Mar 19, 2009
The NCAA men's basketball "March Madness" tournament may have just tipped off, but one academic is already thinking about the later rounds. Once the "Elite Eight" teams emerge, says Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science and the director of the simulation and optimization laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, throw out a team's initial seeding—it's no better than flipping a coin to figure out their chances of winning.
For a study in the Journal of Gambling Business and Economics, Jacobson was trying to figure out whether the top three teams' seeding in each bracket at the beginning of the tournament is a good predictor of how far they will go in the tournament. Jacobson analyzed data from NCAA tournaments dating back to 1985, which ended with a classic game that saw Ed Pickney's Villanova Wildcats beat the heavily favored, Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas.
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