New study takes the guesswork out of selecting and seeding teams for 'March Madness'

March 7, 2018, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
New study takes the guesswork out of selecting and seeding teams for 'March Madness'
Credit: Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

New research has developed an automated approach for narrowing down and ranking the field of Division 1 college basketball teams from 351 to the 68 that would play in the annual "March Madness" basketball tournaments, watched by more than 80 million people each year.

Each year, a rotating 10-person committee is tasked with selecting and seeding teams to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Basketball Tournament. The new automated approach would be capable of potentially replacing the current manual system, to remove any questions of bias and the potential for human error.

The study, "Using Mathematical Programming to Select and Seed Teams for the NCAA Tournament," conducted by Bruce Reinig of San Diego State University and Ira Horowitz of the University of Florida, will be published in the INFORMS journal Interfaces.

"The algorithm can be applied to any season and is uninfluenced by prior committee structures, tournament outcomes and the results of previous seasons," said Reinig.

Using data from the five NCAA tournaments held from 2012 to 2016, the researchers created an algorithm that quickly and consistently created a tournament ranking that was in keeping with the committee's rankings for that year.

When applied to the teams for the 2017 tournament, the identified 37 of the top 38 teams that were also selected by that year's NCAA committee. When seeding, or ranking each team to decide who and when they will each play, 24 of them were an exact match, and 77.6 percent were within one seed of being a match, and 89.6 percent were within two seeds of being a match with the committee's rankings.

"This system can also provide valuable insight to athletic directors and conference administrators regarding the impact of scheduling changes on a team's performance or chances of receiving a favorable ," added Horowitz.

Explore further: Who makes the NCAA tournament? Researchers at the University of Illinois can help

More information: Bruce A. Reinig et al. Using Mathematical Programming to Select and Seed Teams for the NCAA Tournament, Interfaces (2018). DOI: 10.1287/inte.2017.0939

Related Stories

Professor takes madness out of the month

March 5, 2015

With the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketballl Tournaments tipping off soon, brackets and bubble-busters are reaching a fever pitch. Dr. Jay Coleman, the Richard deRaismes Kip Professor of Operations Management and Quantitative ...

Recommended for you

Searching for new bridge forms that can span further

September 19, 2018

Newly identified bridge forms could enable significantly longer bridge spans to be achieved in the future, potentially making a crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar, from the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco, feasible.

Fossils reveal diverse Mesozoic pollinating lacewings

September 17, 2018

Insect pollination played an important role in the evolution of angiosperms. Little is known, however, about ancient pollination insects and their niche diversity during the pre-angiosperm period due to the rarity of fossil ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.