It is March Madness; Arizona made it to Sweet 16 at the NCAA Basketball Championships and everyone here is happy. This year is the 25th consecutive year Arizona made it to the championship, which is a record on its own (that’s quarter of a century!) although we were the champion only one time. I don’t know if there is another team with the same record of consistency.
So, I took the opportunity to discuss Joel Sokol and Paul Kvam’s Markov Chain Model to predict the tournament in my undergraduate stochastic modeling class. It came at the perfect time as we were just wrapping up Markov Chains. The class was really excited when they saw an application that they really cared about. However, when they saw that the model did not predict Arizona to make it to Sweet 16, some eyebrows were raised. See the actual results vs. model picks.
Here are some other educational material that uses sports to illustrate stochastic modeling such as Markov Chains and Poisson Processes.
- Joel also has an educational paper, “An Intuitive Markov Chain Lesson From Baseball“.
- This one is on Poisson Process and the sports is soccer: “Using Soccer Goals to Motivate the Poisson Process“.
For more on sports in OR education, see the special issue of ITE on this topic.