Billy Packer’s contributions to college basketball included an endless list of analysis and calls (both famous and infamous) as broadcasters and voices of the Final Four on TV for over 30 years. .
But he also had a bit of a hand in the development of Hoops, a long-forgotten 1980s computer game.
Packer died Thursday night at the age of 82 from kidney failure, the result of various health problems over the past few weeks.
Hoops was primarily developed by the sports analytics duo of Jeff Sagarin and Wayne Winston. It originally started as a tabletop card game in which historical teams played against each other, similar to the old Strat-O-Matic baseball game.
Sagarin enlisted the help of Packer to create defense ratings for players in-game.
The March 30, 1987 edition of Sports Illustrated called the game “addictive” due to its “polished yet surprisingly easy-to-play” style. It was only available over the counter.
The first game contained stats and characteristics for 220 top teams from 1950 to 1986 on a floppy disk.
Later versions of the game added teams and made gameplay tweaks (adding player fatigue factors, three-point shooting, etc.) to improve the experience.
This game would be the starting point for Sagarin’s career as a sports analysis specialist. His method for evaluating teams is regularly used by USA Today, the College Basketball Selection Committee, and the College Football Bowl Championship Series.
The hoops didn’t have much endurance due to the eventual development of sports video games. That’s just a footnote in Packer’s career.