Carlton C

Who Will Win the Big Game? Applying quant facts and sports analytics.

2019 March Madness: Who Will Win the National Title?

Our quant fact predictions for the Final Four had mixed results. We were correct picking Virginia over Auburn (barely!), but were incorrect in selecting Michigan State to defeat Texas Tech.

Overall, however, our published “Who Will Win the Big Game” results have been correct about 65% of the time, often picking underdogs.

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We quantify concepts of sports psychology such as consistency, leadership, confidence, experience, and hard work. These are areas where coaches and sports organizations can make an actionable impact — as they build team chemistry and champions.

What do the quant facts say as Virginia and Texas Tech get set to tip-off in the March Madness title game? For background, here’s our Final Four article and predictions:

Big Game Experience 

Neither team has played in the Final Four over the past few years, so there is no big game experience edge. Edge: None.

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Consistency 

By hitting almost 40% from three-point range, Virginia is one of the nation’s best in three-point shooting percentage. We use this metric as our consistency championship factor in “today’s modern” college basketball game. Edge: Virginia. 

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Defense 

Texas Tech leads the nation in defensive field-goal percentage, yielding just 37%. This championship factor goes to Tech. Edge: Texas Tech. 

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Leadership 

Although basketball is a team sport (like most sports we have studied), our research shows that leaders often can “will” their teams to championships. For college hoops, we use the number of AP All-Americans (first and second team) as our proxy for leadership on the court. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver is the only All-American in the title game. A shooting guard, Culver is projected to be a top-five pick in the NBA Draft. Edge: Texas Tech. 

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Focus on the Basics 

Several games have been decided by free throws in this year’s tournament. A focus on the fundamentals often makes the difference between winning and losing. Edge: Virginia.

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Tiebreaker: Defensive Three-Point % 

Our regular quant facts are tied at 2-2, so we went to a tiebreaker. Since the three-point shot is so important in today’s game — and since defense truly does win championships, we looked at each team’s defensive three-point percentage yielded. This was also a good compromise since one of the game’s story lines is Virginia’s offense versus Texas Tech’s defense.

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Interestingly, Virginia edges Texas Tech in this category. Our official “Who Will Win” quant fact prediction is that Virginia will win the big game. Enjoy the game! 

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Carlton Chin, a graduate of MIT, is a fund manager and quant researcher focused on portfolio strategy and sports analytics. Carlton has been an adjunct Professor at Rowan University, and he has worked with various sports organizations, including the Sacramento Kings. Carlton has been quoted by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and ESPN.
 

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Dr. Jay Granat, psychotherapist, named one of America’s Top 10 Mental Gurus by Golf Digest, has worked with Olympic athletes & sports organizations. A former university professor, he has authored several books on sport psychology — and has appeared on ESPN, CBS & Good Morning America.

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