Furman math professors predict odds of NCAA upsets

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – By this point, many people have filled out their brackets for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, either by guessing or through strategy.

So – is there a science behind how to have the best bracket?

Three Furman math professors are calculating the odds of an upset. Since 2013, Liz Bouzarth, John Harris and Kevin Hutson have been tweaking their formulas, looking at data from current and past seasons.

“We like to talk in terms of probabilities because you know, we’re mathematicians, right, usually make statements in terms of probabilities rather than absolutes,” explained Hutson of their work.

“Every year we have some good ones that we’re proud of picking or identifying as higher upsets,” said Bouzarth, “but we have plenty that we just don’t get right.”

The three professors do participate in an office tournament pool and even with their mathematical insight, they each end up with a different bracket.

“So much of the office pool success depends on picking the ultimate champion and we’re not very good at that,”said Harris of their picks.

These professors also like to use the tournament odds as a math lesson in their classrooms.

To read more about their work, click here.



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