A few minutes ago the other day, NPR’s Mike Pesca tweeted his mathematical rule as to what constitutes a “blown game” in basketball.

That means if at any time a team is winning by (# of minutes left in the game)+4, and loses, that’s a “blown game.” There are 48 minutes in a NBA game (40 in a NCAA game). So let’s graph what that could look like.

The x-axis represents the game’s minute and the y-axis represents the number of points you’re winning by. If, for a given x, you exceed y, you are in danger of having a Pescian “blown game.”


That seems pretty reasonable to me. Although, if you’re up 5 with a minute to go and lose it, I’m not sure I would call that a “blown game.” That’s potentially just two offensive possessions worth (a couple three-pointers would do the trick). I’m also not sure about the time-fractions in this situation. If you’re up 5 with 1:30 left, is that the same as 1:00 left? Or does anything above one minute roll into the next highest integer?

What’s your definition of a “blown game?” What about for other sports? How would you quantify a “blown game” for football or baseball?

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