Georgia Tech Professors Choose Tourney Favs

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What in the world are some college professors up to? Not class prep, that is for sure!

basketballThree professors at Georgia Tech have devised a computer program they have labeled Logistic Regression Markov Chain (or LRMC) which they claim will predict the winner of this year’s NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament. According to professors Joel Sokol, Paul Kvam and George Nemhauser, the North Carolina Tarheels should emerge as the champion next month.

Accurately Picked The Winner

The professors devised their computer ranking program for last year’s tournament which correctly picked each of the Final Four teams and accurately predicted that the University of Kansas would beat Memphis in the championship game.

This year, the professors believe that North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Memphis and Louisville will be in the Final Four with Memphis knocking off Connecticut to make it to the semifinals.  The professors believe that North Carolina will knock off Pittsburgh while Memphis will beat Louisville, setting up the championship showdown.

“There are a few instances where it (LRMC) disagrees with the seeding,” said Dr. Joel Sokol, Georgia Tech operations research professor who devised the program. “On the other hand, our system agrees with the awarding of fewer at-large bids for mid-majors than in the past. There just weren’t as many deserving mid-major teams this year.”

The LRMC Formula

The LRMC formula includes scoreboard results, which teams are competing, home court advantage and margin of victory in its computational formula. In addition to predicting a potential victor, these calculations can also offer insight into teams that hold more — or less — potential than NCAA seeding indicates.

For example, the 2008 predictions included picking out overrated teams such as Duke, Vanderbilt and Connecticut, which all lost in the first round. The system also identified West Virginia and Kansas State as potential spoilers. Both teams completed upset victories during last year’s tournament.

Upsets are always part of the equation but the predictions – barring any shockers – will stand throughout the tournament.

“Suppose North Carolina loses in the first round, our prediction would change at that point,” Sokol said. “In that case, Pittsburgh would be who we predict as the winner.”

It is fitting that Georgia Tech professors invented the LRMC formula. The school is one of the top research universities in the world, a leading public technology school based in Atlanta whose strong suits include science and technology.

March Madness fans can access the LRMC rankings/analysis at www.finalfour.gatech.edu.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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