Monday, January 23, 2012

Quant Facts now 26-16

The NY Giants defeated the SF 49ers, 20-17 in overtime, dropping our quant fact predictions to 26-16 in published plays.  It was a great win for the "big play" Giants -- and conversely, a difficult loss for the 49ers.  It will be a long off-season for San Francisco and Kyle Williams, who had two fumbles on punt returns (as he substituted for the 49ers' regular punt returner, injured Ted Ginn, Jr.).

During the regular season, San Francisco played a very clean brand of football (in terms of turnovers), tying an NFL record with just 10 giveaways -- including none on special teams.  However, the New York Giants have been playing great "big play" football and are peaking at the right time.  The (bad) breaks caught up to the 49ers at a bad time for San Francisco.

The Giants now advance to the Super Bowl, where they will face the Patriots in a rematch of SB XLII four years ago.  Stay tuned for more Super Bowl info...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who Will Win the NFC Championship Game? (Jan 2012)

This year's NFC Championship Game is very interesting. We have a red-hot New York Giant team going up against a solid San Francisco 49ers squad that "quietly" put together a consistently great season.

As sports fans might expect, San Francisco shines in many statistics -- and this is true for the key championship characteristics that we study. In particular, the 49ers run an offense that can control the ball and is very mistake-free. In addition, although Giants fans have been talking up the Giant pass-rush and defense, San Francisco had the NFL's best defense this season.

The Giants have been red-hot, easily handling Atlanta in Round 1 of the playoffs 24-2, and then controlled most of the game against Green Bay, winning 37-20. The Giants ended the regular season on a strong note -- with a difficult schedule -- with wins against the likes of the Jets and Dallas (twice), before storming into the playoffs.

San Francisco got by New Orleans 36-32, and to many, the NFC Championship game pits strength (49ers) against a hot team with good momentum (Giants). We believe that the 49ers also have good momentum -- and for the most part, the championship characteristics point to San Francisco. Interestingly, our research, also says that momentum and a team's recent performance is sometimes overvalued.

As a result, our blog's official prediction is on the San Francisco 49ers. We do not have an official quant fact prediction on the AFC Championship game. New England is a fairly large favorite, but we note that the Patriots put together their regular-season record against a relatively weak schedule. In addition, Baltimore, as usual, boasts a top-notch defense and is battle-hardened because of their divisional rivalry with Pittsburgh.

Carlton Chin, CFA, an MIT-trained "quant" and fund manager and Dr. Jay Granat, a psychotherapist and sports psychologist, wrote "Who Will Win the Big Game? A Psychological & Mathematical Approach." Chin is a specialist in futures and quantitative trading systems at CARAT / Adamah Capital and Granat is founder of

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quant Facts now 26-15

Our "quant fact" predictions, related to our book's research, are now 26-15.  Stay tuned for more quant fact predictions as the NFL playoffs heat up.

Thanks to Alabama's air-tight defense in the 2012 BCS Championship, our "Who Will Win the Big Game?" blog  predictions improved to 26-15. Our championship factors relating to sports psychology picked Alabama because of their edge in defense, recent big game experience, coaching, and rushing game.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Who Will Win the 2012 BCS Championship?

Carlton Chin, CFA and Jay Granat, PhD, are authors of the book, "Who Will Win the Big Game?"  where concepts of sports psychology are quantified.  Here, we use this research to take a look at the 2012 BCS Championship Game between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama.  Our analysis on other sporting events has been featured in the NY Times and The Wall Street Journal.  Jay Granat is a psychotherapist and founder of  Carlton Chin is an MIT-trained quantitative and alternative assets portfolio manager for CARAT/Adamah Capital.  

In particular, our research shows that certain key concepts of sports psychology can be used to build winning teams. Measuring factors - such as leadership, coaching, hard work, minimizing errors, and consistency - has proven to be useful in determining champions and winners. Let's take a look at the "quant facts" for this year's BCS Championship Game.
Hard Work & Defense
Interestingly, across a variety of sports, factors and statistics related to hard work and consistency are more closely related to winning championships than glitzy statistics such as quarterback rating and homeruns. In particular, our work shows that defense does indeed win championships.
Alabama gets the nod in this category, with its top-ranked defense in terms of both points against and yards per game.  It is notable that LSU is #2 -- but a distant #2, yielding 252 yards per game vs. Alabama's 191 yards/game.  
Consistency Factor: Rushing Yards per Attempt
Another key to winning championships is consistency. It is interesting that the type of "consistency factors" that have proven to be related to winning are "less exciting heroics" than most sports fans would expect. For example, in baseball, our research shows that batting average is more important to winning World Series than home runs.
In football, average yards per rush is a good indicator of consistency and control of the game. Alabama edges LSU in this category (5.6 yards per rush to 5.0 for LSU).  Edge to Alabama for the consistency factor.
Minimizing Errors
Performing at a high level - while minimizing mistakes - is crucial to winning the big game. The numbers show that teams that focus on the fundamentals - and athletes who minimize errors - perform better in championships. In football, the team that throws fewer interceptions has won more than their share of championships.  This edge goes to LSU, whose QBs threw just 4 INTs versus Alabama's 8.  
Big Game Experience & Coaching
Statistics show that experience and coaching can yield a measurable difference in the outcome of championships.  Alabama has appeared in a National Title game over the past three years (LSU's most recent appearance was for the 2007 regular season).  Both coaches have done well in games with national title implications, with Alabama's Nick Saban going 2-0 in these games, and LSU's Les Miles going 1-0.  We'll give the edge to Alabama in this category.

Sports Psychology Factors and the BCS Championship
So who will win this year's college football championship? Based on our "quant facts" of the key concepts of sports psychology, we believe that Alabama will even the score against LSU (LSU beat Alabama 9-6 earlier in the season) -- and come away with the title. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Co-Author of "Who Will Win" interviews Shannon Miller

One of the authors, Dr. Jay Granat, of "Who Will Win the Big Game?" had a chance to sit down with Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time All-Around World Champion gymnast Shannon Miller to discuss mental toughness, getting into "the zone," and what it takes to be a winner.

Some excerpts:

Q: Shannon, almost every athlete wants to learn how to get into the zone more often. Many of the athletes who come to see me for counseling ask about how they can best do this. How would you describe the zone?

A: The zone is the place you enter where everything else disappears. If there are television cameras or a million people watching you, it does not matter. For some people, entering the zone is innate. For others it is learned. For me, it was a combination of both.

Q: Managing injuries is an issue for many gymnasts and for many athletes. How did you learn to perform when you were not feeling well?

A: No athlete is healthy 100 percent of the time. I learned that working through a sickness or injury, being able to truly focus on the competition at hand was an extremely important skill. At the Olympics in 1996, I was battling a severe wrist injury. Not only was I having to learn how to train and compete with the pain but also understanding the importance of doing "smart" gymnastics.

Q: Were you born mentally tough?

A: I'm not really sure. I know that I was not the strongest, most flexible or most naturally talented athlete. I knew that I had to find another route to success. For me it was hard work. I was a work horse. I also found that being mentally tough; not allowing others to derail you or get into your head made me a fierce competitor."

Q: Do you have three tips for athletes who are trying to excel at their sport?

A: Set long and short term goals. Don't limit what you can accomplish and don't let others limit you in any way. Keep believing in yourself every day.

Read more here:

Dr. Jay Granat, a psychotherapist and sports psychologist, is co-author of "Who Will Win the Big Game? A Psychological & Mathematical Approach" with Carlton Chin, CFA, an MIT-trained "quant" and fund manager. Granat is founder of and Chin is chief investment officer of CARAT / Adamah Capital.