Tuesday, 9 April 2013

University Challenge - Semi Final Preview

Well, we know our four semi finalists now. They are : -
University College, London
New College, Oxford
Manchester University
Bangor University

If you’re looking for clues as to potential finalists we can compare their relative records in the quarters -

UCL beat Bangor 190 - 125beat Manchester 230 - 150 -
New College, Oxfordbeat King’s 165 - 125beat St. George’s , London 160 - 110-
Manchester Universitybeat Imperial 185 - 115lost to UCL 150 - 230beat St. George’s 220 - 135
Bangor Universitylost to UCL 125 - 190beat Imperial College 210 - 120beat King’s College, Cambridge 195 – 70

Something might strike you about this. The very strong team from University College, London has already defeated two of the three other teams to make it through – Manchester and Bangor. Does this mean that they are guaranteed to beat them again? No, it doesn’t. However it will certainly give them confidence if they do meet again. You have to reckon that they will as well. After all I don’t know if UC goes in for seeding at all, but how fair would it be for the two undefeated teams to have to face each other in a semi final?

You have to take New College Oxford seriously. They have won every match they have played in this series. However let’s look at some of the comparative scores. Manchester University outscored St. George’s by a significantly greater margin than New College did, and Bangor defeated King’s by a greater margin than New College did. However. . . New College keep winning. Whoever they play in the semis, they will certainly make a good match of it.

UCL are probably going to hate me for doing this, but I have to plump for them as most likely finalists. As for the other place – well, it is just too close to call. But I shall certainly be keeping my fingers crossed for Adam, Mark, Simon and Nina from Bangor.


Will G said...

I always thought the Semis were seeded, but according to Wikipedia, the line ups are;

UCL vs New
Manchester vs Bangor.

I don't know if this is accurate.

In terms of the merits of each team, I agree that UCL have looked consistently the strongest team, New have (in my opinion) the most impressive player in Tom Capplemann and Manchester seem to go missing at times, but will be dangerous if they bring their 'A' game. I get the feeling Bangor didn't expect to get this far, and this could help them.
I won't make a prediction, but it's worth noting that in the past 3 years, the eventual winners have lost a match earlier in the series.

Jack said...

These are indeed accurate fixtures Will. It seems that the two teams who came straight through the semis without losing have been put together, due to U.C.L. having already beaten Bangor and Manchester. James [Gratrex] speculated this last night, and Adam [Pearce] confirmed it this morning.

Londinius said...

Thanka for this guys.Hmm - not sure how I feel about this. Part of me feels that you ought to get some reward for being unbeaten throughout the quarters. On the other hand I do understand that a) the producers maybe don't want a semi final that is a replay of a quarter final (but that was always going to be a possibility after they changed the quarter final from a straight knockout format) and b) if you want to win the seris you have to be prepared to play and beat anybody else. I don't know how the New College team feel about it, but I could understand if they're not over the moon, though.

BoiCymraeg said...

I don't have much sympathy for New College, partially because the idea that they "should" be allowed to face Manchester or Bangor is predicated on the assumption that we would be easier to beat, and that being allowed to play us would be a "reward". As said "reward" myself, it seems a bit insulting! Perhaps I'd feel differently if I were in New College's place.

Is there any evidence that seeding is in place in any other part of the competition? It doesn't seem particularly so to me. We were told it was usually random.

Let's remember, it's a TV show - I can understand that they'd put the desire to avoid a repeat fixture over other considerations.

HughTube said...

I agree with you David. I would have thought keeping what are on paper the two best teams apart so that they meet in the final would have priority over avoiding a repeat at this stage, especially as it's fairly likely there will be a repeat anyway (UCL being favourites against New College). That said I think Manchester are probably stronger than New College, and Bangor are pretty good also.

Re seedings, I think there is normally a degree of it but it's been hard to tell this year. In the series I was on ('10-'11) they seemed to keep all the high-scoring teams from the first round apart for the second round. It's harder to tell this year as there haven't been as many high scores (I think the first round questions were a little too hard on average), but it seems to have happened a bit. It makes sense for the second round and the semi-finals.

Jack said...

I'm glad you posted that Hugh, as it brings up another point: what if Oxford Brookes had beaten York in their QF a couple of years ago (which they so nearly did)? I suspect if they'd done so, then Hugh, Tris and co from Sheffield would've played Peterhouse in the semis, and Oxford Brookes would play Magdalen, as both had lost to Sheffield in the QFs.

Which is, by and large, what seems to have happened here. As I said yesterday, I reckon that, had James and co won on Monday night, they'd have played U.C.L., and New College Manchester.

I understand what the producers are getting at here, in trying to avoid a rematch prior to the final. However, the fact that the only Paxo era rematch (so far) came in the QFs, a stage where it could easily have been drawn differently, raises questions about why that one wasn't avoided as well.

(I may well continue this in an article over on JOW later)

jim360 said...

Based on overall series performance Manchester are apparently stronger than New College so with that borne in mind it's natural to try and separate the two. I don't feel particularly sorry for New College either but even so am surprised at the draw. Was expecting things to be the other way round, but at this this way we will get to enjoy a match between this series' two top teams.

Londinius said...

Firstly - apologies Adam - that use of the word reward was unfortunate, and no insult was intended. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say or imply that you or Manchester are weaker than New College, and I hope that this came through in the main text of my post.

I think what I was trying to get at was that I kind of expected that a similar thing would happen as happens in team competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, where by the winning team from group A would play the Runner up team from Group B , and the group B winner would play the runner up team from group A

BoiCymraeg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BoiCymraeg said...

Oh, don't worry, I wasn't offended!

I understand how seeding works and why it's used. It's just not clear what the rules for it in UC are, if there are any at all. Obviously they've decided to ignore it in this case. Bear in mind that with this arrangement they risk 1 possible rematch (if both UCL and Manchester win). Had, say, UCL been drawn against us again, it would have guaranteed 1 rematch and risked 1 more should UCL and Manchester have both won. So I see exactly why they did it and think it was a good thing (apart from anything else it's boring for UCL to have to face the same people each time).

As James points out, Manchester are arguably a better team New College anyway. One could also point out that Bangor did better in the 2 quarter finals that they won than New College did in the 2 quarter finals they won - but then this would be statistical cherry-picking of course!

I guess it would be "fairer" from New College's perspective to be drawn against us or Manchester, but what's "fair" is a pretty subjective notion. You could say it's unfair to expect us to face UCL in the knowledge they've beaten us before, or that it's unfair to expect UCL to have to beat us having already done so. I think the producers are right to avoid rematches as much as possible (if they'd drawn us against UCL, the latter would have had to play the same match twice in a row!).