The 2011 TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown

The TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown -- the contest where some of the world's finest quantitative analysts of basketball predict the playoffs in competition with my mom -- is back.

There are some changes to the lineup this year, mostly because NBA teams keep hiring away all the contestants. The newcomers, however, bring some interesting insight and even a little attitude. One of them played along on his own last year ... and beat everybody. (He also has a different set of models than most. For instance, he likes the Orlando Magic more than others this year.)

Despite the new blood and the varied approaches, the eight participants agree that the two teams with upset potential are the Blazers and Nuggets. In every other series, every expert picked the favorites -- although former champ David Berri thinks it might take the Celtics seven games to dispatch the Knicks.

One sad note: Defending champ Jeff Ma isn't in the lineup this year. It's a fairly boring story involving crossed wires and tight deadlines. But we're setting the stage, pro wrestling style, for him to make a vengeful return next year.

Speaking of tight deadlines: Huge thanks to Matt Wong for his hard work getting this together.

Without further ado, the picks.