Honors Projects


The “hot hand” in sports has been debated for as long as sports have been around. The debate involves whether streaks and slumps in sports are true phenomena or just simply perceptions in the mind of the human viewer. This statistical analysis of momentum in basketball analyzes the distribution of time between scoring events for the BGSU Women’s Basketball team from 2011-2017. We discuss how the distribution of time between scoring events changes with normal game factors such as location of the game, game outcome, and several other factors. If scoring events during a game were always randomly distributed, or followed a specific model all of the time, then streaks and slumps would simply be perceived phenomena during the game. This study reveals that the scoring events within a game follow the Poisson process, and that the time between scoring events for each game can typically be modeled by an exponential distribution with a mean equal to the reciprocal of the average time between successive BGSU scoring events within that game. However, even though the scoring events in most games are found to follow the Poisson process, there are still a significant number of games in which the exponential model does not fit the data well. These instances suggest that the particular game was unusually streaky, either with larger gaps between scoring events occurring more often or smaller gaps between scoring events occurring more often. These events indicate that the team was truly in a slump and did not score very often, or was truly on a hot streak, suggesting that streaks and slumps are more than just imagined events.


Mathematics and Statistics



First Advisor

Dr. James Albert

First Advisor Department

Mathematics and Statistics

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Rump

Second Advisor Department

Applied Statistics and Operations Research

Publication Date

Winter 12-5-2017