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Conative Bracketology

Attention basketball fans from all over the Conation Nation: This week marks the beginning of “March Madness,” also known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Can conation help you with filling out your March Madness bracket (aka “bracketology”)? All serious basketball fans love these next three weeks of win-or-go-home competition, and let’s face it, when it comes to “bracketology,” most fans like to believe that they have the ‘right’ method for picking the winners. However, you’ll likely make your best predictions (and reduce your level of pre-tournament conative Stress) if you consider your M.O. and leverage your natural instincts. 

Fact Finder
A fan who initiates in Fact Finder will make projections best after doing extensive research on each team. This fan knows that national ranking at the beginning of round one is not the final word on which teams are most likely to win or lose in the tournament. Some teams may start with high rankings based simply on their win-loss records; however, a Fact Finder will ask such pertinent questions as:

  • Has this team faced any serious competition in the past?
  • Will the game take place in a venue where such factors as altitude might affect a fast-paced “run-and-gun” offense?
  • What is the team’s free-throw percentage in close games?

On the other hand, if you are a resistant Fact Finder, you tend to condense the available data and look at the “big picture.” While you see the value of accurate information, you won’t spend much time memorizing statistics on every player on the court. You’ll want to focus on crucial information (e.g., Are any key players injured?) and abbreviate the historical data (e.g., What is each team’s overall ranking and win-loss record?).

Follow Thru
Are you an initiating Follow Thru fan? If so, you’ll be in the zone when you pull together some charts and graphs to track changes in each team’s performance throughout the season. Focus on trends (e.g., How does each player perform in games played away from home?) and then chart out the probabilities of success for each team. (This strategy will be especially important for a Follow Thru fan who also initiates in Fact Finder.) Finally, be sure to consider a variety of alternatives. For example, if a key player gets into foul trouble, what options are available to the coach?

However, if you are a resistant Follow Thru fan, you won’t be as interested in what you can learn from following specific trends. Rather, you may prefer to analyze a team’s chances of victory from a variety of perspectives. Flexibility is a very important aspect of your approach to problem solving, and this will enable you to consider all kinds of data. Be sure to give yourself easy access to a variety of information when selecting specific winners in the tournament.

Quick Start
If you initiate in Quick Start, you may be well positioned to pick some “upset” victories by lower-seeded teams. Every year there are a few surprise winners, and your willingness to take risks and challenge the conventional wisdom could give you an edge in predicting which of the underdogs will play the role of “giant slayer.” Additionally, your preference for brainstorming with other bracketologists and your ability to quickly change your strategy as unexpected factors arise, will enable you to make wise last-minute modifications to your final bracket selections.

A fan who is a resistant Quick Start will prefer to rely on established precedents (rather than anticipating ‘upset victories’) when picking winners. If this describes you, then you should go with what’s familiar to you.  Ask yourself, “What has been a reliable method for picking winners in the past?”

At the end of the day, initiating Implementors may be in the best position to pick the winners in each round of the tournament. These fans would do well to focus on the tangible aspects of the game. They should consider how individual teams (and individual players) react and position themselves when the ball is coming off the glass. Who is most often in the right place to get a rebound?  Which teams will tend to out-muscle the competition but still have enough finesse to make an accurate leading pass or successfully complete a slam dunk?

A resistant Implementor will be most comfortable looking at the game in the abstract. Such a fan should envision circumstances and scenarios that might give one team an advantage over another.

If you’re a Mediator, your conative strength lies in your ability to build consensus and in getting individuals to work together. So, look at your bracket from the perspective of a coach. Don’t focus on  individual stars; rather, ask yourself which groups of individual players have the wisdom and ability to work together and make accommodations as needs change. Additionally, which coaches can make all of that individual talent work as a unit? As Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

For Everybody
Whatever your conative strengths and preferred bracketology strategy, remember to have fun with March Madness. Don’t bet any money you cannot afford to lose, surround yourself with good friends, and enjoy the tournament.

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