Bracketology: Data and Analytics for the Masses

March Madness is in full swing as the NCAA Basketball Tournament kicks off. Everyone is filling out brackets trying to predict who will win the tournament. There is even a $1 billion prize for one lucky winner who picks the perfect bracket.

Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge 2014: Tips for March Madness Tournament

So what is Bracketology?

The process of predicting the field of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, named as such because it is commonly used to fill in tournament brackets for the postseason. It incorporates some method of predicting what the NCAA Selection Committee will use as its Ratings Percentage Index in order to determine at-large (non-conference winning) teams to complete the field of 68 teams, and, to seed the field by ranking all teams from first through sixty-eighth. ~Wikipedia

Is there a science to bracketology?

Math Improves March Madness Predictions

Inside Science Buzzwords:

  • March Madness – The period of time (held mostly in March) that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) holds a single-elimination tournament wherein 68 college basketball teams compete to determine the national champion of college basketball.
  • Tournament Brackets – The form that shows the games in the NCAA tournament, and includes spaces for the winners of each game, arranged in a tree diagram that shows the teams and the different rounds of the tournament. In this year’s tournament, 68 teams are divided into four regions and sorted into single-elimination categories that display which teams the winners will face next.
  • Bracketology – The name for the process in which an individual attempts to predict and fill in the NCAA basketball brackets.
  • Computer Algorithm – A step-by-step process that a computer uses to calculate a solution to a problem, such as the prediction of the March Madness tournament winners.