Using Mathematical Programming to Select and Seed Teams for the NCAA Tournament
What is it about?
We develop a mathematical programming model to select, rank, and seed 68 teams for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament. The selections and seeding are the responsibility of a 10-person selection committee, which chooses from 351 Division I college basketball teams and considers many team-performance attributes. Our approach provides an unbiased initial selection and seeding that has been shown to closely align with the final decision of the selection committee, in recent years. The approach requires no training data from prior seasons or previous committee recommendations and is based on such team- performance attributes as strength of schedule, quality wins, and winning percentage. The method can be applied to other situations where decision makers need to select and rank alternatives based on multiple performance attributes.
Why is it important?
Broadcast and multimedia rights to the tournament’s 67 games were recently extended eight years for a total fee of $8.8 billion. These payments are justified by the widespread interest in the tournament, which is colloquially known as the Big Dance or March Madness. Moreover, athletic programs are compensated based on the number of tournament games in which their teams appear, which makes entering the tournament, and doing so with a favorable seed, an important revenue stream.
The following have contributed to this page: Bruce Reinig