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Early Round Upsets and Championship Blowouts

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  • Rick Harbaugh
  • Tilman Klumpp

Abstract

In equilibrium play of a two-round tournament, we find that underdogs exert more effort in the opening round whereas favorites save more effort for the final. Ability differences are therefore compressed in the opening round so upsets are more likely and amplified in the final so blowouts are more likely. Measures that reduce the need to strategically allocate effort make for a more exciting final but a less exciting opening round. Consistent with the model, introduction of a rest day between matches in the NCAA men's basketball tournament increased the favorite's victory margin in the semifinals by about five points.(JEL L83, D72) Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Rick Harbaugh & Tilman Klumpp, 2005. "Early Round Upsets and Championship Blowouts," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(2), pages 316-329, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:43:y:2005:i:2:p:316-329
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/ei/cbi021
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    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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