Math professors use program to predict NCAA tournament results

Eduardo Cabral Balreira, Brian Miceli teach math at Trinity University

SAN ANTONIO – March Madness has arrived and it's time to fill out your bracket.

Should you need help winning the office pool, two local math professors may be able to help.

They have developed an original computer program with some proven success in predicting sporting outcomes.

The program, called Oracle, is driven by mathematical equations with a practical approach.

"To come up with this, we looked at the entire regular season, over 5,000 games, 351 teams," said Eduardo Cabral Balreira, an associate mathematics professor at Trinity University and one of the developers of Oracle.

Considerations for the program include variables like games played and performance. The data is then used to create ranks for each team through extensive mathematical equations. Oracle, which is used for other sports, has seen success.

"So far for NBA and NFL, we do very well," Balreira said. "We do better than all other ranks out there."

Admittedly, the NCAA tournament poses the biggest challenge for the computer program and the two professors.

A big field of teams, with one chance to win, often means anything can happen.

"There's so many possibilities that even if you took the best people (and) the smartest computer programmers, and had them just try to generate all the brackets, there's not enough time," said Brian Miceli, also an associate mathematics professor and developer of the program.

The chances of filling out a perfect bracket are staggeringly miniscule: around 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

You are more likely to hit four holes-in-one in a row than you would be to fill out a perfect bracket, according to statistics.

"We're just showing you, mathematically, what is the most likely outcome," said Balreira.

So, which team does Oracle choose to win it all?

"We have Kentucky winning," said Miceli. "I think if you didn't have that, there's something wrong."

You can find a full look at what the professors have predicted for the NCAA tournament and sign up for a newsletter with the latest statistics here: http://rank.balreira.com/

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