NCAA basketball tournament analysis for high school mathematics

Adrian J. Lee, Sheldon H. Jacobson, William A. Cragoe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


As the winter season steadily makes way for spring, basketball fever heats up when the sports media begin to headline various qualification scenarios for the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament. College basketball experts and sports analysts provide wisdom into how the tournament field might be seeded and which teams are anticipated to reach the coveted Final Four. The media hype preceding the tournament generates excitement and competitiveness amongst sports fans nationwide as each individual strives to predict the elusive perfect bracket. The popularity of this competition coupled with the uncertainty of buzzer-beating upsets provide a unique and interesting opportunity to learn how probability methods can be used to model and predict real life events. This paper outlines a week long instructional curriculum for high school math and engineering classes based on prior published academic research on a theoretical predictive model. The underlying concept is based on a sequence of Bernoulli trials, where a mathematical model captures the probability of a particular seeded team advancing in each round according to a geometric distribution. These basic concepts easily fit within the scope of high school probability and statistics, and when delivered in the days prior to tournament tip-off, the curriculum provides an excellent opportunity to inspire students into addressing real world problems through mathematical analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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