Elias Says ...

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:

• Is there anything as useless as Groundhog's Day? We didn't think so -- at least not until our hockey guru, Bob Waterman, mentioned that it falls at about the same point in the NHL and NBA schedules as July 4 falls for Major League Baseball. So we tried the old "leaders on the Fourth of July" test, with Feb. 2 as the cutoff point. Here's what we found:

* Teams with the most points in the NHL through Groundhog's Day have reached the Stanley Cup Final 23 times in 40 chances since the expansion of 1967 (58 percent), and 17 of those teams won the Stanley Cup (43 percent).

* Teams with the best record in the NBA through Groundhog's Day didn't fare as well as the NHL leaders. Fewer than half of them -- 14 of 29, including all teams that were tied (48 percent) -- have reached the NBA Finals since the incorporation of four ABA franchises into the NBA in 1976, and only nine won the title (31 percent).