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#QuestForTen Game Board

#QuestForTen after 7

As explained in this thread, we are using a modified Ten Chances board from The Price is Right to track men’s basketball this season. It’s just one of our many whimsical coping mechanisms.

The image above is the official board. Anytime USF wins a game, the opponent’s logo is added where the prize would go, and the score is written on the pad. Also, there is a rating for each win, of 1 to 4 stars:

  • ★ Undeserved Win (needed all 10 chances and won despite significant error)
  • ★★ Narrow Win (needed 8-10 chances)
  • ★★★ Solid Win(needed 6-7 chances)
  • ★★★★ Awesome Win(needed 5 chances or less)

Only wins are rated (not losses). We will also update this post to give our comments on each win, and rationale for the above rating. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

  • Florida A&M: USF took a little too long to put away a team picked to finish last in the MEAC. But once the Bulls took control of the game, they never really let FAMU back into it. The second-half lead dipped from 15 to 6 a couple times, but USF closed the door each time, so we won’t nitpick. (3 stars)
  • Rider: USF had better players, but Rider looked like the better team. The pace was slow, and USF didn't really seem to be on the same page. There was a lot of 'let the shot clock run down to 5 and make a play yourself’ on offense. We debated giving it a 1 rating, but newcomer-heavy teams will have games like this, so we'll again give the benefit of the doubt. (2 stars)
  • Kennesaw State: At times, USF seemed worthy of a 1, 2, 3, or 4 rating. They looked dominant in the first half, with the offense running smoothly, racking up lots of assists en route to a 48-27 halftime lead. Kennesaw put together a 14-1 run to start the second half, and USF’s offense regressed to its Rider form. Then it got worse: USF seemed content to kill time, actually taking shot clock violations on two consecutive possessions. Kennesaw had a chance to win it with a 3, but missed by a foot. Not since Butler's Gordon Hayward against Duke in the 2010 national championship game has a missed game-winning three-pointer looked so good. (1 star)

Laurie here is a good analog for tonight’s game. She starts off strong, getting the first prize right away, and the second one on the 4th chance. Then she loses her fundamentals by making two guesses that don’t end in zero, violating the cardinal rule of this game. After squandering her margin of error, she pulls it together just enough to try all the right combinations. Much like Geno Thorpe, who had a key basket and a couple late free throws to stave off disaster. Only because she built a big lead was she able to win.

  • Troy: Once again, USF built a huge first-half lead (43-25 at the half, and 15 points well into the second half), and nearly lost it. Troy had a chance to cut it to a one-possession game in the last two minutes, but USF came up with a defensive stop, and Geno Thorpe once again helped salt it away on offense. But USF came up with a road win, against a team they lost to last season, which is plenty good. (3 stars)

By the way, I have cross-referenced the star rating system to contestant performances in Ten Chances. See above for details. If I had this exercise to do over, I would have rated each game on a scale of 3-10, 3 being a master performance (won the car in the minimum number of chances) to 10 being the worst (needed all 10 chances).

  • Bethune-Cookman: This one broke the rating scale. See Sandy’s gamer for full details. While it was an obvious 1-star game - and one commenter made a case for zero - Jamie was lobbying for a 4, because of how amazing the 13-point last-minute comeback was. He described it as “needing 8 tries to get the waffle maker.” It’s not even possible to play Ten Chances that badly, because there are only six combinations of the digits they give you for the first prize. You’d have to duplicate wrong guesses, or write digits that aren’t choices, to play that badly. That seems fitting, for needing a massive rally and overtime to beat a team that nearly lost to the Florida College Falcons. (1 star)

This isn’t a Ten Chances clip, but it fits this game so perfectly. Here’s how USF would have gotten out of Contestant’s Row tonight:

  • Deleware: Bethune-Cookman broke the rating scale; this game defined the rating scale. Before the season started, the post introducing the game board said:

Every once in awhile, after we’ve all forfeited any hope we ever had for this team, they deliver a moment of greatness.

And that’s what we got tonight. Two days after losing their best player, and dropping a dull game to a bad Northern Illinois team, USF just destroyed Delaware. Unlike all USF’s other wins, there was no cold period, no long opponent run to put the outcome back into doubt. It was the sort of game that drives you mad as a USF basketball fan, because you wonder why they can’t play like this more often. (4 stars)

In honor of this result, enjoy Kevin beating Ten Chances in five tries. Other than board malfunctions, I think five is the best any contestant has ever done.

Update, February 9: USF’s last win was seven weeks ago, and there doesn’t seem to be another one on the horizon. As you can see from the updated graphic, both the host and the contestant have died of boredom and/or old age. As this story was originally conceived to commemorate USF wins, this leaves us with a lack of subject matter. So here’s a video of about how well the Bulls played against UConn:

  • East Carolina: Hey, the board is alive again!

Honestly, this was probably a 2-star win. USF got a lead, and held onto it mostly because ECU was too inept to do anything about it. You know what, though? This team hasn’t won a game in almost two months, and had no reason to ever again. Murry Bartow has the team playing hard despite all the turmoil, and tonight that effort paid off. They weren’t even deterred after falling behind 11-2. So cheers, lads. (3 stars)

Benjamin’s playing of 10 Chances was much like tonight’s win: imperfect, but still a thing of beauty.

Update, February 19: USF was denied its last best chance at a win, losing 94-71 to equally dreadful Tulane. That also locks USF into the #11 seed, which makes a first-day upset in the AAC tournament less likely. Their first-round opponent now looks to be Memphis, C. Florida, or UConn. And the conference tournament is in Hartford. (It was moved from Orlando, and will be there in 2018 instead.)

The game board will stay active until USF is eliminated from the AAC conference tournament, as it will still be mathematically possible to attain 10 wins through a run in the tournament. Like the show, we don’t play the fail horns until the game runs its course. But we do queue up the sound file and put our finger over the button.

Update, March 10: And now, the sound we all know has been coming for months:

USF failed to reach even the modest goal of winning 10 games. The suspension, and then departure, of Jahmal McMurray left USF without its best scoring threat. Orlando Antigua was fired mid-season. Interim coach Murry Bartow kept the team playing hard, but wins were still hard to come by. The team barely avoided going winless in conference play, one of the few indignities USF men’s basketball has never suffered.

To wrap this up, we introduce contestant Rita, who makes a good metaphor for USF’s 2016-17 season.

Rita gets the first prize in two guesses, thanks to being given an incredibly easy set of numbers: 023. The only reasonable guesses are 20 and 30. In the same vein, USF got a few wins in the bag against incredibly weak competition. Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman (the latter of whom USF barely beat) are 2 of the bottom 5 teams in RPI. Kennesaw State, Rider, Delaware, and East Carolina are all in the 200s. Troy, a 10-8 Sun Belt team, turned out to be USF’s best win of the year.

But Rita doesn’t really know that prices end in zero; she merely stumbled on it the first time, because it was so obvious. She makes repeated bad guesses, just as USF’s deficiencies were exposed once the competition got slightly tougher (George Washington, Northern Illinois, and the like). Bob Barker is blatantly trying to point her in the right direction, not even pretending that guesses like 705 have any chance of being right. On the ninth chance, she finally lands on the fairly obvious answer, 750. Bob exclaims his relief.

Rita still had one shot at winning the car. Just as USF beat East Carolina, and held a lead most of the game against C., victory was still possible. She was given the digits 16780.

She immediately writes a 6. Just like USF let UConn run out to a 6-0 lead in the conference tournament. Eventually, she catches on to Bob’s increasingly obvious hints, like “do you really think that’s a $60,000 car?” and corrects it.

Then she writes a 0 as the fourth digit. At this point, Bob just gives up, asking “what’s a man to do?” as we all did many times this season. But, Rita gets the hint, and ends up making a plausible guess of $18,760.

Despite all her ineptitude, Rita still had a non-zero chance of winning the car. When USF got back into that UConn game, it looked like they could still somehow pull it off. Admit it, some of you thought “well, now, Houston’s not so unbeatable, and then maybe we can get an upset...”

But it didn’t happen. UConn put USF away in the end, and Rita’s bid wasn’t close to the correct answer of $17,680.