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University of Arizona NCAA Bracket Challenge

Read a post by Jeffrey Hyman, Vice President of the University of Arizona SIAM chapter, about an exciting use of math by their chapter: picking winners in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

This year marked the third annual University of Arizona’s NCAA men’s basketball Tournament Bracket challenge where students in the SIAM chapter created algorithms to pick winners in the NCAA Division-one Basketball tournament. Members generated algorithms that were based on weighted probabilities using the tournament seeds, Markov Chains based on data pulled from previous tournaments, ranking mascots in battles to the death, and distance from their hometown.  The only rule was that each bracket be reproducible within the variation provided by a pseudo random number generator.  The winner this year created a weighted bracket based upon games during the regular session.

One member said, “the joy of the competition was comparing our picks to those by people following the sport with great vigilance and think they have the upper hand. Turns out, March Madness is a stochastic process where anything can happen, almost surely.”

From down here in the old pueblo, we’d like to encourage other SIAM student chapters to start their own March madness algorithm competitions next year. And perhaps someday we’ll have a national student SIAM competition!

If you have any questions about the competition don’t hesitate to email us at siamchapter@math.arizona.edu.

 

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