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2015 Men's NCAA Basketball Championship: Who Will Win the Big Game?

Coach K - Duke Basketball Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Coach K - Duke Basketball
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A portion of our research studies factors related to sports psychology, including: big game experience, focus on fundamentals, leadership, and consistency.  Over the past several decades, the factors we quantified have been related to winning championships about 65%-70% of the time.  Since our "Who Will Win the Big Game" book came out several years ago, our published "quant fact" predictions have picked the winner of major sporting events 62% of the time, regularly picking underdogs.  We have fared particularly well in the Final Four, where our quant facts have swept all three games (two semifinals games and the title game) several years.  

Let's look at the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship "tale of the tape" between Duke and Wisconsin.     

Big Game Experience: Both teams have big game experience.  Duke last appeared in the Final Four in 2010, when they won it all.  However, the experience metric most related to winning across all sports is big game experience over the last three years.  Interestingly, Wisconsin has more recent Final Four appearances. Edge: Wisconsin.

Consistency: In today's college basketball game, the three-point shot plays a large role in maintaining consistency and gathering momentum.  Duke is one of the nation's best three-point shooting teams and gets the nod in this category.  Edge: Duke.  

Fundamentals: In a close game, success at the free throw line can make the difference between winning and losing.  Similar to other factors, free throw shooting has predicted the winner of the championship game 70% of the time!  Wisconsin is one of the nation's best free throw shooting teams.  Edge: Wisconsin.   

Defense: Across all major sports, we have seen that defense does indeed win championships.  Both teams are solid defensively, but Duke edges Wisconsin in the key defensive statistic we track.  Edge: Duke.    

Leadership: both "on the court" and "behind the bench" has proven to be a key trait between winning and losing championships. We studied the results of teams with more AP All-Americans, but this year, both Duke and Wisconsin have one All-American. However, Coach K has led the Duke's storied basketball program through many Final Four victories over the years. Edge: Duke.      

In summary, the championship traits favor Duke over Wisconsin 3-2.  We look forward to an entertaining game.  

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Carlton Chin is a fund manager, MIT-trained quantitative analyst, and co-author of “Who Will Win the Big Game?" He has been quoted by the Wall St. Journal, New York Times, and ESPN -- and worked with the Sacramento Kings on the 2014 NBA Draft. Dr. Jay Granat is the co-author of the "Who Will Win" book and owner of StayInTheZone.com.    

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