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In an article published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, Dr. Morgulev and professors Ofer H. Azar and Michael Bar-Eli of BGU’s Department of Business Administration studied the effect of fourth-quarter comebacks in NBA games and its correlation on overtime performance – whether the immediate success of tying the game before the end of regulation created enough psychological momentum to lead the team to victory in overtime. In short, no. The study concluded that teams that come from behind do not have a greater chance of winning in overtime.
“People talk about momentum as an indicator for success in business, sports and politics,” says Dr. Elia Morgulev from the BGU Department of Management, Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. “However, after studying close to 900 tied games with fourth-quarter comebacks over 11 NBA seasons, we found that, regardless of momentum, teams with the home court advantage and the better season-long win-loss record were more likely to succeed in the five-minute overtime.”