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March Madness: Who Will And Why? Math And Psychology Hold The Keys

Posted by: Dr. Granat on March 17, 2010

March Madness: Who Will Win And Why?

         March is here and that means its time for one of the great American sporting events-The CAA Basketball Championship.   

  Serious basketball fans will be watching as many games as possible. 

 Casual fans will be rooting for their universities.  And people who have entered pools will be studying their brackets with great intensity.

          Office productivity will drop to a low at the start of the tournament.

         In analyzing basketball teams, there are a number of factors which need to be considered:  the number of victories, the number of losses, the margin of victory or of a loss, the speed of the team, the presence of more than one star, quality wins, momentum going in to the tournament, size of the team, three point shooting percentage, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, assists, foul shooting percentage, turnovers, balance of scoring, home court advantage, foul shooting percentage, team chemistry, injuries,  depth,  bench strength,  road wins, big game experience and coaching. 

        Now, there are still many more statistics that one might evaluate in trying to predict the winner of March Madness.  In fact, you can spend hours crunching numbers in an effort to forecast which teams are most likely to make it to the final four of this outstanding sporting event.

         A few months ago, Carlton Chin a hedge fund manager trained at MIT and a good friend  and completed a book called Who Will Win The Big Game:  50 Championship Characteristics, A Psychological And Mathematical Approach To Evaluating Players, Coaches and Teams.

          Carlton focused on the math and statistics involved in rating teams prior to big games.  I concentrated on the psychological elements that can predict winners of big games.

            While we did not focus exclusively on basketball, we did discover several factors which seem to be very significant predictors of success, no matter which sport is being considered.

         Our research, which has gotten some media attention from major publications, explains that coaching big game experience and elimination of errors play very powerful roles in this kind of a tournament.

         So, be sure to consider these three elements along with the other ones that you include when you make your selection for your office pool.

          As we get closer to the final four part of the tournament, we will share our picks in my weekly column and on Carlton's blog which contains information related to the book.

          Until then enjoy the hoops.


   Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, New Jersey and the Founder of

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