Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bracketology, Scientist-style

For years Dave and I have enjoyed watching basketball during the NCAA tournament in March.  This started about 25 years ago, when Dave was in the hospital during March for several consecutive years for cancer surgery, and the games we a bit of distraction.  Since then we fill out brackets, and to greater or lesser extents watch and enjoy the games. 

A dear friend, a scientist at a prestigious institution out East, shared his office bracket rules with us, and it had me laughing-- it was athletic competition the PhD scientist way.  I just had to share a small section of their two-page scoring instructions:
"There will be bonus points for picking upsets...Upset bonus points will be awarded according to the following formula:
0.2 * (difference in seeds) for differences > 0
For example, a 14-seed beating a 3-seed in the first round would net you 0.2 * (14-3) = 2.2 upset bonus points...
To discourage random picking of upsets (gaming the system) points will be lost for each game picked incorrectly. ..Those who choose wisely can still probably game the system, but there will be a penalty if you choose poorly...."

What seems like a perverse math word problem to me is fun for these guys.  I guess it just goes to prove the old adage that variety is the spice of life.  Or maybe the one that says truth is stranger than fiction.  I'm not quite sure which...

1 comment:

Natalie said...

That is too funny!

We have never had cable, but we would always get sucked into March Madness during our annual visit to my grandparents house (that always fell in March). My grandfather would stay up (dozing off and on in his chair) until all hours of the night watching the games. Sadly he is no longer with us, but March Madness always reminds me of him.