Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Come April 6, Tar Heel fans should have reason to celebrate - providing the math is right.
LRMC (Logistic Regression Markov Chain), the computer ranking system designed by three professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has predicted that the NCAA Final Four basketball match ups for 2009 will be the University of North Carolina vs. the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Memphis vs. the University of Louisville.
The championship battle, according to LRMC calculations, should pit North Carolina against Memphis with North Carolina emerging as the victor.
Unlike the NCAA tournament seeds released yesterday, LRMC forecast Memphis reaching the Final Four instead of the University of Connecticut.
"There are a few instances where it disagrees with the seeding,” said Dr. Joel Sokol, operations research professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech 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.”
If history is any indicator, it’s a promising prognostication.
LRMC, developed by Professors Sokol, Paul Kvam and George Nemhauser, has been proven to be an impressively accurate method to forecast tournament results. Last year, the LRMC method correctly identified all Final Four participants and heralded Kansas defeating Memphis in the eventual championship.
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 early rounds. The system also identified West Virginia and Kansas State as potential spoilers. Both teams completed upset victories during last year’s tournament.
Michigan State, Boston College and Utah are all poised for potential upsets during the tournament. Conversely, UCLA, Wisconsin, Arizona State and USC may prove to be spoilers.
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.”
March Madness fans can access the LRMC rankings and analysis at http://www.finalfour.gatech.edu
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology - http://www.gatech.edu/newsroom/