Data in everyday life: Tie-breaker–March Method or Madness?

Beth SavageI just completed my NCAA tournament bracket. In the unlikely event that I would tie another entrant for the win (I’m usually out of the running by the Sweet 16 round), I need to pick a number for the total points scored by both teams in the final game.

Scores start swimming in my head. Will this year’s final be a high-scoring game like the 1990 finals when UNLV shot 61% in their 103-73 win over Duke? That game netted 17 more points than the previous year’s overtime championship. Or will defense prevail as it did in the 2011 battle between Connecticut and Butler? Three teams in the history of the tournament have scored more points on their own than the 94 total points scored by both teams in that matchup.

What is an average tournament point total? To answer that question, I plotted the score totals on the following SQCpack individuals and moving range chart.

Clearly something changed in the 12th year of the tournament, as the scores were unusually low the first 11 years. Any basketball historians out there know why? The game also changed when the 3-point line was introduced, although not as significantly as I would have expected. Nevertheless, I determined that only scores in the modern game should influence my tie-breaker prediction, so I plotted points since 1986.

I don’t know if 145 will be the magic number, but I’m recording it as my educated guess. Not that it will come to that, unless madness prevails and my near and dear UC Bearcats are the National Champions.

9 thoughts on “Data in everyday life: Tie-breaker–March Method or Madness?

  1. A few things regarding your plot and your prediction. First your control chart shows that clearly the process changed with the introduction of the 3 pt line in 1986. But it also shows a change in 2009 when the 3 pt line was moved from its original position of 19’9″ to the current 20′ 9″. Hence only the last few years “represent” the current process. So, with that in mind… the average points scored in the final from 2010 to 2016 is only 129.

  2. Stephenie, your guess is still well within the limits–and this is March Madness, so anything can happen. Good luck!

  3. Could you add a link to your data or upload your data? I’m trying to compare yours to a graph I made, and our means are slightly different. I think we probably disagree in a data point somewhere, and I’d like to figure out where. Thanks!

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