CBS Sports intensified the Madness of March yesrerday introducing its ‘Eyetracker’ feature which is based on our very own Red Bee Piero system. This climactic event (the NCAA basketball championships, not the use of Piero) is where dreams are made for a select few college hoops stars and broken for all too many. It’s is also one of the top betting events of the year for Americans as nearly a third of all American men participate in a bracket pool at work. It is an event charmed by the Cinderallas who come from low seeding to upset the titans of the college game and this year is no exception.
And if your team is failing to pull ahead at half-time, don’t lose faith. Nicole Cammorata, Boston Globe suggests in her piece “Down At The Half” (sub-title: “The surprising benefits of being behind”, Note: paywalled article) that being down is statistically not a bad place to be (Thanks Dad).
- “Pop quiz: It’s halftime during the NCAA championship game. The buzzer sounds, and the team you’ve picked to go all the way is a point down. Who’s going to win? Don’t be shocked if your players come back to win the game. Odds are, that’s what they’ll do. A recent study by two business professors at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania looked at more than 6,000 college basketball games and found that teams that are just slightly behind at halftime are more likely to win the game. Jonah Berger, a co-author of the study, titled ‘When Losing Leads to Winning,’ said the idea arose from something that intrigued him while coaching youth soccer. He ‘already felt like the kids worked harder when they were slightly behind at halftime.’”
One explanation for this effect is the dynamic of ‘Regression to the Mean’ (which is a powerful force in the world of embracing failure, but not to be confused with the fallacy of ‘Maturity of Chance’). Recognizing that chance and probability have lots to say about which ball is going in the hoop and which one is bouncing out. What goes down will also go up. But, Cammorata’s study underscored an important distinction that the reaction to the first-half failure seemed to have as much as anything to drive their ultimate victory…
- “But not everyone wins when they’re a touch behind. What separates the teams that overcame that halftime gap from the ones that didn’t? In their final test, Berger and Pope again told the subjects how they were performing relative to their competitors, but also polled them on how they felt about their ability to succeed. Those with higher confidence tried hard to overcome the deficit. Their belief in their own abilities, it emerged, determined the level of response to their ‘halftime’ feedback.”
Good luck to the Sweet Sixteen! May your half-time deficits be turned to Cinderella victories.