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One of the most intriguing aspects of March Madness is the potential, in any given game, for the lower-seeded team to beat the higher-seeded team. After all, that’s what makes the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament special – upsets. In this year’s edition, arguably there is no bigger upset than 14-seeded Ohio University’s win over 3-seeded Georgetown. As soon as the game was over, everyone – sportswriters, fans, and Georgetown players and coaches – questioned factors that produced the inconceivable result. The game and post-game analysis provides an excellent context to discuss decision making.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Discuss the relevance of multidimensional thinking when it comes to coaching a basketball game. As you read the last half of article, what does it say about Coach John Thompson’s strategic opportunism?
  2. On paper, Georgetown had all the key success factors in its favor. However, games are not played on paper. What does this indicate about the type of decision environment a coach faces at tournament time? If Coach Thompson had a chance to play this game again, what advice would you give him about preparing?
  3. Although not discussed in your text, the post-game analysis of Georgetown coaching represents hindsight bias to a degree. As you read the article, what other decision errors and/or traps are evident in Coach Thompson’s thinking?

SOURCE: L. Clarke, “In 2010 NCAA Tournament Loss to Ohio, Georgetown Struggles to Determine Why It Went Wrong,” Washington Post (Retrievable online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/19/AR2010031904356.html)

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