2014 Final Four: Leadership and National Championships

NCAA Shabazz Napier

Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is down to the Final Four. This is the second in a series of articles on sports psychology factors that can help predict the winner of the NCAA tournament. Previously, we looked at big game experience and how that might give the Kentucky Wildcats and Connecticut Huskies an edge.  Research that quantifies these factors has had particularly good results over the past several years in both the Final Four and the National Championship game.

Working with psychotherapist Dr. Jay Granat, I have quantified factors related to sports psychology. These factors include big game experience, leadership and basketball fundamentals that can be coached and practiced. Our research goes back to 1985, when the NCAA tournament went to the current format.

Here, we look at leadership both on the court — and behind the bench — and their relationship to winning championships. Teams that have more All-Americans on the courts (as measured by AP All-Americans, first or second team) have compiled a 13-8 (62 percent winning percentage) record in championship games.

This factor favors Connecticut, with All-American Shabazz Nappier as the only All-American to appear in this year’s Final Four. Note that the Florida Gators and the Wisconsin Badgers have third team All-Americans on their squads.

Coaching, or leadership behind the bench, is also an important factor. The coach with more wins in Final Four games, both semifinals and finals, has compiled a 15-8 (65 percent) record in title games.

Coaching leadership favors Florida coach Billy Donovan with four wins during the Final Four. Kentucky coach John Calipari has notched three wins. This is the first Final Four appearance for Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.

Stay tuned for an analysis of additional basketball statistics related to sports psychology. Currently, our sports psychology factors for the two semifinal games based on experience and leadership are:

Connecticut 2 – Florida 1

Kentucky 2 – Wisconsin 0

Carlton Chin is a portfolio manager, quant researcher, and sports analysis contributor at Rant Sports. Please follow him on Twitter @QuantFacts, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your Google network.

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