Tuesday, 22 December 2009

University Challenge - Review of Round Two - Quarter Final Preview

University Challenge Review of Round Two – Quarter Final Preview

Lets start with the results of the repechage round, and round two : -

Repechage round

UCL 220/345
Emmanuel, Cambridge 280/385

Second round

Girton, Cambridge 170/330
St. Andrews 185/295
St. John’s, Oxford 220/410
Emmanuel, Cambridge 260/445
Imperial, London 280/360
Jesus , Oxford 220/390
Edinburgh 170/320
Manchester 210/300

OK, now, based on these results, and those from the first round, I’ve drawn up a table. For each of the two rounds I’ve shown how many points each of the winning teams scored, and what percentage of the total points scored by both teams they scored. Then I’ve made an aggregate of scores, and % of total points scored from both rounds. So if we take total points scored in the first and second round matches as the basis for positions, then the table looks like this : -

Round 1 score---
% of points--- Round 2 score--- % points---Aggregate---% aggregate
St. John’s 270 752205449065
St. Andrews255 631856344063

Which is all very nice reading especially for the top 4 teams. Yet I’m afraid its not quite that simple. You see, poor Emmanuel have to contend with the fact that they had a losing first round match. If we substitute their repechage performance for the first round match, then in fact their figures are : -

Round 1 score---
% of points--- Round 2 score--- % points---Aggregate---% aggregate
Emmanuel 28073260 5854065

which actually moves them from last place in the table to first ! You can argue that this is fair because in both matches they were playing against teams who were already battle hardened too.

What do these figures show us, if anything ? Well, Girton and Edinburgh look to be off the pace. I’m not saying they can’t win their quarters, but I am saying that their form was fairly consistent in the first two rounds, and they’ll need to improve on this to progress further in my opinion. But if we leave Emmanuel to one side for a moment, how do you separate the other five ? There’s only 55 points between all of their aggregate scores . Even if we use the aggregate %, which is a measure of how much each team have dominated in their matches, it only really throws up Jesus, Oxford as outsiders. So you’d be forgiven for suggesting that it all depends on which team is drawn against which, and who performs on the night. Only it’s a little more complicated than this due to the change in format.

Shaun Blanchflower compiles a brilliant and continually updated UC site, which you can check out here : -
Shaun Blanchflower’s University Challenge Pages
According to his site,
“For the first time since the show returned in 1994, the format has been changed. The quarter-finals will still involve eight teams, but will consist of ten shows in which the four teams that win two games progress to the semi-finals:
– All eight teams play in the first round of four games.
– The four winners from the first round play each other, with the two winners of those games progressing to the semi-finals.
– The four losers of the first round play each other, with the two losers being eliminated.
– The four remaining teams play a final round of two games, and the two winners progress to the semi-finals.”

I think I understand how it works. What this means is that there’s slightly less chance of an upset , since you can lose and still come back and win your last two games. So who will win – well, I’m sorry, but this is very close to call. If I had to stick my neck out, then I’d plump for St. John’s – Emmanuel, the two highest scoring teams, and then Manchester and Imperial, the two teams who have been most dominant in their matches - to make it to the semis, but St. Andrews and Jesus are perfectly capable of making a mockery of this prediction.After all, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Watch this space.


Unknown said...

Very interesting analysis. Only time will tell if it is correct. Just to explain the quarter final process, the 8 teams are split in to two groups of four with two teams progressing from each group. The groups are;



Londinius said...

Hello Nick,

Thanks for explaining that. That seems clearer than the process that I quoted in the posting. Looking forward to it very much. Happy New Year !

Unknown said...

There are some really good games in the quarter finals. You will not be disappointed.

I also found it interesting that my team (Manchester) had the highest aggregate percentage score of any team. I think this confirms what I thought anecdotally was the case and that is that we were good on the buzzer but not great at converting our bonuses. The effect being to that we were able to shut the other team out in both games, even if we didn't get a particularly high score ourselves.

I shall be reading your analysis each week. Have a happy new year!