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Over the past 25 tournaments, 14 of 25 champions have had Final Four experience from the previous three years. This factor favors Michigan State, the only remaining team that has a recent Final Four appearance (2009). Big game experience has proven to be one of the strongest and most consistent championship characteristics in every sport we have studied. Experience is related to confidence, focus, successfully managing big moments and relaxed aggression. On average, teams and athletes that have more big game experience have won about 70 percent of championship games.
Coaching leadership is also a key ingredient. This factor favors Duke and Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 10-7 record once he reaches Final Four. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo has been to five previous Final Fours, but he is only 3-4 in the national semifinals and finals, winning one championship. West Virginia’s Bob Huggins lost his only Final Four game, while Butler Coach Brad Stevens is in his first national semifinal.
Leadership on the court is also important. Over the past 25 years, teams with more All-Americans have gone 11-7 in championship games. This factor points to Duke and West Virginia, each with one All-American, as opposed to Michigan State and Butler, with none.....