UC students study science of bracketology

CINCINNATI - College basketball games are unpredictable, which is why the NCAA tournament is called March Madness, but still every year sports fans spend countless hours filling out their brackets.

Now commonly referred to as "bracketology," students at the University of Cincinnati have turned filling out a bracket into a science.

"Don't pick upsets early, you want the teams who are going to be in the final four, so if you want to pick upsets do it late," said Mike Magazine, PhD, at UC's Lindner College of Business.

Magazine teaches a course on bracketology at UC.

"We go through a lot of mathematics trying to show how we can take all of those 347 teams and say which ones will beat which ones," said Magazine.

But filling out brackets is less than scientific for many.

"If you can't figure out which way to go flipping the coin is just the traditional way of solving that problem," said Xavier student David Franke.

Magazine says brackets are fun for fans, but bad for businesses; approximately 2.5 million people fill out their brackets and watch games while at work.

He says this costs businesses more than $175 million in productivity. Sick days are also up 12 percent during the tournament.

Upsets, however, do the most damage, according to Magazine.

"When there is an upset it seems like the team that wins was really happy and they want to go out and party, the team that lost and is expected to win gets really down and they lose productivity," said Magazine.

UC student Matt Johnson hasn't taken the bracketology class, but does his homework when filling out his bracket.

"Definitely strength of schedule, who they have played earlier in the year that were top 25 teams, if they've proven themselves," said Johnson.

But even with all the scientific theories and poring over records, there is nothing that can predict a buzzer beater and a fantastic finish.

So what should you do to win the office pool? Magazine offers the following tips:

  • Coaches with a history of success are a major factor in the tournament.
  • Don't just go by the seeds. If you do, you'll probably end up in the middle of the pack.
  • Wait to pick upsets until later in the tournament.
  • Don't automatically pick your favorite team or alma mater.
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