Math in the News: Issue 50


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In this issue we look at March Madness mathematically.

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Math in the News: Issue 50

  1. 1. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThe 64 teams that play in the elimination rounds are divided into fourgroups of 16 teams. The four groups represent the West, East, Midwest,and South.
  2. 2. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentWithin each group of 16 teams, each team is given a ranking. The #1 seedis considered the best team in that group of 16.
  3. 3. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentIn the first round of play, the #1 seed plays the #16 seed, the #2 seedplays #15, and so on. A shortcut for remembering which teams play is tonote that the sum of the seed numbers equals 17.
  4. 4. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentFor each group of 16 the brackets for the first and second rounds areorganized like this. The winners of the first round play in the second roundbased on this arrangement of brackets.
  5. 5. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThis table is a summary of the number of wins in the first round for gamesplayed from 2001 to 2011. Source:
  6. 6. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThis graph shows a summary of the first round results based on the datatable. Note how the top seeds show the most success. This isn’t surprisingsince the highest seed plays the lowest seed.
  7. 7. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentAfter the second round of play, the winners go on to play the RegionalSemifinals, as shown in the brackets.
  8. 8. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThis table is a summary of the number of wins to advance to the RegionalSemifinals for games played from 2001 to 2011. Once again, note how thetop seeds dominate.
  9. 9. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThis is a graph of the data from the previous data table.
  10. 10. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThe succeeding brackets include the Regional Finals, the Final 4, and theChampionship game.
  11. 11. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentThis table shows the succeeding rounds leading up to the Championshipgame. With each succeeding round, the number of seeds drop, until theChampionship winner comes exclusively from the top three seeds.
  12. 12. NCAA Men’s Basketball TournamentAs you can see, the #1 seed dominates in terms of championship wins.And the top three seeds make up all the champions from 2000–2011.
  13. 13. NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament• For the 2012 tournament, can we say, based on previous statistics, that the champion will likely come from one of the top 3 seeds?• What is your prediction?