Category Archives: philological click-bait

Fine, defensive rebounding does matter


The Alabama student section is clearly excited about what the Tide and Arkansas can teach us about defensive rebounding.

This week while researching a piece on Arizona for Insider, I happened to notice that a) the Wildcats aren’t very good at defensive rebounding, and b) it hasn’t seemed to matter very much. Sean Miller’s team has far and away the best defense in the Pac-12, and possibly even the best D in the country.

This odd juxtaposition of facts led me to fling something reckless out on Twitter (it’s true!):

If only I’d held my fire, so to speak. Soon I was on to different questions entirely, or so I thought, when I came across this:  Continue reading

There are, for now, seven major conferences

James H. Smart helped start the Big Ten, possibly because he was tired of Purdue being called a mid-major.

James H. Smart helped start the Big Ten, possibly because he was tired of Purdue being called a mid-major.

Yesterday at Insider I ranked my top five mid-majors, and in response I heard back from some readers who felt that the hardiest of hoops perennials — what’s a mid-major? — perhaps merits rehashing in this era of wanton realignment. Fair enough. What’s a mid-major?

A mid-major is a team from any conference except the ACC, American, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, or SEC.  Continue reading

An American Stonehenge: Weird university abbreviations on the Great Plains

Adolph Rupp of UK and Phog Allen of KU holding a ball that for some reason says "KU vs KU." It's all so confusing.

Phog Allen of Kansas (KU), Adolph Rupp of Kentucky (UK), and a very confusing ball. Maybe the inscription referred to the fact that Rupp was a KU graduate. Maybe UK used to be called KU. Or maybe it had something to do with Bronze Age pagan rituals and the summer solstice.

At 345 of Division I’s 351 member institutions, the commonly accepted abbreviation of the school’s name preserves the sequence of the words being abbreviated. Take for instance the case of two Big Ten flagship universities in adjoining states that each begin with the letter “I.” “The U of I” denotes the University of Illinois, while “IU,” indubitably enough, refers to Indiana University.

Basically this is a proven system of human discourse, but try telling that to the brazen abbreviation-inverting iconoclasts sprinkled thinly across our nation’s Great Plains. Out there between the Mississippi River and the Rockies, all abbreviation heck breaks loose. Continue reading