Well, for once I find myself saying that I find it difficult to predict just who is going to win University Challenge. Both teams have shown resilience, and skill during the competition. Both teams have fast buzzers . Manchester have the highest single score of the two teams, yet Manchester also lost in one of their quarter final matches. Pembroke are unbeaten. Manchester were beaten in their first quarter final match by UCL. UCL were beaten in the semi-final by Pembroke. So Pembroke should be the favourites then ? Well, actually, that’s not what the stats say.
There’s not a huge amount to choose between their average scores. Still, Manchester do have the higher average, with 251 to Pembroke’s 231. The average score of each team’s opponents is also interesting – Manchester concedes on average 127 points, while Pembroke concede 145. That’s more telling when you consider that Manchester also have a loss contributing to that stat. So does that mean that we should be banking on a narrow win for Manchester ? Well, not necessarily. We can’t ignore that loss to UCL, after all.
So how will the final match be decided ? I haven’t the foggiest. Manchester are usually very fast starters. So maybe they’ll have built up a head of steam by the ten minute mark, as they did in the semi, and not allow Pembroke to ever get on terms. On the other hand maybe Ben Pugh will have a stormer for Pembroke. When he’s on form he’s lightning on the buzzer.
Knowing that I won’t get away with sitting on the fence any more, I will make a prediction, but let me say that I have no faith in it whatsoever, and certainly would not be risking so much as a brass farthing – if I possessed such a thing – on the outcome. I just have this sneaking feeling that maybe Pembroke have only played as well as they have needed to in order to win all their matches so far, and they might just find another gear. Put me on the spot and insist on me calling a winner, I suppose I’d go for Pembroke. But then again . . . Good luck to both teams anyway. I’m really looking forward to it.