone to a big letdown after a huge win.  Of course, the fact they even have 3 road wins over top 10 teams is something to be proud of.  I wish I would have kept track of how many teams didn’t lose their next game after a top-10 road win, so I could account for opportunities.  But at this point I’m not going to go back through again.  My eyes are already bleeding.


  1. It'd be interesting to check back and see if there was a similar trend when Pearl coached UW-Milwaukee, maybe relaxing the stats a little to account for Horizon League probably not playing vs. top 10 teams all that often. -adam p.

  2. Hmm, good idea. Though I hate to pile on Pearl at this point.