The Loop

Do teams hold on to final-round leads at NCAAs?

__FRANKLIN, TENN.--__Statistics often can be used to prove whatever point you're trying to make. Still, it's interesting to look at how the 54-hole leaders have done in the final round of the NCAA Women's Championship to get a sense of Alabama's chances Friday afternoon at Vanderbilt Legends Club.

The Crimson Tide have a two-stroke edge on USC, which, if past precedent helps predict future results, means Alabama has a good shot at holding its first NCAA title at the end of play today. Since 2002, the team leading the tournament entering the final round has won every year except two (2002: Duke knocking off Arizona; and 2009: Arizona State coming back to beat USC).

Yet another trend might suggest that Alabama's chances at victory are a little more tenuous. Of the previous final-round leaders since 2002, only twice has the lead been as small as two strokes. And those two times were--you guessed it--in 2002 and 2009.

Here are the raw numbers:

__Year, third-round leader, stroke lead

__2002, Arizona, 2*

2003, USC, 7

2004, UCLA, 5

2005, Duke, 8

2006, Duke, 13

2007, Duke, 8

2008, USC, 3

2009, USC, 1**

2010, Purdue, 7

2011, UCLA, 7

** eventual winner is Arizona State