Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We know about Madness, right?

If you or your students (or both!) are men's college basketball junkies you know that March Madness has begun. Even casual fans at this time of year start filling out brackets in hopes of winning this amazing prize or just for bragging rights. Those who follow a certain team may be guilty of confirmation bias in seeking out evidence to justify the strength of their teams, and as they join with their like-minded friends groupthink leads them to assure themselves that they are correct.

In the spirit of this time, let me offer a couple of links to start the fast break of conversation in your classes. Steven Kotler of Psychology Today jumps in with The Psychology of Bracketology as he lobs up the theories of the "hot hand," Cinderella teams and then calls a time-out to bring in Bob Knight's "be yourself" theory.

Over on Laura's Psychology Blog professor Laura Freberg plays commentator as she introduces the various cognitive strategies that could be used for the selection process but as the shot clock winds down she chokes and tosses up some ill-advised shots in her bracket. (ASU over Syracuse? UCLA over Villanova? AIR-BALL, AIR-BALL)

And finally psych professor Janice Grigsby of Youngstown State and Case Western blows her whistle and calls a charging foul on the tournament, saying that March Madness is a form of gambling that reinforces the personal fable that addiction will happen to other people.

For some real coaching on your brackets, try Bracket Science, Ken Pomeroy's ratings, CBS and the New York Times (which says that foul differential will make the difference).

Okay, teachers, it's time for you to pull of your warm-ups and get in the game. Who do you think will win? Biggest upset? This year's Cinderella? Most overrated coach? Post your thoughts below.

And as for me ... well, my money's on this guy's toe.

No comments: